Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wednesday said President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent demand for credible elections has put a huge question mark on his 2019 presidential election victory and subsequent electoral victories of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted by the current Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
PDP added that the President’s statements have raised fresh issues on the credibility of the February 2019 presidential election.
The party said by demanding that INEC and the police should ensure that the will of the people prevailed in free, fair and credible elections “immediately ahead and going forward,” Mr. President has admitted that preceding elections under the current dispensation have been less than credible.
PDP, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, listed recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states where APC allegedly turned the respective states to theatres of war, yet Mr. President congratulated the ‘winners’ of those charades.
“In his own words, in a meeting with INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, at the Presidential Villa, Mr. President said, ‘our elections must be done in violent-free atmosphere. The process must be free, fair, decent and devoid of intimidations and malpractices. It is the duty of the police to accomplish that and this is what I expect in the elections immediately ahead and going forward.’”
Mr. President added: “those that you declare as winners must be candidates that the people have chosen. Democracy is about free will, and the will of the people must be allowed to prevail.”
The main opposition party described Buhari’s statement as a “weighty verdict” on the alleged huge electoral fraud perpetrated in the 2019 elections by APC.
It said though the verdict of the Supreme Court on the presidential election stands in total obedience to the laws, the party alleged that the fact remains that the violent manipulations of the 2019 elections in favour of APC and its candidates would continue to stare the nation in the face.
“Mr. President’s remark shows that in their innermost conscience beneficiaries of manipulated polls are always confronted with the truth,” the party further alleged.
PDP tasked INEC leadership and police authorities to come clean of the details of their recent meeting with Buhari which was coming ahead of about 28 impending runoffs and by-elections scheduled for this month.
“Our party holds that INEC is an independent electoral commission whose activities and processes are clearly governed by the law and extant rules and not by the dictates or prescriptions of the President.
“Mr. President should therefore steer clear of INEC while the commission must assert its independence and desist from going to the Presidential Villa for instructions on elections. Nigerians have their doubts if the hugely compromised INEC under Professor Yakubu can be anything independent,” PDP alleged.
However, PDP said if, indeed, the President was committed to ensuring free, fair and credible electoral process, he should reintroduce the 8th Assembly’s Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which he refused to sign, and make a fresh commitment to sign it into law immediately it’s retooled to meet current exigencies and passed by the current National Assembly.
It added that the President should order the prosecution of security agents involved in the invasion of polling centres and shooting at voters in recent elections.
“He should also reciprocate the benevolence of Nigerians by recreating an electoral atmosphere like the one that brought him into office in 2015.
“After that, Mr. President should focus on seeking for solutions to the worsening economic and security challenges that have befallen our nation under his incompetent administration,” PDP alleged.