Oshiomhole: I Hope National Assembly Won’t Distort 2019

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Adams Oshiomhole
  • Says small parties demanding money to support Buhari

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday expressed hope that the National Assembly won’t ‘distort the 2019 budget as presented.

Oshiomhole has also alleged that many small opposition political parties are demanding money from APC to endorse President Muhammadu Buhari for re-election in 2019.

He described President Buhari’s presentation of the 2019 Budget as “a successful outing.”

Oshiomhole spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) shortly after Buhari presented the budget at the National Assembly in Abuja.

According to him, “I think it was done very well and analytically presented. It covers all the issues.

“It gives account of the previous budget, how it was implemented and why we will have to consolidate going forward. I think it was a successful outing.

“I’m impressed, I’m excited, and I pray that the National Assembly will not distort it in a way that will misrepresent the tenet and well-thought out outcome.”

Reacting to the rowdiness amid the budget presentation, Oshiomhole said: “I think the lawmakers generally agreed that the budget was good.

“All the requirements of the law have been met, which was to lay the budget. How the senators behaved thereafter is their privilege.”

On his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, simply described the budget presentation as “excellent.”

Meanwhile, Oshiomhole has alleged that many small opposition political parties are demanding money to endorse President Buhari for re-election in 2019.

He also dismissed the allegations of bias made by the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), describing it as unfounded.

Speaking while receiving a delegation of the United States-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) in his office in Abuja yesterday, Oshiomhole said there is a worrisome development being witnessed as the country prepares for next year’s elections.

He said the ruling party has been inundated with requests from many of these parties which he described as “democratic merchants,” begging to be paid money to enable them announce their support for President Buhari.

He said many of the registered political parties which said they were fielding presidential candidates are now ganging up to endorse other candidates.

“I can tell you how many requests I have received from these so-called political parties that if you pay me this, we will announce that we are supporting your presidential candidate. So these people have formed political parties as platform to trade. We do not need to focus on those who are democratic merchants, creating more confusion, generating more heat,” he said.

Currently, there are over 90 registered political parties in the country, with 73 of them fielding candidates for the presidential contest.

About 42 of the political parties have struck a deal with the PDP under the auspices of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) for them to support the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the election.

Oshiomhole also berated the main opposition party for calling for the resignation of the INEC chairman and the Inspector General of Police (IG).

He challenged PDP leaders to a debate over their perceived fears, saying they were the ones who put some of the systems in place when they were in office.

“They want the IG of the police to be removed; they want INEC boss to be removed, but if you look at the evidence on ground, the first election conducted under this president was in Bayelsa State and PDP won. The second one was in Anambra State, APGA, a small regional party, won, and once they win, there are no issues but when they lose, there would raise the issue of bias,” he said.

Regarding the president’s refusal to assent to the amended electoral law, the ruling party leader said the APC feels it is not right to change the election rule on the eve of such elections.

Oshiomhole further alleged that the PDP’s presidential candidate emerged from the primaries through vote-buying.

Referring to what happened with the outcome of 2015 elections, Oshiomhole said a number of PDP governors, including those of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, benefited from the non-use of the card reader machine.

He said: “the Supreme Court tried to show their own bias in favour of the PDP, the court held that INEC rule affirmed the use of card reader but because it is not in the law, it is not necessarily binding.”