The United States embassy has moved to deny a tweet credited to the country’s Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, where he reportedly gave negative comments about the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate at the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The Embassy, in its twitter account @USEmbassyAbuja, said such statement should be regarded as fake news. The tweet, which the embassy classified as fake news read: “I personally refused to meet him or have anything to do with him (Atiku). I am really surprised that an individual indicted by the United States of America of huge corruption is being considered for Nigerian president…U.S. Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo.”
— U.S. Mission Nigeria (@USEmbassyAbuja) February 21, 2019
The embassy said such statement in either facebook or received via WhatsApp should be regarded as fake. “FakeNews Alert! If you have seen such manufactured content on @facebook, or received it via @WhatsApp. Please communicate that it’s fake news,” the embassy stated. The statement comes less than 24 hours to the presidential elections which holds on Saturday February 23, after it was rescheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, the “logistics and operational problems” he earlier alerted over had prompted the rescheduling of the 2019 general elections. The commission announced the shocking decision just hours before the initial opening of polls on February 16 after repeatedly assuring Nigerians and international observers it was ready for the crucial elections. It blamed logistics problems but did not give details at first.
The decision by INEC was condemned by Nigerians especially for its timing, with many going on to accuse the commission of insensitivity, noting that INEC had not apologised for the inconvenience its decision had caused millions of people. On his part, Yakubu said the commission had been involved in large scale operations in preparations for the polls that “it is therefore not unexpected that such a tremendous national mobilisation of men and materials would encounter operational challenges.”
He said apart from the logistical challenges, there were attempts to sabotage the commission’s preparations, listing fire outbreaks at INEC facilities that destroyed smart card readers and voter cars. The fire at Anambra was the most serious of all. Yakubu said despite those setbacks, the commission rapidly recovered by mopping up available card readers elsewhere. He said if the polls had gone ahead, it would have meant some states starting well ahead of others with the implication of the elections being staggered.
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