The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday intensified their fight over foreign observers for the forthcoming general elections.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai (APC) of Kaduna State claimed that the PDP changed strategy by deceiving countries usually friendly towards Nigeria, because the party was aware of its imminent defeat at the polls.
The PDP responded, alleging that some agents of the APC were plotting to load ammunition into vehicles painted in its colours and the names of its candidates, particularly former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Senator Dino Melaye and use them to orchestrate violence ahead of the elections.
El-Rufai had told newsmen on Tuesday: “Those calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags.”
He explained in another television interview yesterday: “What I said is based on intelligence that is available to us that the opposition is preparing grounds to cause a crisis in Nigeria by inviting foreign participation.
“They are discussing it. They call it the Venezuelan option. They know that they are likely to lose the elections. They are putting out information that they have.
“They have issued a poll showing that they would win. They are procuring the sympathy of the international community to issue statements like the three coordinated statements on the suspension of the chief justice and linking that to the elections as if the government or the ruling party has anything to hide regarding elections.
“They are doing all this to prepare grounds to protest and cause crises in Nigeria and advance their so-called Venezuelan option.
“And we are not going to sit and allow unpatriotic Nigerians to confuse and procure the misguided support of countries that are supposed to be our friends without sounding a note of warning to them.”
The United States and some of its key allies had last month opted to recognise the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the legitimate president of Venezuela, ignoring President Nicolas Maduro, who was declared the winner of a controversial election.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said intelligence at its disposal indicated that the plot of the ruling party “is to use the vehicles to fire gunshots into gatherings in various parts of the country, and thereafter blame the attacks on the opposition party and its candidates.
“We want all Nigerians to note that the PDP is a party of goodwill and our rallies have demonstrated that we are a people of peace. Our objectives and goals, as laid down by our founding fathers, demonstrate unity, national cohesion and economic prosperity for our nation.
“This is the path we have continued to toe in our campaigns, in spite of provocations by the APC and the Buhari Presidency.
“The PDP is therefore, alerting Nigerians to take serious note of this plot by the APC, which is tailored to smear the image of our party and candidates, as well as divert public attention from their acts and threats of violence ahead of the 2019 general election.
“The PDP urges all Nigerians to continue to be at alert and wary of the APC in its acts of desperation against the resolution by the people to end the Buhari administration and elect a new leadership under Atiku Abubakar, to return good governance, economic prosperity and political tranquility to our nation, come February 16, 2019.”
Meanwhile, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, hosting members of the ECOWAS Election Monitoring Team, led by former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said: “As the National Chairman of the APC, we are committed to a peaceful election, but unfortunately, the opposition’s language and utterances does not suggest that they want a free and fair election.
“The opposition are now in the habit of waking up and making unsubstantiated allegations just to deceive members of the international community.”
Mrs. Sirleaf responded: “Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and anything that happens to Nigerian will not only affect the entire Africa, but the world. So, we are appealing to all the parties to preach peace and urge their supporters to pick their PVCs, so that nobody will be disenfranchised.”
However, the Joint Action on Northern Youth Associations (JACON), said in Kaduna yesterday: “The recent outburst and threat to the international community, especially election observers by El-Rufai is not surprising.
“What is surprising is extending it outside the shores of Nigeria, targeting the international community interested in fair, transparent, credible and peaceful elections in Nigeria.”