The Federal government has said that a large number of foreign commentators were shocked by the results of the 2023 Presidential election due to their incorrect pre-election mindset.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated this in London during his engagements with some international media organisations and think tanks.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports the minister is in London to defend the legitimacy of the just concluded general elections and correct the imbalance in the skewed narratives which had pervaded the air regarding the polls.
The minister has so far engaged with three international media organisations, namely The Economist, The Guardian and African Confidential, as well as Think Tank, Royal African Society.
The minister claimed that some of the commentators were mistaken in believing that the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, would win the election.
He claimed that the inflated social media activity of the Labour Party and its supporters, as well as the results of numerous opinion polls that were unrepresentative of the reality in Nigeria, served as the foundation for the incorrect mindset.
The minister said: “In the course of my interactions, particularly with the Economist, I referred them to an earlier article they wrote, in which they rated the Labour Party Presidential candidate as the front runner in the polls.
“I explained to them that there was no way a presidential candidate who has no political spread and a grassroots base could win an election in Nigeria.
“I also explained to them that many of them were ignorant of the constitutional requirements for a presidential candidate to win an election in Nigeria.
“For instance, not only that the candidate must have the plurality of votes, he must also have one-quarter of the total vote cast in at least 25 states of the federation.
“When you look at the results, only the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, met these requirements.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, came short of these because he came second and had 25 per cent in 21 states. Obi came far behind with 25 per cent in 15 states.
“This means that Obi, who was wrongly adjudged as a front runner in the election, was virtually unknown and unpopular in 22 states.”
He reiterated his position that there was no pathway to victory for either Atiku or Obi in the poll because they did not meet the conditions to be declared president.
“For any party to ignore the North-East and the North-West Zones of Nigeria during a presidential election, it will be impossible for it to win.
“The election had thrown up a lot of surprises and it is precisely those surprises that made it credible and transparent, “he said.
On the issue of large turnout of youths for voter registration before the election, the minister explained that winning an election was beyond registration.
`What INEC did was to ensure the extension of voter registration exercise for about 18 months so that people will not be disenfranchised.
“However, it is one thing to register to vote and it is another thing to come out to vote on an election day.
“Those 24 million people that came out to vote during the polls were the authentic people that concluded the processes of election,” he said.
The minister praised INEC for establishing and strictly enforcing the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
He said that BVAS was a piece of technology that enabled check-and-balance and shielded the voting process from fraud and other abnormalities.
The minister said that BVAS eliminated double votes, ghost voters, and fraudulent ballots.
Mohammed said from the outcome of his engagements so far, the international community had come to the viewpoint that the 2023 elections were the fairest and most transparent in Nigeria history.
He also said there was no fake news in his comment that Labour Party’s reaction to the outcome of the presidential election was “inviting insurrection”.
Edwin Clark, an Ijaw national leader and convener of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, had called for prosecution of the information minister for being a “mastermind and disseminator of fake news” against Obi.
Clark accused the minister of basing his comment on “propaganda and falsity” adding that it was “unpatriotic and wicked” to label such an accusation on Obi.
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