The Federal Government yesterday told those challenging the nomination of four Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC, over their alleged membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot immediately throw out the nominees based on allegations that have not been proven.
It directed those, especially members of the Civil Society Organizations, CSO, and a cross-section of Nigerians kicking against the nomination of the RECs, over their membership of political parties, to take their case to the Senate.
This is as the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, restated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to free and fair polls in the 2023 general elections.
Some CSOs had raised the alarm over President Buhari’s nomination of card-carrying members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and also persons of questionable character for the position of Resident Electoral Commissioner.
Critics have alleged that the assurances of the President to ensure a free, fair and credible elections in 2023 might not be possible, with some members of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, being partisan because they were nominated by some chieftains of political parties.
According to the critics, while the President may have been determined to ensure that Nigerians choose their leaders in the forthcoming elections freely without any form of manipulations or intimidation, the people supervising the elections, the electoral umpire, may frustrate him because of their personal interest.
But fielding questions from journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on whether the rejection of four or the nominees does not worry the government, Alhaji Mohammed directed those opposing the nominees should to take their case to the Senate that had the constitutional power to screen the nominees.
While noting that President Buhari was committed to ensuring credible and transparent elections, Mohammed said: ““I think you are going to be very fair to Mr. President. Over the last couple of years, you had very transparent, free and fair elections. We all know what used to obtain before we came.
“Before we came, it was quite almost impossible for a ruling party to lose election in any state maybe governorship. But that has changed under President Muhammadu Buhari. This is because the President has insisted on free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
“So there are no basis for anyone to express doubt that the 2023 General Elections will not be free, fair and credible. Mr. President has been clear on this and that will not change in 2023 general elections.
“These could be seen in the governorship elections in Edo Anambra, Ekiti states and recently in Osun State where the incumbent governor lost the election. Mr. President has lived up to his commitment to free and fair elections and I’m sure the same will apply come 2023.
“As to the nominees that are being challenged by social media warriors and by some critics, I don’t think it is the business of the President to immediately throw out the nominees, based on allegations which have not been proven.
“I think the whole idea is that these people will go for confirmation in the National Assembly, the same questions that are being raised in the public domain will be asked there.
“I think this media trial is quite worrisome because even when these people are cleared of any wrong doings, nobody comes back to apologise to them. So, my advice is, yes, there’ll be allegations against anybody. It does not mean that that fellow is guilty. Let’s wait for the process to be completed.”