Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has said the desperation of the two major political parties in the country to return or retain power by all means constitutes the gravest danger to the integrity and success of the 2019 elections.
This was contained in a statement signed by Kareem Abdul for Center for Public Accountability, Biodun Faluyi for National Frontiers, Kingsely Ogwuike for Citizens Centre for Democratic Governance, Ngene Tobias for Nigerian Yoth Awarenesx Initiative and Opuebele Ikpele for National Democratic Vanguard.
The coalition however slammed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the call by the party that Nigerians have lost confidence in the current Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It noted that the PDP as a party didnâ€™t have the moral justification to pass a no confidence vote on the electoral body or itâ€™s leadership.
The statement reads: â€œSometime around mid February 2018, just after local government elections in Kano State, footage of underage voters in an election went virile generating uproar. The former ruling party, now in opposition- the peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP) alleged that the videos emanated from the Kano elections and accused the INEC of complicity in the alleged electoral malpractices.
â€œThe party, after so much pontificating on â€˜electoral integrityâ€™, declared with finality that â€˜Nigerians have lost confidence in the INEC Chairman,â€™ Prof Mahmood Yakubu. It challenged the INEC Chairman to â€˜sanitiseâ€™ the votersâ€™ register in Kano and Katsina if he wants to be trusted.
â€œLet us assert right away that underage voting is a condemnable electoral atrocity. And we are happy that the INEC Chairman rose promptly to the occasion to condemn the incident and to empanel an investigation to unravel the truth about this unfortunate development. It would be interesting to see the outcome of the investigation ordered by the INEC Chairman.
â€œThe investigation should unravel the source of the videos and those behind the malpractices displayed in them. Every Nigerian who is genuinely interested in credible elections and good governance in Nigeria will be concerned by any act that subverts the sanctity of the electoral process.
â€œBut we do not think that PDP is fair, without any credible evidence, to accuse the INEC of complicity in encouraging underage voting or manipulating the voters register. Nor does the party stand on any higher moral ground to pass a vote of no confidence on the INEC Chair.
â€œIt was too hasty to call for the resignation of the INEC Chairman when the outcome of the investigation was yet to indict him. In any case, if anybody should be passing a no confidence vote on any public official or public institution, it cannot be PDP. Here is an amorphous conglomeration of opportunists of various categories, which masqueraded for 16 years as a political party, mismanaged the affairs of this country and squandered both goodwill and enormous resources.â€
â€œSo, when we read and heard the PDPâ€™s declaration that â€˜Nigerians have lost confidence in the INEC Chairman,â€™ we wondered which PDP was talking and which Nigerians it was referring to or speaking for. Can the PDP speak for Nigerians?â€™
â€œClearly the shenanigans and desperation of the two major political parties to return to power or to retain power by all means constitutes the gravest danger to the integrity and success of the 2019 elections and the consolidation of the democratic process in Nigeria.
â€œThe other major source of concern is the security agencies which have become clearly politicised, partisan and compromised. The destruction of the institutional integrity, professionalism and effectiveness of the police and the military, in particular, have become a major source of threat to the survival of democracy in Nigeria.
â€œThe same register that was used in 2015 which they defended vigorously when the then opposition party challenged its credibility. This INEC has not added a single registrant to the Register except in Anambra and Ondo where elections took place . What has changed?â€
The group recalled that recently, one of PDPâ€™s staunch members, former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, confessed how he helped his party, the PDP to bribe INEC, security officials and officials of other political parties to rig elections for the party all through the years the party was in power.