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INEC, APC differ with PDP over ‘violent’ polls

Gbade Ogunwale and Bolaji Ogundele Abuja

  • PDP alleges rigging collusion
  • APC: opposition should wake up
  • Credible poll collective duty, says INEC
  • Dickson: 22 killed during Bayelsa election

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday threatened to boycott future elections unless the electoral process is reformed.

It accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of collusion to manipulate recent elections

But the APC told the PDP to reform itself and stop living in its past while the electoral agency said conducting a credible election is a collective responsibility.

INEC said it is a creation of the law, which lacked the powers to reform the electoral process – a power vested in the legislature.

PDP Chairman Uche Secondus, who spoke while receiving a team of Election, Party Monitoring Department of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Wadata Plaza, Abuja secretariat of his party, made reference to PDP’s defeat in Ekiti, Osun, Bayelsa and Kogi states, in the last governorship elections.

Read Also: Defection of 20,000 APC members to PDP a charade – APC chieftain

The 2019 elections, he claimed, were the height of electoral impunity that set the nation’s electoral development backwards.

Secondus  said the elections eroded the credibility of the electoral process and the integrity of INEC, adding that the military hijacked the polls in different parts of the country.

He said: “We stand vindicated in the eyes of many electoral watchers as all our fears and apprehensions ahead of the elections came to fruition in the general elections of February and March this year.

“The preceding governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states earlier and the latest being the November 16, 2019 gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

“Despite a standing lawful court ruling that military should be kept at a distance during elections as secondary security, we all watched how they not only took over the primary security role from the police, but also in some instances, dictated and even connived with some INEC officials.

“Nigerians have watched how the electoral body, unable to control the military, relinquished their responsibility to them and still curiously went ahead to authenticate such fraud”.

The PDP chairman called on INEC to immediately initiate moves for the amendment of the Electoral Act, with a view to legalising electronic voting and removing the influence of the military during elections.

Secondus lamented that unlike the PDP, the APC was not disposed to any electoral law that would prevent manipulation of the system.

He charged INEC to be at the forefront of the process to have a legal frame work for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country.

His words: “Such legal framework should address the issue of security, electronic voting and collation of results and punishment for electoral offenders.

“The survival and sustenance of our democracy rest squarely on the integrity of the electoral commission which will derive from the character and the impartiality of its operatives.

“The effect of bad elections in our polity has been far reaching, stagnating the political and economic development and permanently hoisting on the people unpopular and incompetent leaders.

“The tension and uncertainty in the country today is clearly a fallout of election mishap in February. Free, fair and credible election is exactly what PDP and indeed global democracy demand and expect from INEC”.

Leader of the INEC team, Mr Musa Husunu, a deputy director in the Election and Party Monitoring Department, said they would take the PDP chairman’s observations to the leadership of the electoral body.

But the APC through its spokesman Lanre Issa-Onilu faulted the request by Secondus. He said the major reform needed in the Nigerian political environment is the reorientation of the leadership of his party.

Issa-Onilu, told The Nation in Abuja, that the PDP needed to rebrand, and forge a new political ideology.

Nigerians, according to him, will continue to reject the PDP until it found a new identity.

Issa-Onilu said: “The most important reform before the leadership of PDP is to change their ways. By now, they should have realised that their old underhand political methods no longer work. PDP should adjust to the reality of an emerging political environment where manipulation, intimidation, and brigandage are becoming unhelpful to any political party.

“While at it, they should remember to find a political direction with clear and purposeful ideology that can benefit our country. Until they achieve this, no amount of electoral reform can cure PDP of its malady. Nigerians would continue to reject them until they do away with their odious ways”.

Also, INEC reminded politicians, that the conduct of credible polls was a shared responsibility.

It restated its commitment to the conduct of credible elections in the country and asked the stakeholders to support it in the discharge of its duties.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Commission’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said: “The commission is a creation of the Constitution and the law with clearly defined mandate and responsibilities. The Commission is not vested with legislative powers but operates within the ambit of existing laws and powers donated to it by the Constitution and the Electoral Act to make Regulations, Guidelines and Manuals.

“The Commission is irrevocably committed to the conduct of credible elections and will continue to improve on its processes and procedures. The conduct of credible elections is a shared responsibility and the Commission enjoins all the critical stakeholders to join hands with the Commission in the task of conducting credible elections”.

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