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2023 election: Presidency faults EU final report

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…Says level of personnel deployed too small for report to be credible

…Argues report product of  poorly done desk job, relied on few instances of skirmishes

…Insists election best in Nigeria’s history

…Says no international, local orgs can prove otherwise

The Presidency has refuted the final report released by the European Union (EU) which highlighted fault lines in the February 25 presidential elections that produced Bola Tinubu as President.

The Presidency in a statement on Sunday, signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, Dele Alake, argued that there is no substantial evidence provided by the EU or any foreign and local organisation that is viable enough to impeach the integrity of the 2023 election outcomes.

“We strongly reject, in its entirety, any notion and idea from any organisation, group and individual remotely suggesting that the 2023 election was fraudulent,” the statement read partly.

The Presidency stated that it is convinced that what the EU Election Observation Mission, (EU-EOM) released as its final report on the election is a product of a poorly done desk job that relied heavily on a few instances of skirmishes in less than 1,000 polling units out of over 176,000 where Nigerians voted on election day.

Recall that while addressing a press briefing in Abuja on June 27, the Chief Observer, EU Election Election Observation Mission, Barry Andrews, had noted that “the election exposed enduring systemic weaknesses and therefore signalled a need for further legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.”

He had said the shortcomings in the law and electoral administration hindered the conduct of well-run and inclusive elections and damaged trust in INEC.

Therefore, the EU EOM offered 23 recommendations for consideration by the Nigerian government that would improve future elections.

Of the 23, Andrews revealed that “We are particularly concerned about the need for reform in six areas which we have identified as priority recommendations, and we believe, if implemented, could contribute to improvements for the conduct of elections.”

The six priority recommendations highlighted the need to; remove ambiguities in the law; establish a publicly accountable selection process for INEC members; ensure real-time publication of and access to election results; provide greater protection for media practitioners; address discrimination against women in political life, and impunity regarding electoral offences.

However, the Presidency in the counter statement on Sunday titled ‘We reject European Union’s conclusions on 2023 general elections,’ alleged bias and an intention to “impeach the integrity of the 2023 elections” which it described as the best organised general elections in Nigeria since 1999.

The Presidency faulted the data-gathering technique employed in the report, saying the level of personnel deployed by the EU-EOM was too small for the report to be credible.

“While addressing journalists in Abuja on the so-called final report, Andrews noted that EU-EOM monitored the pre-election and post-election processes in Nigeria from January 11 to April 11, 2023, as an INEC accredited election monitoring group.

“Within this period, EU-EOM observed the elections through 11 Abuja-based analysts, and 40 election observers spread across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“With the level of personnel deployed, which was barely an average of one person per state, we wonder how EU-EOM independently monitored elections in over 176,000 polling units across Nigeria,” the Presidency queried.

The Presidency insisted that the 2023 general elections, “most especially the presidential election, won by President Bola Tinubu/All Progressives Congress, were credible, peaceful, free, fair and the best organised general elections in Nigeria since 1999.

”There is no substantial evidence provided by the European Union or any foreign and local organisation that is viable enough to impeach the integrity of the 2023 election outcomes,” it stated.

Describing the findings as “unfounded,” the Presidency said, “We can now categorically let Nigerians and the entire world know that we were not unaware of the machinations of the EU.

“We are convinced that what EU-EOM called the final report on our recent elections is a product of a poorly done desk job that relied heavily on a few instances of skirmishes in less than 1000 polling units out of over 176,000 where Nigerians voted on election day,” it concluded.

Recall that on March 1, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the presidential election, a development that attracted reactions as the results have been contested majorly by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) and their respective candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi who have alleged that the process was marred.

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