Candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 presidential election, Peter Obi, has reacted to the phone call made by United States (US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Nigeria’s President-elect Bola Tinubu.
In a series of posts via his Twitter handle on Friday, May 19, Obi, who is contesting the election results said the US should await the outcome of the judicial process before conferring legitimacy on any contending party.
He pointed out that the issues being contested by both parties involve a violation of Nigeria’s electoral laws, Constitution, and falsification of the people’s will.
“Contextually, the willful manipulation and falsification of the will of Nigerians as freely expressed during the February 25 elections cannot be overlooked by the true friends and partners of Nigeria.
“It is thus of overarching importance that a beacon of democracy like the United States should not respond to political developments in Nigeria in a manner that faintly suggests taking sides.
“The final determination of the true winner of the election can only be made by the relevant courts of law,” he noted.
Obi described the reasons behind Blinken’s calls as unclear. However, he pointed out that respect for the rule of law should be a guiding principle for relations between both countries.
“There is still a lack of clarity on the basis of the US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken’s call to APC’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 16, 2023.
“Without the risk of interfering in Nigeria’s domestic affairs, the U.S.-Nigeria relationship should be guided by the core values of democracy.
“Above all, Nigerians expect that the U.S. responses to our affairs should be based on mutual respect, shared ideals, aspirations, and interests which ought to transcend the considerations of any individual.”
A spokesperson for the US State Department Matthew Miller, disclosed in a statement on Wednesday, May 17, that Blinken held a phone conversation with Tinubu, assuring him of commitment towards strengthening bilateral relations between both countries.
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According to the statement titled ‘Secretary Blinken’s Call with Nigerian President-elect Tinubu’, Blinken spoke on the interests and ties shared between both countries.
“Secretary Blinken and President-elect Tinubu discussed the importance of inclusive leadership that represents all Nigerians, continued comprehensive security cooperation, and reforms to support economic growth,” Miller noted.
On Wednesday, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar also condemned Blinken’s call to Tinubu, describing it as demoralising.
“I am in disbelief that @SecBlinken called Tinubu, a contradiction to the publicly stated position of the US on Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election. This is inconceivable considering that America, as the bastion of democracy, is well briefed on the sham election of February 25.
“To give legitimacy to the widely acknowledged fraudulent election in Nigeria can be demoralising to citizens who have hedged their bet on democracy and the sanctity of the ballot,” Atiku posted on Twitter.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, there were allegations that Tinubu was indicted for drug trafficking and money laundering in the US.
Obi and Atiku are currently in court to challenge Tinubu’s election. They are alleging that election results in many states were manipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.