The Nigerian government through the Foreign Affairs ministry, served a warning to the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union, asking them to desist from interfering with the politics of the country. The Nigerian Presidency also issued a strong statement rejecting the opinions of the foreign countries, who had earlier expressed concern over the integrity of the Nigerian elections following the illegal suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Nigeria reserves the right to be insulated from suggestions and or interference with respect to wholly internal affairs and commends international laws, customs and norms that mandate and require nations and the comity to respect this prerogative to all,” wrote Garba Shehu, an official Presidential spokesman in a statement.
More direct interference in support of Buhari: The Buhari administration’s claim to be opposed to foreign government interference in Nigerian politics does not meet up with its own standards. In a campaign rally in Kano last week, two alien governors and their political aides from Niger Republic campaigned with President Buhari. That is far more than anything that was said in the statements calling for due process in the matter involving the Chief Justice.
Garba Shehu was forced to eat his words in an attempt to defend the event which drew the ire of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which has branded it an attempt to influence the Nigerian election with foreign voters.
In his response, Shehu said: “So, if our neighbours from Niger come to witness how President Buhari is doing his politics, what is the problem with that? Is there any law that is broken? Or did they see anyone that will buy vote or collect PVC?”
The difference which Shehu was willfully blind to is that they did not come “to witness how President Buhari is doing his politics”, they came to campaign for him, decked in clothes calling for Buhari’s reelection.
Bottomline: Going by the Nigerian laws, the APC has not breached the constitution by having foreign politicians attend its campaign events. However, it is clear that the ruling party has no issues with foreign interference if it serves its interests. Also, the presence of politicians from neighboring Niger casts a huge shadow over the integrity of the elections. Historically, there have been allegations that voters from neighboring countries especially Niger and Chad have been allowed to register and vote in the Nigerian elections. This kind of action fuels these type of rumours and damages the integrity of the polls.