By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called attention to the strange utterances of foreign diplomats particularly the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU). Some of those statements, according to the Islamic human rights group, border on attempts to railroad Nigeria into an unpalatable situation and to interfere in the electoral process.
In a statement reeled out early on Tuesday 19th February, 2019, MURIC threw its weight behind the allegations made by Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari against certain foreign diplomats. MURIC’s press statement was signed by its founder and director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“We are not comfortable with the pronouncements of foreign powers regarding the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. There are attempts to intimidate the Nigerian government. These statements stand in contradistinction with the status of diplomats. It is interference, pure and simple.
“How can Western diplomats be leaning towards an opposition party which committed the worst rape on our economy? How can they close their eyes to the brutal pillaging of our common wealth? Who feels it knows it. We are the citizens of this country and we know what we have suffered under the present opposition when they were in power.
“These people were in power for good 16 years. Those were years of nightmare, years of ruination, years of stealing with impunity. They ruined the economy. They sold out all major assets and corruptly enriched themselves. They arrogated our common patrimony to themselves. It was on this account that the Nigerian people rejected them in 2015 by voting for President Muhammadu Buhari, a man known for his spartan life, industry and integrity.
“President Buhari’s team put together the rotten pieces they left behind. He carefully and meticulously nursed the economy back to life and just when things started picking up, the prodigal sons want to take over again. They apologized publicly a few months ago but they want to come back to power immediately. That will not happen. Nigerians are not fools. They should watch from the ringsides and learn how to build a nation. We will reject them at the polls. We say no to overambitious and unpatriotic political shenanigans.
“We call on the foreign diplomats to ask the leading opposition the reason for tendering public apology. Was it not for mismanaging the economy, for stealing public money and for throwing a whole nation into misery? Have they learnt their lesson? Why are they in a hurry to take over after just four years? It is clear from their public pronouncements that they have learnt nothing. They sold vital assets in their 16 years of misrule but now they are saying they want to sell the heart and soul of Nigeria. Now, we must ask the US, UK and EU diplomats, can you ever allow such nonsense in your own countries?
“Nigerians see foreign diplomats hobnobbing with political figures of doubtful credibility as people playing mere lip-service to transparency, probity, accountability and, in particular, the anti-corruption war in Nigeria. The leading opposition candidate has also disappointed Nigerians by leaning towards lobbyists. It is only politicians who have credibility problems who engage the services of lobbyists. Even if lobbying may not be a bad idea, eyebrows must be raised when lobbyists who possess dangerous antecedence in their curriculum vitae are engaged.
“We were shocked to hear that some of the strong members of the opposition have connections to Paul Manafort, a former aide to US President, Donald Trump, who has been indicted with electoral fraud. Equally disturbing is the involvement of Riva Levinson, a woman trained by Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, now hired by Senator Bukola Saraki. These two figures have been fingered in the probe into the interference in the US election by a foreign power.
“Our concern arises from the fact that the leading opposition party (People’s Democratic Party, PDP) with which these professional lobbyists are connected is responsible for the economic rape of Nigeria for good 16 years during which humongous amounts of money went into private pockets. This is clear from statements made by foreign powers in the past two weeks.
“We have juxtaposed intimidating statements made by foreign powers with the coded messages of the leading opposition. The pledge made by the main opposition candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and to enrich his friends was not made to Nigerians. We are certain that it was a coded message to foreign powers and we take serious objection to those pledges as a people. It insults our collective intelligence. It poses a potent threat to our economic independence and erodes our sovereignty as a people.
“We want foreign diplomats to know that Nigerians are greatly impressed by the achievements of the Buhari administration. Its prudent management of lean resources has led to great achievements within a very short period. President MuhammaduBuhari has become the father of modern Nigeria now that things have started working again.
“We call the attention of Nigerians to the unpatriotic attempt by the opposition to sell Nigeria to foreign powers who have no interest of the citizenry at heart. It is an attempt to subvert our nascent democracy and it can only set back the hands of the clock. We therefore call on Nigerians to roundly reject candidates who rely on dubious foreign characters. We must show them that Nigeria is not for sale.
“Greatest Nigerian People! MURIC calls you out to prove your real patriotism and genuine citizenship of our great nation, Nigeria. This is not about party politics. Our nationalistic instincts must now take the driver’s seat. It is now about Nigeria. We may not have the sophisticated technologies of the US, UK and the EU but this country belongs to us and we are proud of it. We have seen the momentous progress made by this administration and we want it to continue. We must shock foreign lobbyists presently collaborating with the corrupt opposition to return our country to the stone age. We must stop those whose sole desire is to subvert our democracy.
“As our parting shot, we remind the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that Nigerians are aware of the ongoing intrigues and manouvres. The people of Nigeria will hold him responsible if he plays into the hands of any local or foreign manipulator.