The recent postponement
of the 2015 general elections to March 28 and April 11 from the initial February 14 and 28 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has no doubt attracted mixed reactions across the country.
In fact, since the penultimate week’s postponement, reactions have not ceased: till date, more reactions have continued to emerge from various individuals, groups political parties, etc.
In the face of these reactions, however, two phenomena are easily identifiable: the one party blaming a perceived opposition for the postponement; and emphasis on the need for all and sundry, particularly those who believe on the same goal, to remain calm in the face of what they term deliberate intent to cause problem in the polity.
There had been accusations and counter-accusations, name-calling and pointing of fingers to various directions to the point that the question of who is afraid of holding the 2015 polls has become inevitable. All of these have mostly circled around the key actors the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the main opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC).
In spite of assurances given be INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, on holding the elections, as stipulated by the body’s programme over a year ago, on February 14 and 28, and amidst speculations of a possible shift, the first noticeable hint of a shift came from the PDP, as alleged by the opposition.
According to the opposition, the PDP-led Federal Government started the process by first putting Jega under intense pressure. The physical manifestation of this pressure, they alleged, came through Chief Edwin Clark, a First Republic politician regarded as President Jonathan’s Godfather.
Clark, they recalled, had called for Jega’s resignation some weeks earlier over allegations of the INEC boss having been acting the script of the APC. He was send to be backed by such key figures as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, and the Director of Media and Publicity for the President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign team, Femi Fani-Kayode.
Metuh was quoted in a statement to have alleged that “The party (PDP) had received overwhelming evidence from citizens in APC states following its earlier alarm that non-indigenes who form the bulk of PDP supporters in Lagos were being denied their PVCs”.
The PDP further alleged that in addition to Lagos, the same thing also applied to other APC-controlled states, including Kano.
While debunking these allegations, APC’s National Public Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said in a statement, “it is shameful that those who should be working hard to promote peaceful elections as secheduled are the same ones doing everything possible to trigger violence.
“Those who should ordinarily be seen as elder statesmen have degenerated to dangerous partisans and shameless promoters of a narrow, parochial interest at the expense of the national interest,” he said.
When the election was finally postponed on reasons of insecurity and logistics the national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, was quoted as saying that the postponement was not due to the reasons given by INEC.
According to Tinubu, “what happended on Saturday was actually not a postponement due to security or logistics reasons. What happened was the by-product of over political interference undermining the independence of the election management body. INEC.
“The elections were postponed not because they could not safely be held. They were postponed because one man, President Goodluck Jonathan, feared that an election held in February would for him become an election lost,” hence “while the month was (that of) Jega, the words were (that of) Jonathan,” he said.
In his reaction, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, said the May 29 hand-over date of the PDP-led Federal Government to the APC cannot be postponed.
Speaking while receiving some defectors from the PDP in Benin City, Oshiomhole said, “you heard what happened. They said they have postponed the elections. Few days back, they called us for a meeting at the council of state and we said they should go ahead and do the election.
“In any event, we are not the only country with security challenges. Even election is held in Afghanistan and Iraq so, whether they postpone the election or not, we won’t fight. They can’t postpone Christmas.
“They can postpone the election, but they cannot postpone May 29 handover date. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t fight, make peace, we will use the remaining six weeks to mobilise more, pull out more people from the PDP so that Edo State will be 100% for APC”, he said.
The International Community also had things to say about the postponement: while the government of the United Kingdom (UK) declared the postponement as being wrong, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called on all political actors to respect the decision by INEC and accept it in good faith.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, in a statement, noted that the decision by the INEC to postpone the election was a cause for concern.
“The Nigerian people have the right to credible, peaceful and transparent elections. There should be no further delay in delivering democracy and I urge all to remain calm during this period of frustration,” he said.
Hammond continued that while the UK supports Nigeria “in its struggle against terrorism, the security situation should not be used as a reason for denying the Nigerian people from exercising their democratic rights.
“It is vital that the elections are kept on track and held as soon as possible in accordance with international norms,” he said.
While noting the concerns and disappointments of Nigerians and all other stakeholders occasioned by the postponement, the ECOWAS urged all political actors to respect INEC’s decision.
The regional body used the opportunity to call on the Nigerian security services to be dedicated towards restoring normalcy in the North-Eastern part of the country.
It also encouraged the electoral body to take advantage of the postponement to complete all pre-election arraignments, particularly the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), in order to ensure free and credible elections, while also encouraging political stakeholders to refrain from utterances that may incite their supporters or opponents to violence.
