Peter Obi

Obi carpets U.S State Secretary Blinken over phone conversation with Tinubu, says action ‘lacks clarity’

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Barely days after an American citizen accused the Joe Biden administration in the United States of double standard and ‘outrageous contradiction,’ over a phone call made to the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi has opined that the US government’s decision ‘lacks clarity.’

Peter Obi

This also follows a similar condemnation raised by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who expressed ‘disbelief’ over the action taken by the American government in engaging in a phone call with president-elect Tinubu, which he said only serves to give ‘legitimacy to the widely acknowledged fraudulent election in Nigeria.’

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It would be recalled that the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken, announced, Tuesday, that he had engaged in a phone conversation with Nigeria’s president-elect Tinubu ‘to emphasize his continued commitment to further strengthening the U.S.-Nigeria relationship with the incoming administration.’

A statement released by US State Department Spokesperson, Matthew Miller, said: “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke this morning (Tuesday) with Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu to emphasize his continued commitment to further strengthening the U.S.-Nigeria relationship with the incoming administration.

“The Secretary noted that the U.S.-Nigeria partnership is built on shared interests and strong people-to-people ties and that those links should continue to strengthen under President-elect Tinubu’s tenure. “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.”

The telephone conversation with Tinubu came barely hours after Blinken had announced a sweeping visa ban on Nigerian, mostly the ruling party members and their supporters, indicted for involvement ‘in intimidation of voters through threats and physical violence, the manipulation of vote results, and other activity that undermines Nigeria’s democratic process’ during the 2023 polls.

The 2023 general elections in Nigeria, particularly, the February 25 poll, is still the subject of heated dispute before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT), as two major opposition parties challenge the declaration of Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner and president-elect.

According to Blinken, in the visa ban statement, the indicted ‘individuals, under US Immigration and Nationality Act, will be subject to restrictions on visas to the United States under a policy covering those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy.’

Reacting, Friday to the Tuesday decision to engage Tinubu in a conversation seeking for Nigeria-US relationship, Mr Obi said there is need for clarity from the US government, since, according to him, ‘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.’

“There is still a lack of clarity on the basis of the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken’s call to APC’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 16th May 2023. The most fundamental tenet and core value of democracy is the rule of law.

“Nigeria’s democracy is founded on these principles which the American people hold dear. 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.

“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.

“There is an evolving political and judicial process around the last presidential election in Nigeria. We expect the United States to await the full resolution of the ongoing judicial processes before tacitly conferring legitimacy on any of the contending parties.

“The final determination of the true winner of the election can only be made by the relevant courts of law. More so, the issues in judicial contention imply far-reaching violations of both the Nigerian Electoral Law and the Nigerian Constitution. –PO,” the statement read.

Earlier, Wednesday, Atiku had expressed disbelief over the phone conversation between Blinken and Tinubu, describing it as ‘a contradiction to the publicly stated position of the US on Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election.’

“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 @StateDept @POTUS @USinNigeria. –AA”

Also, on Wednesday, an American mental health practitioner and rights activist, Dr Jeffrey Guterman accused Biden of double standards, saying the latest action by his administration amounts to ‘outrageous contradiction.’

Guterman, who urged the Biden administration to ‘repudiate its recognition of Tinubu as the winner of the Nigerian presidential election’, berated his home government over a series of contradictory actions towards the Nigerian president-elect since March, this year.

Responding to a Twitter user (@kylieatwood), Tuesday, Guterman referred to the Biden policy as contradiction and confusion in the U.S State Department.

“1. Mr. Blinken announced yesterday that the U.S. has imposed entry restrictions on more Nigerians for undermining the democratic process during the 2023 election cycle in Nigeria.

“And yet …     

“2. On March 2, Ned Price, then Spokesperson for the State Department, wrongly congratulated Bola Tinubu for winning the presidential election in Nigeria.

“This is an outrageous contradiction.

“Google searches could have easily educated the U.S. federal government that Tinubu is a drug trafficker westafricaweekly.substack.com/p/bola-ahmed-t… and that the 2023 election was marred by fraud and violence nytimes.com/2023/02/28/wor…. 

“Yesterday, Vedant Patel claimed that these two things can be true at the same time: (1) Tinubu won the election and (2) the election was fraudulent. But sheer logic shows that these two things cannot both be true at the same time.     

“The U.S. State Department is sending the world contradictory messages.

“The 2023 presidential election in Nigeria was fraudulent and the U.S. must not offer congratulations to anyone for winning the election until such fraud is thoroughly investigated.

“I urge the U.S. federal government to repudiate its recognition of Tinubu as the winner of the Nigerian presidential election. The election is currently being contested in the Nigerian judiciary,” the medical health practitioner wrote via his Twitter handle (@JeffreyGuterman).

The 20-minute phone call between the US Secretary of State Blinken and Tinubu is the first of such since the declaration of the later as president-elect in February.

Secretary Blinken assured that Nigeria should expect a good and mutually-beneficial relationship with the US, as he promised to play his part in bringing a sustained and cordial relationship between the two nations to fruition, saying a democratic and peaceful Nigeria is important to the United States as it is to Africa.

It would be recalled that the United States had in March, 2023 officially congratulated the President-elect, Bola Tinubu and the Nigerian people on the outcome of the controversial presidential poll, a development that was faulted by the opposition who viewed the congratulatory message as “unnecessary”.

The congratulatory message also carried with it a charge on President Muhammadu Buhari not to stifle attempts challenging Tinubu’s victory at the courts by opposition political parties, while also condemning widespread violence and intimidation of the electorate at the exercise.

The US further threatened to impose visa restriction on those indicted for electoral malpractices, a threat fulfilled with last Monday’s travel sanctions.

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