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Open letter to Angela Merkel from Civil Society Groups in NigeriaMay 22, 2007
Ms. Angela Merkel
President, Federal Republic of Germany
C/O Embassy of Germany
Plot 433, Yakubu Gowon Crescent
RE: INVITATION OF UMAR YAR'ADUA TO THE G-8 MEETING IN GERMANY
Civil society groups in Nigeria, under the umbrella of the Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE- Nigeria) received with shock and utter disbelief your reported invitation to Mr. Umar Yar'Adua to the G-8 meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany from June 6-8, 2007 .
To say that we are deeply disappointed at the invitation is a gross understatement. As you are aware Umar Yar'Adua is a product of an 'election' described by European Union Election Observation Mission as "not credible." This assessment was shared by virtually all local and international observers who also reported that the 'elections' were not only below international standards but also below the standards observed in elections in such war-torn African countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This was an election in which Nigerian people in over fifteen states were denied the opportunity to vote; an election in which the electoral umpire deliberately ensured that the ruling party 'won' at all cost; an election in which security agencies connived with the ruling party to rob the people of their mandate through ballot box snatching and stuffing at gunpoint and an election in which over 200 Nigerians lost their lives!
To invite Mr. Yar'Adua to the G-8 Summit in the face of these facts would amount to a provocative endorsement of the perfidious elections and a reward to those responsible for killing over 200 Nigerians that died during the elections.
Your Excellency, the invitation to Mr. Yar'Adua says that he will participate in a special programme of the G-8 summit tagged 'Outreach Africa' where issues of good governance, sustainable investment, peace and security on the African continent would be discussed. We are at loss to understand how a man whose 'election' is characterized by the widespread malpractices outlined above could promote these lofty ideas. Firstly, what kind of good governance are you expecting him to promote when he cannot be said to have been elected by the Nigeria people? Secondly, what kind of sustainable investment can he advance when the cartel that contributed the money with which he robbed the people of their mandate are presently sharing the commanding height of the Nigerian economy amongst themselves as a reward for their political crime? Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, can we honestly expect peace, security and political stability under a Yar'Adua government given the kind of electoral process that threw him up?
Your Excellency, Germany cannot hide under the rubric of an argument that host countries of G-8 meetings have no control of who gets invited as special guests because nothing can be further from the truth. Our investigations show that host countries of G-8 meetings decide who gets invited as special guests. We are therefore really at a loss in understanding why Germany, under your leadership, is doing this when a country as democratically challenged as Russia courageously resisted pressure to invite President Obasanjo to the last G-8 meeting in Russia because of his attempt to manipulate the Nigerian Constitution to stay perpetually in power.
Perhaps, it is Germany 's economic interest in Nigeria that is compelling you to invite Umaru Yar'Adua at the expense of your nation's support for democracy and the wishes and aspiration of the Nigerian people. If this is the case, it would be most unfortunate. We had expected your presidency to take steps to address the opprobrious image of Germany in Nigeria when it supported and worked with such military dictators as Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha against the resolution of the international community to distance itself from their regimes and show solidarity with the suffering people of Nigeria.
Of all the international observer groups, the European Union's was the finest. You stationed people around the country for months before the elections; your Chief Observer, Deputy Observer, and staff met with everyone and gained our trust. Their reporting on the election and the manipulations by the government and the governing party were clear and strong and demonstrated to the Nigerian people that Europe cares about democracy. For you to ignore your own report and to proceed with "business as usual," condoning the rape of democracy in Nigeria is inexplicable. Why send such an excellent delegation if you are going to ignore your own report? Why state your commitment to good governance and democracy if you are going to invite the person who is the beneficiary of bad governance and corruption? Why would you want Europe to look so hypocritical in the eyes of all of us who are fighting so hard for the same democracy that you hold so dear?
Your Excellency, there is still an opportunity to remedy this ugly development and prevent it from rubbing your administration with a paint brush of shame both in Nigeria and across the world. You cannot afford to perpetuate the image of Germany as a country that has no regard for democratic principles and respect for human rights in its international relations practices. Therefore, we urge you to reconsider the invitation and withdraw it in the interest of growth of democracy in Nigeria. Failure to do so will leave us with no other choice and option but to mobilize civil society in Germany and across the world to protest your action during the G-8 meeting.
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