PDP Challenges Buhari to Address Electoral Violence, Rigging

Ike Ekweremadu
  • Says third term not an issue because he can’t get it
  • Accuses APC, FG of truncating democracy

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to address the issues of violence, killings and alteration of election results by the All Progressives Congress (APC), under his watch and end attempts to divert from the real issue using the alleged unconstitutional third term he could never get.

Reiterating that the issue of third term was already a dead end, which his touted respect for the constitution would never give life to, the PDP also accused the APC and the Buhari government of driving towards truncating the nation’s 20 years democratic gains, citing the recent Bayelsa and Kogi States elections as evident.

However, with respect to its misfortunes and internal crisis, more PDP stakeholders have begun to call for the full implementation of the party’s Post-Election Review Committee report chaired by former Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu.

While challenging Buhari, PDP, in a statement by the its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that if President Buhari sought to uphold the constitution, he should have used the APC NEC meeting to directly and strongly condemn his party’s resort to violence, killing, forceful invasion of polling units and alteration of results to seize power in the November 16th Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship election as well as the Kogi West Senatorial election.

“President Buhari by now ought to have summoned his service chiefs and ordered a presidential investigation into the violence and observed infractions in the elections, including the deployment of a Police helicopter to teargas voters. It is important to state that such a failure however registers grave meanings to Nigerians.”

The opposition party also said it was unfortunate that instead of taking concrete and decisive steps to bringing the perpetrators of the heinous crimes in Kogi and Bayelsa to book and give assurances of electoral reforms, President Buhari was rather concerned about an impossible third term.
“Our party notes that from President Buhari’s speech, it is clear that he is more interested in the survival of the murderous APC than the survival of democracy, which his party is doing all to truncate since the impunity that was introduced by the APC to manipulate greater part of the 2019 Presidential elections”, PDP stated.

The PDP therefore urged Nigerians to note the president’s well-informed fears that the APC might not survive his tenure.

“Such is a bitter truth of the inevitable mortality of a devious platform upon which Nigerians experienced the worst form of suppression, deprivation and cruelty ever in the history of our nation. Indeed, there is no hope for APC.

“The APC is a party that has brought so much division, bloodletting and hardship to Nigeria, so much that compatriots resorted to suicide and slavery mission abroad as options. Such platform can only thrive for a while.

“It is therefore advisable for Mr. President to abandon the true and unambiguous picture of the fate of his dying party and concentrate on ways to address the problems brought by his administration on Nigerians.

“Instead of attempting to spur a public discourse out of unattainable third term or seeking to mend an already derelict APC, Mr. President should know that Nigerians’ expectation of him, in this second and, of course, last term, is the restoration of rule of law and a legacy of electoral reforms that will guarantee free, fair and credible election in Nigeria. Anything short of this is unacceptable,” the statement stated.

APC Truncating Democracy

On plans to truncate democracy, the PDP said after a further review of the November 16 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States, it had become clearer that the Buhari-led government and the APC did not want democracy to thrive in Nigeria, adding that the party and Nigerians in general had forcefully rejected the results bandied by INEC in the elections.

In a different statement Saturday evening by Ologbondiyan, the PDP said, “We also reject the proposed Kogi West Senatorial rerun election, which has already been desecrated by the manipulations in the main election.

“As long as the figures in the main election are fundamentally flawed, the proposed rerun cannot reflect the wishes of the electorate and Nigerians are wondering if it will make any sense to participate in an electoral process that is already deficient.

“Nigerians across board have completely lost faith in the nation’s electoral process given that Independent National Electoral Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has been annexed and cannot conduct any free, fair and credible election.

“For us in the PDP and, we believe, to majority of Nigerians as well, Professor Yakubu is the worst electoral umpire in the political history of our nation”.

PDP also claimed the police and the military high commands have been reduced to tools of election brutality to ensure that votes do not count.
“Even the Police high command has openly admitted that the police is incapable of protecting voters and votes, thus validating the reported involvement of security agents in the brutalisation of voters and disruption of electoral process.

