Jonnie Carson, a diplomat from the United States and a foreign observer, recently outlined the circumstances surrounding Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s victory on February 25.
He claimed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate won because of his powerful political organization, access to funds for lubricating his political machine, and enough grassroots labor.
When Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed visited the USIP to speak with its representatives, Carson, an Executive Officer of the organization, thought back on the historic poll.
The minister slammed those who disputed the election results.
Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) were defeated by Tinubu.
Foreign observers deemed the poll to be reliable, free, and impartial. The APC candidate received the plurality of votes in the Northwest, North Central, and Southwest but came in second place in the Northeast, Southeast, and South-South geopolitical zones.
During the election, Carson co-led an international election observation team in Nigeria with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) granted accreditation to 229 groups to monitor the election in 2023, among them the NDI-IRI.
These included 33 international and 196 national observation groups.
For the elections, the 229 organizations sent out 144,800 domestic and 2,113 foreign observers.
He insisted that Tinubu had unquestionably won the election and said that, barring unforeseen circumstances, he will be inaugurated in on May 29 unless something dramatic happens in the court.
The ambassador outlined the three reasons Tinubu won, asking: “Do you know why he won? He had the resources, the greatest national organization at his disposal, and a solid ground game.
Carson emphasized the importance of the three conditions, including substantial and significant financial resources, for a candidate to win an election in Nigeria and many other democracies across the world.
No candidate can win without support from the general public and a national working organization, the foreign observer added.
He claimed that while Tinubu met all three requirements during the polls, the other leading candidates did not.
Speaking specifically about the LP candidate, Carson stated: “Mr. Peter Obi lacked a national organization and a ground game.
Obi is yet quite well-liked, especially among the young, intelligent, urban, and refined.
The presidential race, according to Carson, was one of the most contested in Nigeria and all of Africa.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he noted, needed to step up its game.
“Nigeria deserves the best electoral process possible,” he stated.
“In my opinion, Tinubu and the other contenders are not the issues.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has received praise from Carson for his dedication to holding a free and fair election in Nigeria.
He added that the president “is a man of extraordinary honesty” and that he had previously shown this quality in electoral contests.
The minister claimed that the way the 2023 elections were conducted had undergone significant advances as compared to where INEC began and where it is now.
The minister acknowledged that there was space for improvement, but added that the commission’s adoption of a new Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology supported the legitimacy of the elections.
Mohammed said that BVAS eliminated double votes, ghost voters, and fake ballots.
He recounted how the election was held in the midst of a fuel shortage, growing unrest, and an inadvertent cash swap program.
In addition, the minister met with the Council on Foreign Relations, a knowledgeable think tank on African and international matters led by a Nigerian, Dr. Ebenezer Obadare.
Also, he worked for the Reuters News Agency, The Politico, an international publication of politics, and Zenger News, a channel whose articles are posted on Forbes.
The minister highlighted the realities of the recently concluded polls in opposition to distorted narratives of the opposition and doubters during his various encounters with think tanks and the foreign media.
The discussions also covered the economy and international affairs.
The recent investigation by Reuters into alleged covert programs of coerced abortion of women and girls who had been liberated from the captivity of insurgents was discussed there.
Yet, it is preferable for them if they act quickly.
The minister claimed that Afenifere’s status as the voice of the South-West had diminished and that it was no longer relevant.
The days when Afenifere sneezed and the entire nation caught a cold were fortunate, he continued. Right now, it’s not the same.
As Afenifere speaks, you can start to wonder, “Which Afenifere? You are aware of what that implies.
According to Mohammed, INEC laws do not contain any language allowing the Commission to electronically transmit election results.
He claimed that every step of the procedure, including voting, collation, sorting, tabulation, and transmission, was done manually.
The minister stated that the statute establishing INEC grants the Commission the authority to choose the method of holding elections, the method of collation, and the transmission of results.
Also, he responded to the Integrity Group’s plea for a national apology for the reprimand of Obi.
He claimed that the organization had been unable to comprehend the Federal Government’s stance on the improper actions of the LP candidate.
“I said Peter Obi and the Labour Party should cease inciting people to violence since they have presented themselves to the electoral tribunal,” insisted Mohammed.
He stated, “They should stop urging people to take to the streets and they should stop making the foolish claim that the end of democracy would come with the swearing-in of the President-elect.”
However, the minister did not specify where or when exactly Obi made the inflammatory remarks.
Obi also refuted Mohammed’s claim that he had incited anyone to violence, calling it “completely vicious and fake.”
The LP flagbearer declared: “I have never advocated or contemplated undermining the Nigerian government. I have never advocated for or financed any protests against the Nigerian government.