By George Okoh in Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has stated that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was only buying additional time before their defeat by forcing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the presidential and National Assembly elections.
The governor who spoke yesterday in Makurdi, Benue State capital, while reacting to the rescheduling of the elections by one week, said if INEC shifted the polls to any date, Nigerians would still reject APC.
He stated that the postponement was planned as evidenced in the statement credited to the leader of the APC in the state, Senator George Akume, that they would cause the election to be postponed and write results.
Ortom described the development as unfortunate, saying for INEC to postpone the elections that it took more than three years to plan, just a few hours to the commencement of voting when people had travelled from far places to exercise their franchise, was a rape of democracy.
He stated that the action was a grand plan by the APC-led federal government to rig the elections, noting however that Benue State and North-central in general, are vigilant and would not allow any form of rigging during the polls.
Ortom stated that the people of the region are prepared for free, fair, credible and transparent elections that would usher in leaders who can anchor the country’s democracy based on the rule of law.
He said dictatorship and nepotism are some of the major characteristics of the present APC-led government at the centre where the constitution of the country is no longer respected.
According to the governor, the APC, which has the resources and claims to be fighting corruption is the worst culprit of corruption in the history of Nigeria, saying it is insensitive to postpone an election in the manner the electoral body had done.
He urged eligible voters in Benue and other parts of the country not to be discouraged by the sudden shift in the election dates and remain resolute until the current APC government of impunity is dethroned through the ballot.
Ortom urged President Muhammadu Buhari to remember the words of the late elder statesman, Maitama Sule who told him when he went to congratulate him on his victory in 2015 that he should ensure his leadership was anchored on the rule of law, truthfulness and integrity where the interest of Nigerians would be protected above personal interests.
He said he was disappointed in the INEC chairman whom he said had subjected Nigerians to untold hardship, saying the people iare angry and even those who were sympathizing with the president would be forced to change their minds.
Ortom, however, sued for calm and patience among Nigerians, adding that what they needed to do at this critical time is to keep a date with the rescheduled elections
In his reaction, Benue APC Governorship candidate, Mr. Emmael Jime said the postponement was devastating.
He said he had worked hard for the election.
“This is really very disappointing outing. We have worked very hard to make sure that we are delivering on this democracy. We should be improving on how we are delivering on our elections, the processes of elections as well. I’ve heard a couple of comments and people saying this happened in 2011 and again in 2015. I totally disagree with this attitude of looking to the past to justify why we are failing. If anything, the last should actually be a lesson and we should be able to learn the lesson of what may have gone wrong in the past so that we can improve on the democratic edition.
But I think as far as elections and the process that leads to the election is concerned, it seems to me that we are really crawling; we are not as fast as we should. And this to say the least, is very devastating to me as a person and I think most certainly for the whole concept of the beauty of the democratic edition. I’m short for words. This is the first time in a long time that I have to say that I can’t find the right word to describe exactly how I feel about this.
“We have to keep in mind that a lot has gone into this and it has taken a lot of toll on the political parties, on even the electoral umpire itself.
“I watched very sad video this morning of corps members sleeping on bare floor; some in buses. This is really devastating and we should never be seeing this sort of thing in the 21st century Nigeria because we will make ourselves laughing stock as far as the international community is concerned.”