The opposition also expressed fear of what they hinted could culminate into a constitutional crisis. National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun clearly captured this stance in a media briefing in Abuja.
According to him, “it is important to note that the Service Chiefs letter to INEC demand postponement for ‘at least’ six weeks. This, we must note, is a body trap. Embed in that phrase ‘ ‘at least’ is a window to push for another postponement.
“It is clear, however, that any further postponement can only lead to a constitutional crisis. The constitution demands at least 30 days before the handover date of May 29, we have strong suspicions, but hope this postponement is not part of an agenda to create, a constitutional crisis in the country. We are just recently recovering from the crisis precipitated by the political crisis of 1993. We can’t afford aother,” he said.
In spite of the seeming convention of the opposition that the postponement of the elections from the earlier scheduled February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11, is a ploy for the PDP to want ample time to catch up with the popularity of the APC, the PDP also allege that the postponement is to prevent an imminent crisis APC was planning as a back-up plan to excuse its non-acceptance by the populace.
The Ekiti State chapter of the PDP stated unequivocally that “the postponement of the general elections has saved the nation from monumental electoral crisis that would have trailed the outcome if the election were to be conducted as earlier scheduled.”
A statement by the secretary of the state PDP, Dr. Tope Aluko, stated that “the outcome of the election would have been sarcastically embroiled in an unprecedented crisis by the time the APC looses out.
“The opposition APC would have incited almajiri’s and their likes in other parts of the country that president Jonathan had deliberately disenfranchised voters in the North Eastern States, where they claimed is their stronghold, to facilitate their failure in the election.
“The APC had chosen this as their back-up strategy to destabilise the country after the election, which they knew many not be won by their candidate, General Mohamadu Buhari”, he said.
Dr Aluko stated further that “although the leadership of the APC is armed with the field report that even in Borno State, PDP can spring surprises because of the popularity of PDP leaders there, they still wanted the election to proceed in order to actualise their plans of causing national disaster.”
Advising the country’s security agencies ahead of the new dates for the elections, a body of prominent Nigerian’s under the aegis of “The Patriots” urged security agencies to be politically neutral in the discharged of their duties during and after the 2015 elections.
While addressing the media after a meeting attended by the members at of the FRA Williams Chambers in Lagos, the chairman and foremost Nigerian Constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, said the body supports the decision to shift the election date for security reasons.
“We’ve studied the reason cited by the INEC. When you give security reasons, it is not easy for you if you are not knowledgeable about security to say no.
“When they said they needed time to strengthen the security, it is only a foolish chairman that would say they’re saying rubbish. There is also the issue of preparedness of INEC to provide all that is needed. So, it makes sense to postpone election,” he said.
In all of the claims and counter claims, allegations and counter allegations and the sort on the postponement of the elections, all parties involved seem to be more bothered about countering whatever stance the opposition takes than considering the key issues raised.
These positions taken do not seem to be far from the fact that all political players one way or the other understands themselves, and know the capabilities or otherwise of the other, backed by what they seem to inadvertently, picture as an unreliable political system incapacitated by a constitution that can be taken for granted by anyone privileged to do so.
The implication is that all concerned acknowledge that the constitution as it is currently can be exploited at will and little can be done about, hence it can be not be trusted, even as it is widely quoted.
Thus if all the parties concerned really care for Nigeria as true patriots, perhaps, one major exposition of events related to the 2015 general elections is the fact that Nigeria is in dare need of a system that could really be trusted.
…Urges Ondo Gov To Shelve N2bn Gov’s Lodge Project
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised the Ondo State government to shelve its plans to build a new governor’s lodge at the cost of N2 billion in the interest of the state.
Mr Fatai Adams, the state PDP Chairman said this when he spoke with newsmen at the state party secretariat in Akure, yesterday.
Adams expressed concern over mass resignation of doctors in the state due to poor remuneration.
“We are seriously alarmed by the unfortunate resignation of over 109 doctors from the state public service over the inability of the government to pay their due salaries and hazard allowances as at when due.
“I’m sure you will all recall that Ondo State was the destination for medical tourism in the South West because of the first class service delivery found here under the PDP administration.
“According to the Nigerian Medical Association records, no medical house officer has been employed by the state government since 2019, a situation that is responsible for the poor services rendered in the hospitals.
“The present administration has a backlog of unpaid salaries of workers, it is proposing to build a N2 billion new governor’s lodge in Akure. This is not only ridiculous but the surest evidence that the government has completely lost direction,” he said.
