Don’t Shift Polls, 26 Political Parties Tell INEC

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The 26 registered political parties in the country, yesterday in Abuja, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to postpone the forthcoming general elections slated for February.
Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) – the body of the registered parties -, Mr. Yunusa Tanko, stated this in Abuja, yesterday.
Speaking with journalists at the quarterly meeting of INEC with the leadership of the registered political parties ahead of the general elections, Tanko declared that all the political parties’ electoral body were ready and fully prepared for the polls.
He said all the registered political parties were already on the field canvassing for votes.
He also added that a lot of human and material resources had been committed towards having successful elections in the country.
Tanko said, “As we speak INEC has not come out to tell us that the elections will be shifted; INEC has been carrying the registered political parties along in all the preparations for the February polls.
“Though there may be challenges in the area of distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards that is not enough to postpone the elections. To us it remains agitation and we are not in support of the idea.”
He however urged INEC to approach the Federal Government for possible declaration of public holiday to enable all eligible voters who were yet to collect their PVCs to do so before the elections.
This action, he said, would be more honourable than postponing the elections under the pretext on non-collection of PVCs.
Speaking on the pockets of political violence trailing the campaigns of the leading political parties in the country despite the Abuja Peace Accord signed by the 14 presidential candidates, Tanko said the IPAC condemned the violent acts in strong terms.
He said that a committee had been set up to monitor the activities of all political parties, saying that IPAC would not hesitate to take legal action against defaulting political parties and their members.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has demanded a concrete statement from INEC on the February dates for the elections. It also warned that no one should interfere with the conduct of the elections.
The party said it has uncovered a fresh plot by those it called anti-democratic forces to use the courts to postpone or scuttle next month’s general elections.
APC called on the judiciary to protect the nation’s democracy, urging Nigerians to “repudiate the desperadoes” and their allies who are behind the plot.
In a statement in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC said after the efforts to stop its presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), failed, those the party described as anarchists had perfected plans to “use the courts to stop the elections at all cost.”
It alleged that the case instituted at a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, seeking a declaration that Buhari lacked the requisite qualification to contest the February 14 presidential election, was the first in a series of court cases to be instituted to stop the polls. “We are not surprised at this, because these desperadoes are so predictable. They are following the footsteps of the infamous Association for Better Nigeria, which helped to annul the 1993 elections and which threw Nigeria into a crisis from which it has yet to fully recover, over 20 years later.
“We can only appeal to the judiciary not to become a willing tool in the hands of those who will stop at nothing to scuttle the elections, just to perpetuate their firm grip on power,” APC said.
The party argued that President Goodluck Jonathan was afraid that if the elections would hold as scheduled, he would lose to Buhari by a wide margin.
APC said, “An ally of presidential aide, Doyin Okupe, had revealed that President Jonathan will rather have the military take-over than hand over to the APC candidate. Though Okupe has made a tepid denial, the revelation has exposed the thinking and the desperation within the Presidency, ahead of the elections.
The party said, “we are also aware that up till this moment, the President has yet to repudiate the ex-militants in the Niger Delta, who have threatened the country’s very existence if he (Jonathan) is not re-elected, as if elections are won by fiat.”When this is added to ongoing moves to depopulate the North-East, which is an opposition stronghold, using scare tactics, one can see that this presidency and the PDP are as terrified and desperate as they can be.”
It also appealed to Muslims “not to send their Personal Identification Number to anybody for whatever reason and to continue to pray for peaceful elections and security if the nation.”
Responding, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, assured that the commission would overcome all its challenges before the commencement of the elections in February.
Speaking during his quarterly meeting with political parties at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, yesterday, Jega insisted that INEC was determined not only to conduct free, fair and credible elections, but violence-free polls.
“I want to use this opportunity to assure all of you that as we promised Nigerians, we are working assiduously to ensure that we prepare adequately and that we conduct elections that are free, fair, credible and peaceful in 2015
“I want to also assure you that we are committed to ensuring that the elections we will conduct will be remarkably very- very much better that those we conducted in 2011.
“We believe that even though there may be challenges, Such as the distribution of the PVCs, We feel confidently that with the measures and mechanisms that we have put in place, that these challenges are challenges that we can overcome.
“We shall overcome them well in advance of the conduct of the 2015 general elections,” he said.
He said the meeting was an avenue to provide an update on the preparation for the 2015 general elections.

Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi (middle) receiving the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus of the State of Georgia, led by Hon. Dee Hawkins-Haigler (right), at Government House, Port Harcourt while another member of the team watches.
Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi (middle) receiving the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus of the State of Georgia, led by Hon. Dee Hawkins-Haigler (right), at Government House, Port Harcourt while another member of the team watches.