- PDP reiterates lack of confidence in INEC
- Insists on Amina’s resignation
- Foreign observers consult with stakeholders
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, wednesday expressed grave concerns over the disposition of the federal government to opposition politicians, saying unfolding events showed a high level of intolerance that has left opposing parties’ candidates fearing for their lives.
The leading opposition party’s presidential flag bearer’s view were expressed through his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, during separate meetings with delegations of the European Union (EU) and the World Economic Forum, who are engaging with stakeholders in the country’s electoral process.
Atiku’s concerns were amplified by his party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who told the EU that recent experiences of the PDP, particularly during the Osun State governorship election, held last month, showed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could no longer be trusted to deliver free and fair elections unless it is purged of some of its senior officials that it believed were working for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP and its presidential candidate, therefore, called on the EU, WEF and the United States to prevail on the federal government and INEC to rededicate themselves and commit to delivering free and fair elections in 2019.
Specifically, Atiku asked the EU delegation to make efforts to stop the APC from intimidating candidates of opposition political parties who, he said, now live in fear.
According to a statement by his campaign organisation, he said there was need for agencies like the EU to strengthen and support the INEC to resist the overbearing pressure from the ruling party.
Atiku said that judging from what happened during gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States, INEC needed to show that it remained an unbiased umpire in future elections in the country.
He said the EU should insist on a level playing field for all candidates and parties during elections in Nigeria, adding, “There is a need to get the country back to its feet and make it better for our children.’’
The former vice president stressed that campaigns should be based on issues so that the electorate and the international community can come to grasp with the problems of the country as well as the solutions being proffered by each of the political parties and their candidates.
On vote buying, Atiku described the phenomenon as new and said it must be stopped.
He said Nigeria deserved the replacement of the EU election observer group, which tenure expires shortly, giving the role EU would play in ensuring free and fair elections in Nigeria in 2019.
Earlier, the head of the EU delegation, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, said that the election observer group had been consulting stakeholders in Nigeria to ascertain whether or not it would be necessary for the union to send a new EU election observer mission.
He said the EU mission had been operating in Nigeria since 1999 and that the union had invested over 100 million Euros in Nigeria’s election process since then.
Speaking at the meeting with officials of WEF, Atiku emphasised the need for closer working relationship with African countries, especially Nigeria, because most governments in the continent do not want to work with the forum for fear of being criticised.
He stated, “A lot of work needs to be done in Africa because things are tough. But we have a clear picture of what the economic priorities are and what the international community feels about the country. Nigeria needs to do something immediately for its economy to be put back on track.”
Leader of the WEF delegation, Nontle Kabanyane, said the forum was ready to strengthen relationships and to implement more activities in Nigeria through a collaboration that would lead to national transformation.
PDP Asks EU, US to Prevail on INEC to Conduct Free, Fair Election
In its engagements, the PDP called on the EU and the US to bring their influences to bear on INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
The PDP also described President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment that those dissatisfied with Nigeria should opt out as not presidential and characteristic of a failed leadership, which had lost all sense of responsibility towards its citizens.
Receiving the EU delegation led by Niclay Paus, the National Chairman, Secondus, said the international community should show more than passing interests in the activities of security agencies during elections.
According to him, “The international partners of Nigeria, especially European Union and US should bring their influences to bear on the INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections.”
Secondus said that intelligence available to the party has shown that the ruling APC has concluded arrangement with INEC to manipulate the electoral process.
He noted that even though the main agent of the APC in the commission and a relation of the president, Mrs. Amina Zakari, was recently deployed from operations department, the chairman stressed that the party was demanding her resignation from the commission as she was capable of influencing others within the electoral body.
Secondus stated that what happened at the governorship election in Osun State merely underscored the party’s fears that INEC was not ready to be neutral.
He said, “When we eschewed violence after the electoral theft in Osun State, and decided to excise our right to peaceful protest, the Inspector General of Police directed his personnel to tear gas us notwithstanding, the personalities involved in the protest, the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, five state governors and National Chairman and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and other critical leaders.
“Our fear is strong that the APC and the administration are not disposing themselves for a peaceful 2019 general elections and we base our position on the multiplicity of induced crisis across the country.
“With all the unprecedented bloodletting in the country, the president is not engaging the people and a select group operating as cabals have hijacked the system.’’
In a related development, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said Buhari’s comment that “Nigerians, who feel they have another country may choose to go,” has further confirmed that he was completely insensitive to the plight of the citizens and had no solution to the myriad of problems his ‘’incompetent and disorganised administration’’ had caused the nation.
He stated, “Such comment is a putrid spit on the graves of thousands of compatriots killed by marauders in various parts of the country, while the Buhari Presidency and dysfunctional APC remained aloof without decisive actions to end the carnage and bring the perpetrators of the bloodlettings to book.
“Mr. President’s comment is also a mockery on millions of Nigerians who have lost their businesses and whose families have been wrecked by the anti-people policies of the Buhari-led APC administration.
“Since Mr. President now knows that Nigerians across board are hurting over the failures of his administration, the least he, as an elected leader, should have done, was to accept responsibility, rise up to the occasion and find solutions, or at least, have some soothing words to suffering Nigerians instead of dismissing their pains and asking them to abandon their fatherland.”