Barely three months to the 2019 general election, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said it lacks confidence in the preparedness of the Independent National Commission (INEC) to organise a credible poll.
Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, made this known when he received a delegation of the European Union (EU) of election exploration mission to Nigeria led by Niclay Paus, yesterday.
Secondus said every intelligence available to the party showed that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had concluded arrangement with the electoral umpire to manipulate the voting process.
The party chairman said what happened during the governorship election in Osun State underscored the party’s fears that INEC is not ready to be neutral.
Secondus added that though Amina Zakari, who he described as the “main agent of the APC” in the commission has been redeployed from operations department, she is still capable of influencing others within the electoral body.
“When we eschewed violence after the electoral theft in Osun State and decided to exercise our right to peaceful protest, the Inspector General of Police (Idris Abubakar) directed his personnel to tear gas us notwithstanding the personalities involved in the protest – the senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives, five governors and national chairman and members of the National Working Committee and other critical leaders of the party.
“Our fear is strong that the APC and the administration are not disposing themselves for a peaceful 2019 general election and we base our position on the multiplicity of induced crisis across the country
“With all the unprecedented bloodletting in the country, the president is not engaging the people and a select group operating- ing as cabals have hijacked the system,” he claimed.
He urged international partners of Nigeria, especially the EU and America, to bring their influence to bear on INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
He also wants them to show more than passing interests in the activities of security agencies, particularly the police.
However, the APC dismissed the accusation by the opposition party that it was conniving with INEC as unfounded.
Spokesman of the ruling party, Lanre Issa-Onilu, told Daily Sun that overwhelming evidences have shown that INEC is clearly favouring the PDP.
He cited instance of the electoral body writing to the APC over the primary election in Zamfara State without sending similar correspondence to the PDP that committed the same offence in Kano State.
The APC mouthpiece further noted that instead of preparing for next year’s general elections, the PDP should rather apologise to Nigerians for all the damage it did to the country during its 16 years in the saddle between 1999 and 2015.
“I have said that I won’t join issues with the PDP, but the opposition party lacks the rectitude to talk about having trust in the INEC. The PDP is rather the one conniving with INEC. For example, the opposition party did not conduct primaries in Kano State yet INEC did not write to them as it did to the APC over Zamfara State and I am sure they have submitted the nomination list to the INEC.
“Ordinarily, the PDP should not even be talking of participating in next year’s elections because
of what they did to the people of this country. It is not about the APC but the electorate they cheated in the past,” he said.
Similarly, INEC dismissed the PDP’s claim as trivialities, which it said it had no time to talk about, because they were capable of distracting the Commission from its focus of preparing to deliver a free, fair and credible pull next year.
Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, told Daily Sun that the commission won’t join issues with the opposition party that does not know what it takes to organise election.
“We have just 114 days to the 2019 general elections and you will agree with me that the Commission is very, very busy at the moment, tidying up preparations for the election.
“This is not the time to pay any attention to careless comments by individuals or groups who have absolutely no idea about what it takes to organise a credible general election in a country like Nigeria,” he noted.
It is the second time PDP would be accusing APC and INEC of plot to compromise the forthcoming poll.
During a meeting with EU delegation in September, Secondus had described the APC and INEC as threats to credible polls in 2019.
Addressing the three-man delegation which paid him a visit at the National Secretariat of the party, had Secondus said Nigeria was sitting on the keg of gunpowder under the APC-led government.”
“The nephew to Mr. President, Amina Zakari is in charge of INEC operations, so how can they be fair?
“We want the international community to make a statement. The EU must make a statement that unless the 2019 election is free and fair, we have an illegitimate government.
“As we speak today the economy is gradually sliding into another recession and the people of Nigeria have spoken clearly that they don’t want this government again. As it stands now, APC and the government of the day are threats to democracy in Nigeria.”
He alleged that the APC and INEC had a grand plan to rig the polls massively at the grassroots level where there would be no international observers.