Geoffrey Onyeama: Foreign minister

THROUGH its Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, the Federal Government yesterday drew a red line for foreign countries on internal affairs, especially as it concerns the general elections.

He was raising concern on the interference of some countries in Nigeria’s internal matters.

Onyeama spoke at a joint briefing of Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organsiations accredited for the general elections alongside the INEC chairman and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

The minister said there is no problem for friendly nations to engage the government but the manner of the engagement in some cases have gone beyond the limit.

Onyeama said: “We welcome very much your engagement, we appreciate very much the support of all other countries in this process, we acknowledge how important your engagement and also in 2015 to help us to deliver probably one of the previous election.

“We welcome international observers to the country and all other friends and media to be fully engaged, but what we are concerned about, has sometimes been just the way the engagement has been communicated.”

He further noted that election to choose who to lead Nigeria is the exclusive right of the country and hence, the country would not tolerate a situation where it will be dictated to.

He also urged them to be unbiased in their assessment of the electoral process.

According to him: ”And we have expected and hope that you will also be impartial and just help and observe to see if the election will be free fair and credible and not to give any sense of indication that they might be preference.”

He also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure a seamless conduct of the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly election on Saturday.

The minister reminded the electoral umpire of its constitutional mandate to conduct credible elections, saying that nothing less will be acceptable.

Demanding an assurance from the electoral body that February 23 will not suffer the same fate as February 16, Onyeama said: “Most importantly, Mr. President and all Nigerians absolutely demand that elections be held on Saturday and nothing less will be acceptable to government and to Nigerians.”

He further added that what is expected from the commission is a total assurance that “this Saturday we will have the elections.”

The minister, who also explained President Muhammadu Buhari’s anger over the postponement, said after providing all necessary support and assistance, there was no reason why INEC should fail the country.

He said: “I think it is absolutely important that the message be communicated that the government is absolutely disappointed and just cannot understand why after three years, the commission was still unable to deliver this process on time.

“I have never seen him so livid as he did with the postponement.

“The President objective is to ensure free, fair and transparent elections. Hence, the decision to postpone the elections by INEC is something he could not pardon.”

The minister added that after investing time and resources into the campaign by going round the entire country, canvassing for votes, you will of course be disappointed.”

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