Comparatively, the 2023 presidential election recently conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is the freest and fairest since 1999, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) declared on Sunday.
AYCF made the declaration in a statement issued in Lagos by Alhaji Yerima Shettima, its National President, while describing those calling for the resignation of Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, chairman of INEC, as agents of destabilisation.
The election produced Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner while Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came second and third, respectively.
The group hailed INEC for doing its best giving the circumstances under which the election was conducted, but lamented that “there are forces opposed to the commendable effort of INEC and we are aware there is deliberate ploy to distract the electoral umpire.”
The organisation warned that it was prepared to resist the alleged forces seeking to undermine the current democratic process as had been upheld by INEC adding that those conspiring against INEC do not mean well for the nation.
“INEC has given the 2023 elections its best shot by training and retraining of election officials, using the BVAS successfully in 90% cases. As with elections anywhere in the world, INEC couldn’t have done a perfect job because in reality they cannot be completely infallible
“We say no to the forces of destabilisation of Nigeria who have been calling for the resignation of INEC chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, without any cogent reason.
“For those who are crying wolf over claims of election rigging, they need to have a rethink because APC’s Bola Tinubu lost in his immediate constituency of Lagos and Labour Party won many areas. PDP’s Atiku Abubakar lost his immediate constituency of Adamawa. It is very clear that this is comparatively the most free and fairest election since 1999. It is pointless crying foul where there is none .
“We call on men and women of good conscience to support the efforts of INEC to bequeath a good electoral legacy on the country. Imagine holding elections under a cashless policy, when there rural areas are without banks and ATM machines or have non-existent internet infrastructure.
“It is obvious that the INEC officials made enormous sacrifice under the current economic and national security challenges to hold successful presidential and National Assembly elections,” the statement said.
AYCF said as an organisation whose members sacrificed their mental and physical abilities to ensure today’s democracy, it must work to preserve peace in Nigeria and ensure INEC is allowed to deliver on its mandate without any hindrance.
“We reject any deliberate ploy to cause crisis in the name of unsubstantiated allegations of rigging.
“We urge the civil society to be careful about acting the script of candidates who have lost the just-concluded elections and are trying to engineer thuggery, killings and arson. We all have a duty as Nigerians to be patriotic enough to speak the truth and stand by peace, unity and national stability,” the statement added.