Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has warned the APC-led Federal Government (FG) not to jeopardize the integrity of the 2023 general elections, declaring that the nation’s major opposition party does not want to be short-changed again.
To that end, he urged the European Union to send a high-level and large-scale observer mission to Nigeria to observe and monitor the 2023 general elections, particularly given Nigeria’s large population and landmass.
According to a statement signed by his spokesperson, Simon Imobo-Tswam, Ayu made the remarks while receiving the European Union Election Exploratory Mission to Nigeria, led by Mrs. Mette Bakken, at the PDP National Headquarters on Thursday.
“We are prepared as a party to do the necessary in terms of the 2023 general elections,” the national chairman continued. However, we are concerned about the State’s proclivity and capacity to manipulate critical technologies to our detriment.
“We must pay close attention so that we are not taken advantage of again.
“There are security challenges in some states, I think six or so states. We hope government will stamp out the insecurity there early enough for elections to be held there with transparent outcomes. We will no longer accept questionable harvests of votes from inaccessible areas.”
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“In the past, those were areas where the ruling APC did what they love doing best: bringing votes that subverted the will of the people. Even though we are going to police our votes, it’s important that the EU sends a large number of observers ahead of the elections.”
He went on: “We need a large EU Observer Mission here. We don’t want token missions. This is because Nigeria is such a big country, with some states being bigger than some EU Member-States.
“And we need, among the observers, people with technical capacities too. Election-observation has shifted from manual to technology. You need to keep talking to government and critical stakeholders so that the APC does not subvert the democratic will.
“We appreciate the efforts of the EU and thank the Observer Missions for their continued interest in the democratization process in Nigeria which is close to 25 years. We want the world to know that what is happening in Nigeria is democratic, transparent and credible.”
Although Ayu stated that the PDP was prepared for the 2023 general elections and was ready to police positive outcomes, he expressed concern that the elections could be tainted due to the ruling APC exerting undue pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
His words: “We do not want to be short-changed again. We believe we won the presidency in the 2019 general elections. We were injured in 2019, and we don’t want a second injury in 2023.”
On whether freedom of expression was being stifled, Ayu said: “To the best of my knowledge, Nigerians are very vibrant people. Even under military rule, we spoke our minds.
“It was through the process of speaking our minds that we formed this political party to make sure that the military handed over power.”
He added: “So, it is impossible to suppress the freedom of expression in Nigeria. The freedom space is still open. What the government in power is doing is denying us access to public spaces to hold our rallies. Even our convention, we had to navigate and put pressure before we got a venue here in Abuja. That must stop.”