Adams added” “Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Oluwarotimi Akeredeolu’s predecessor built a very befitting governor’s Lodge in 2013, a few years before Akeredolu assumed the reins of government.
“To spend N2 billion of tax payers money on another lodge at this time is the height of callousness and wastefulness,” he said.
Senators Rate 9th National Assembly High
Senators on Wednesday at plenary commended the 9th National Assembly at the mid-term assessment of its performance in the last two years.
The lawmakers, who spoke during a special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, commended the various legislative interventions of the National Assembly, especially on security, economy and governance.
The lawmakers, who spoke included the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi); Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice (APC-Ondo); Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi (APC-Niger), and Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi).
Others were Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara); Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue); Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos), Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC,-Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun), and Suleiman Umar (APC-Kwara).
The rest were Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC-Bayelsa); Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP-Ondo); Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau); Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi); Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo); Nora Daduut (APC-Plateau); Jibrin Isah (APC-Kogi); Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa), and Francis Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun), amongst others.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in a speech delivered at the special session, said 742 bills were introduced by the ninth Senate in the last two years.
According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.
Contributing, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the realignment carried out on the budget cycle by the National Assembly was to insulate businesses and the economy from going into recession.
Deputy Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi, said: “As we celebrate two years, we are guided by the legislative agenda.
“The unity of purpose which we have worked for, has enabled us to achieve those great strides.
“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) is a testimony on how the National Assembly has been able to work in unity in the interest of the nation.
“We need to work together to find common grounds to problems that beset the country,” Abdullahi said.
In his own remark, Sen. Garbriel Suswam, said: “Inspite of challenges and shortcomings, the 9th Assembly had taken major steps to achieve some of its legislative agenda.”
He said that the executive has been intransigent in implementing the resolution of the National Assembly.
He appealed to the Senate President to ensure that the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly was passed transparently, while accommodating provisions for the use of electronic card readers and electronic transmission of results during elections.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, on his own part, described Executive-Legislative relations under the ninth Assembly as a good one.
The lawmaker, who called for the introduction of State Police, to curb rising insecurity in the country, also advised that the constitutional review exercise, be used to bring the South East region at par with other parts of the country.
Sen. Solomon Adeola similarly said that the Senate had on two occasions rescued Nigeria from a looming economic crises when it slid into recession.
He added that such a prompt response was extended by the National Assembly to the issue of insecurity amid its recommendations to the Executive arm of government, which were aimed at tackling the spate of insecurity faced by the country.
PDP Inaugurates E-Registration Committee
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday inaugurated e-registration Committee to facilitate electronic registration of its members nationwide.
The committee is Chaired by the Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, while Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State is the Vice Chairman.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the inauguration of the committee in Abuja, said that the e- registration was a project dear to the party and had been on the card since 2010.
Secondus said that the party decided to digitalise its membership for proper database, due to its size, reach and to move with time.
“When we say that PDP is the largest party in the continent, we are not grandstanding but stating the obvious.
“There is no nook and cranny of this country that you won’t find PDP members.
“In 2019 general elections, the PDP was the only political party that fielded candidates in all the positions: Presidency, Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives and in all the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly.
“Even in states where we are not in power, our members still out number even the ruling party in such states.
“We are the only party since inception in 1998 that has been consistent in name, motto, manifestos and logo,” he said.
Secondus said that reports available to the party across the country showed that many more Nigerians want to join PDP and that the exercise would provide them such opportunity.
Secondus advised members of the committee to use their wealth of experience to deliver on the mandate assigned to them.
“In appointing you as the Chairman of this project, the party took into consideration your background and your love for data and record keeping.
“We have absolute confidence that you and your team will deliver in this assignment that is expected to update the database of our party across the country.
“Membership registration into our party is a continuous programme, what we are embarking on is to digitalise it for proper analysis of issues.
“The place of women and youths in our party cannot be over-emphasised and this programme is going to help toward proper planning in our party,” Secondus said.
Obaseki, in his remarks promised that the committee would reach out to PDP members across the nation.
He promised that the exercise would be all inclusive to the men and women, especially youths who were living in the digital world.
Obaseki said the committee would leverage on the existing platform of the party and produced a membership register that the party would be proud of .
“It is very worthy that our party being a big party has decided to digitalised membership and position the party to take over in 2023,” he said.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, retired Col. Austin Akobundu is the Secretary to the Committee, while the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan; Agbi Emmanuel, Prof. Wale Oladipo, Sani Kutigi, Cyril Maduabum and Hon. Austin Opara will serve as members.
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