INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other parties yesterday took on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which has accused parties of budgeting money to bribe its officials to rig elections.
They distanced themselves from the allegation, with the PDP challenging INEC to mention names of political parties that budget money for rigging elections.
Reacting to the comments by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, at a conference in Abuja on Monday that political parties made monetary provisions to bribe INEC officials, the party said given the electoral reforms initiated by President Goodluck Jonathan, INEC officials cannot influence elections.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, told THISDAY in Abuja that this was demonstrated in the results of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States in which even the candidates of the PDP lost despite the fact that Jonathan campaigned for them.
He also chided the former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who also at the conference criticised PDP for losing focus and for allowing moneybags to hijack the party.
He said one of the reasons Nwodo was removed from office was his futile attempt to hijack the party in his home state, Enugu.
He said: “We heard what the INEC chairman said that some political parties bribe INEC officials to help rig or influence elections, but our response to this is that the INEC chairman should be honourable enough to mention the names of the political parties involved.
“Under the circumstances of transparent and fair elections, INEC officials can no longer rig or influence elections.”
He urged INEC to mention the names of political parties that offered bribes to it, so that it would enable PDP to reclaim the two states.
On the comment by Nwodo that PDP had been hijacked by moneybags, Metuh said: “PDP is very accommodative and this explains why the party still accepted members like Nwodo that took the party to court back into its fold to become the national chairman.
“Let it be on the record that PDP is a mass movement and therefore, there is no truth that the party has been hijacked by moneybags or a clique. It was Nwodo that made a failed attempt to hijack the PDP in Enugu State.
“The people of the state resisted him. He cannot turn around and accuse the party of being hijacked by moneybags, when he was the person that made a failed attempt to take over the party in Enugu State and the people resisted.”
Metuh warned Nwodo, who is a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, against what he described as unguarded comments, adding that the party has procedures for members to channel their grievances, if any.
On the comments by the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Bola Tinubu, that the opposition would dethrone PDP in 2015, Metuh said: “This boast is a challenge to us and let it be known that the religious and ethnic antics of the opposition are not tantamount to a viable opposition.
“We are ready for the opposition political parties come 2015 and we assure them that the elections in 2015 will be free and fair and PDP looks forward to 2015 so that this matter would be settled on which political party is acceptable to the people.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief Emma Eneukwu, denied that the party has ever made monetary provisions to bribe INEC officials and will never do so.
According to him, “If we are budgeting to bribe INEC, we will not be diminishing the way we are in some states. If there is any bribing, then it is done by PDP, not my party.
“We only budget for our agents, but budgeting for INEC, it is clearly the practice of the PDP.”
On his part, the National Chairman of Labour Party (LP), Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, said the allegation was unfounded but that it is not too difficult for Jega to call a spade a spade.
He said Jega must have been referring to the big political parties that have money and not small parties like LP that is struggling to meet its financial obligations.
“For him to say such a thing means he must have experienced such pressure from moneybags in the big political parties,” he added.