The Sokoto State Chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi, on Monday called on Nigerians to resist any attempt by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to remove the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Addressing journalists in Sokoto, Abdullahi alleged that the PDP was desperate to remove Jega to pave way to rig the general election.
He noted that the recent call for the use of temporary voters’ cards was a plot by the PDP to cajole INEC to abandon its plan to use Card Readers, so as to pave way for rigging.
Meanwhile, the South West Presidential Contact Committee has alleged that from all verifiable indices, the INEC was grossly unprepared to carry out a free and fair election as the published collection of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) was deliberately skewed in favour of the North.
The group in a communiqué issued yesterday in Lagos after a deliberation on the state of the nation added that President Goodluck Jonathan deserve the support of all meaning Nigerians in the arduous challenges of nation building, saying: “It is cruel and unforgiving to intimate that the rescheduling of the election was done to favour the PDP.
But the Sokoto State UPN chairman said: “Democracy is a game of numbers and the only way for a party or individuals to win an election in Nigeria is through legitimate votes of the electorate.
“But with the introduction of the Card Readers for the election and the issuance of (PVCs), it will be difficult for the PDP to rig the election and that is why they are calling on INEC to abandon its plan for the use of Card Readers.”
Abdullahi described the postponement of the elections as laughable and unacceptable, as he decried the deployment of the military to the residence of some APC leaders, saying such would further create tension in the polity.
He called on all Nigerians, student unions and civil society organisations to stand up against attempts to scuttle the current democratic process using security issue as an excuse, adding that: “INEC and the president must ensure that the new dates for the general election are not rescheduled again under any circumstance.
“The handover date of May 29, 2015, is sacrosanct and any attempt to tamper with it will amount to truncating our democracy.”
However, the South-west presidential group led by Chief Olabode George, Senator Seye Ogunlewe Maj. Gen. A.T. Olanrewaju (rtd), Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Elder Joju Fadairo, Otunba Adebisi Omoyeni, Toye Olofintuyi among others insisted that Jega must go.
The group said: “In the light of the deliberate, overt and tendentious policies of Professor Jega pertaining his partisan gestures, nuances, conflicting protestations and most especially his overwhelming partiality in the distribution of the PVCs to the detriment and marginalisation of about 16 million eligible voters of South-west, we, the South-West Presidential Contact Committee Group, hereby appropriately resolves that Jega, having failed decisively in his appointed role of a neutral, non-partisan electoral umpire, should hereby be removed forthwith for gross dereliction of duty and deliberate partisan complicity.”
They added that the intervention of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the current national challenges was distorted, unstatesmanly, too personalised and provocative, adding that Obasanjo cannot and must not assume the role of the Nigerian overlord with infallible wisdom, as “he has descended into the bitter fray of a common partisan actor without the distinction and dignity of a rallying unifying leader.
This is coming as a civil society group, Move on Nigeria, is insisting that the Jega should not be allowed to preside over the conduct of the rescheduled elections, accusing him of aligning with the opposition, APC, and the Northern Elders Forum to rig the elections against PDP.
Addressing the media in Lagos at the weekend, National Coordinator of the group, Mr. Clement Aguiyi, alleged that the current leadership of the INEC could not be trusted to conduct a free and fair election as the policies of the commission under Jega were obviously targeted at returning power to the North.
Citing such instances as the botched creation of 30, 000 additional polling units, 28,000 of which were carved out in the North and 2,000 only in the south, registration of two million amputees and underage persons in the North and the lopsided distribution of the PVCs, which has shown that the North-west, including Katsina, home state of the presidential candidate of the APC Muhammadu Buhari, and the insurgency ravaged North-east, who were likely to vote for the opposition candidate, were better armed with the voters’ cards, the group, which claims to promote democracy and good governance, generally faulted the PVCs’ distribution exercise, alleging that Jega was out to promote a northern agenda and disenfranchise some parts of the country.
“The reason for the postponement as advised by the National Security Adviser (NSA) and stated publicly by him at Chatham House, London, on the 15th of January 15 is that INEC’s attempt to disenfranchise 23million Nigerians (something that has never happened before in the history of this country) is a security risk,” Aguiyi added.