by Ranti Joseph
The United Nations, the European Union and the African Union, on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government and other stakeholders in the electoral process to respect the constitutional limits set for elections in the country.
Delegations from the three bodies who were in the country to meet with the presidential candidates of the People Democratic Party, President Goodluck Jonathan, and that of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, said this during separate talks with both candidates in Abuja.
The special representative of the UN in West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambers, who was accompanied by a representative of the African Union Commission on Political Affairs, Aisha Abdullah, expressed deep concern over the postponement of the elections. He commended all Nigerians for resisting the temptation to take the laws into their hands on account of the postponement from February 14 to March 28 2015.
They later urged both the presidential candidates to adhere strictly to the Abuja peace accord signed by all presidential candidates, noting that the eyes of the whole world were now on Nigeria. “We also expect the security agencies to be fair to all the parties, act professionally and to ensure an atmosphere in which Nigerians can freely express their free will in voting a candidate of their choice. We have commended General Buhari, just like yesterday we had the opportunity to do same with his President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP. Both parties and their leaders have acted with great sense of maturity and we are very pleased with what we have seen,” he said.
He explained that they want Nigeria to continue to surprise the world and to come out of this election to set a high standard. “This will give Nigeria a moral authority that will enable it to continue to lead and be regarded as a genuine and natural leader in West Africa and Africa,” he added.
Chambers also said he had discovered from his interactions that stakeholders in the Nigerian electoral process had accepted the postponement and that they had been working to actualise their dreams.
In his response, Buhari said that after the signing of the Abuja accord, he had used every available opportunity to tell his supporters to respect the laws of the land noting that INEC had played its last card.
Buhari said the electoral body, constitutionally, had no other room to manoeuvre so it could no longer tinker with the March 28 date it has set for itself. He expressed gratitude to the delegation for their show of concern for Nigeria and its electoral process.
“We will continue to act responsibly but they should not tamper with the constitution of the country. Our expectations are very clear, we said INEC has played its last card and that is the limit. Certainly, this 28 of March there must be election and it is up to the government to ensure that the election is free, fair and credible,” he said.