By Adedayo Akinwale
The Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, has that the country has recorded some progress in terms of management of elections under the All Progressives Congress–led federal government.
But he was quick to add that there was need to improve on the Electoral Act.
Lukman, while reacting to the resolution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum on constitutional amendment and alleged constitutional breeches by the APC-led federal government, said it would not be right to predict that PDP governors had ulterior motives in the advocacy for free and fair election in Edo and Ondo states.
Speaking with select journalists on Monday in Abuja, the director-general said the PGF had made tremendous impact on how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors now conduct their internal affairs because their current chairman and the Governor of Sokoto state, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal is a former member of the ruling party.
According to him, “I think we should welcome that PDP is talking and interested in free and fair election. And we do hope that it is really what is behind their agitation. My position is that it is a work in progress and whether anybody likes it or not, we have made qualitative improvement as a nation from a situation where elections can be predicted long before the actual election based on the choices of people, especially the ruling of the president. That had been the case under the PDP. Now, it is no longer the case. The evidences are there. In almost all the places we contested elections, where as a ruling party we won, we won by a margin which shows that contest took place. That was not the case under the PDP.”
Lukman added: “Just reflect back before 2015, what used to be the case, there was a time in 2007, INEC will announce election result before elections are concluded. Between 2015 and today, has that happened? It has not.
Remember in 2014, Ekiti election, talking of using security agencies, some governors were blocked by security agencies from entering Ekiti state. Has that happened since 2015? It has not.
“The issue is that there is a level playing field, let people go and mobilise voters to vote for them and I think that is the issue. But that does not take away the fact that we definitely require improvement in the Electoral Act and I think if you listen to the leadership of the National Assembly, they have said so, and they are already working on it.
“So, whatever PDP wants to do I think it should be geared towards engaging the process to further perfect the Electoral Act.”
The director-general noted that he would await the details of the outcome of the Legal committee set up by PDP, headed by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, before it would engage the opposition party.
Lukman recalled that towards the end of last year, PGF inaugurated legislative committee under the chairmanship of Gov. Aminu Bello Masari, which later held a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly after its inauguration.
“Following that meeting, the steering committee of the PGF legislative committee was expanded beyond the initial two members from the National Assembly to now include about eight members which includes the two leadership of the National Assembly.”
Lukman stressed that PGF had series of meetings and a technical committee was set up and on the basis of the work of that technical committee, to review the report of the Gov. Nasir el-Rufai committee on ‘True Federalism’.
After the review, the director general said some priority issues were identified and presented to the legislative committee which were adopted and now pending deliberations by the APC Governors’ Forum.
Lukman said once the forum decides, the next action would be to engage the National Assembly because they are issues that border on constitutional amendment, stressing that it is beyond just electoral matters and also covers contentious issues like resource control and true federalism.