“More distressing is the fact that Nigerians, particularly our members and supporters in Kogi and Bayelsa states, are still in trauma over the murderous November 16 elections. A lot of our people have been killed and our members are still grieving”, the main opposition party said.
The PDP posited that there were reports in the public space that the APC-controlled federal government did not want Senator Dino Malaye in the Senate just because of his forthrightness in defending the interest of the people.

“Nigerians recall with shock how, at the presentation of the 2020 budget, Mr. President reportedly asked Senator Malaye ‘you, you mean you are still in this chamber?’ A question which meaning cannot be farfetched!

“Our party has been made aware of how INEC and security apparatus have been instructed to use all means to stop Senator Dino from returning to the Senate. INEC had also blatantly refused to consider Senator Melaye’s petitions regarding the November 16 election.”

evertheless, the PDP said that it remained strong and undeterred, adding, the party was aware of that fact that millions of Nigerians looked unto it for strength and direction in their quest for freedom and preservation of their rights, adding, “For this, we will remain resilient till the end.”

Ekweremadu-led Post-Election Review Committee Report

Meanwhile, following its recent internal challenges, more stakeholders had called for the full implementation of the Ekweremadu-led Post-Election Review Committee report.

Although the party and observers had alleged widespread electoral malpractices and violence in the recent Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, many also believed that internal wrangling occasioned by the governorship primaries also contributed to the PDP losses, especially in Bayelsa State.

It was in view of this that the PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) recommended the setting-up of a committee, in the like of the Ekweremadu Panel to probe the party’s losses in the Kogi and Bayelsa elections.

But a member of the BoT, who pleaded anonymity, said what went wrong in Bayelsa and Kogi elections, could have been prevented if the party leadership had religiously implemented the recommendations of the Ekweremadu.

“This is not just about Bayelsa and Kogi States. Our party needs total re-organisation in line with the recommendations of Ekweremadu Panel. This fire brigade approach on Bayelsa and Kogi will not do us any good. What happened in the two states is not different from what happened all over in the 2015 elections and cost us the presidency.”

Ekweremadu Panel was inaugurated on May 5, 2015 to identify the remote and immediate causes of PDP’s poor performance in the general election, trace the origin and process of the seeming decline of the party in its electoral performance, and take a critical look at the preparations and build-up of the PDP to the elections as well as determine its adequacies and lapses.

The Committee’s nine-point terms of reference also included to review and determine the adequacy of the structures for the 2015 general election and how the structures actually functioned; ascertain the degree of anti-party activities, compromises and outright sabotage that might have contributed to the misfortunes of the party at the elections; and to propose a roadmap for the party to recover its past glory.

Although the Panel recommended far-reaching reforms, only its recommendation to zone the party’s ticket for the 2019 presidential election to the North appeared to have been implemented, precipitating the choice of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the party’s candidate.

Submitting the report to then Acting National Chairman, Uche Secondus, at the Wadata Plaza on September 30, 2015, Ekweremadu said, “It is also recommended to the party to strictly apply the zoning principle at all levels.

“In particular, since the last President of PDP extraction came from the southern part of Nigeria, it is recommended that PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2019 general election should come from the northern part of the country.

“This is in accordance with the popular views expressed in the submissions to the committee. This will also assuage any ill feelings in the North over any perceived breach of the party’s zoning principle.”

The panel also recommended direct primaries, saying the delegates’ mode had been grossly abused.

“Furthermore, it is recommended that the party adopts direct primary as the sole means of electing PDP candidates for any election at all levels.
He said the committee also proposed a nationwide biometric membership registration to align the party’s records with modern technology and further boost the integrity of its membership records as a precursor to other reforms recommended.

Giving more details, Ekweremadu explained that, “We have made extensive recommendations, the core of which is to end impunity, uphold justice, entrench internal democracy, enhance party administration, promote transparency and accountability, and return the party to its true owners – the people – in accordance with our party slogan and founding principles.

“The Committee’s work looked at critical areas and issues such as party structure and administration, party finance, legal framework, primary elections, party’s candidates, conflict resolution, campaign organisations, campaign finance, Election Day activities, post-election management, third Party groups/support groups, among others.

“The use of delegates has been grossly compromised and abused, and should therefore be discontinued forthwith to return true ownership of the party to the people,” he explained.