17th December, 2013
Nigeria’s main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC Tuesday warned that it will resist attempts to disenfranchise voters in parts of the country where it has strong following.
The Party was reacting to a statement by Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on Monday that elections may not hold in the three states of North East Nigeria which have been under emergency rule as a result of the activities of the Boko Haram insurgent group, except the security situation improves before 2015.
Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, the three states in the North East affected by the Boko Haram insurgency are governed by APC governors.
“You can’t conduct elections under emergency rule, because emergency rule is generalised insecurity and if there’s insecurity, how can you do election? If you do election, the situation is that you can’t have free and fair election under emergency rule. If the commission were to go ahead with elections despite the insecurity in the states you will be going through the rituals – either the election will be disrupted or people will not come out to vote. Ideally, elections can’t hold under emergency rule.”
Jega, spoke at a stakeholders’ hearing on preparations and challenges ahead of the 2015 general elections organised by the Senate Committee on INEC, on Monday.
But rising from the 7th regular meeting of its Interim National Executive Committee presided over by Chief Bisi Akande, the party chairman, APC said the assertion by the INEC Chairman fits into “the strategy of the Jonathan administration to depopulate areas where our party has strong following and suppress voter turnout in the Northern and South-West states through deliberate exacerbation of insecurity,” it has earlier alerted the nation about.
“We suspect that wittingly or unwittingly the recent declaration of INEC that elections are not likely to take place in states under state of emergency is in furtherance of this agenda,” the Party said in the communiqué signed by its Chairman.
While warning that it will not accept large scale deliberate disenfranchisement of the citizenry, APC said it will fight to defend the right of every eligible Nigerian voter to vote. The Party also said it will resist any attempt to extend the current state of emergency without any justification in the affected states using every lawful and constitutional means. The opposition party which also reiterated its position that the problem of insurgency can only be solved by a combination of carrot and stick approach therefore charged President Jonathan to live up to his responsibilities by ensuring that every part of Nigeria is safe enough for elections.
The Party also warned that the ongoing move to remove the five governors who recently defected from the PDP into its ranks will be resisted.
“The APC has noted with concern the threats of the PDP to procure a pliant judge to declare the seats of the G-5 governors vacant in spite of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Atiku in 2007.
“ It is of note that several times governors, including their legislators from other parties have decamped from the ANPP and PPA to the PDP even when their former parties were not factionalized without any consequence.
“The APC will not only resist this lawfully but hereby warns the PDP to desist from words and deeds of impunity that threaten our stability and democracy.
“We also hope that the judiciary will not be a party to the deliberate promotion of lawlessness and impunity in our country. APC will give its governors and lawmakers the necessary support in defence of their rights and freedoms of association.
APC also noted on Tuesday that the various acts of impunity, corruption being committed by the federal government constitute threats to the nation’s democracy and stability.
APC cited the gross abuse of the ecological funds and other illegal funds through the selective and unjust disbursement of funds to only Non-APC states, diversion of revenues that ought to have been paid into the Federation Account running into trillions of Naira and plundering of funds budgeted for parastatals, pensions, and the fuel subsidy.
“We call on the National Assembly to commence the immediate investigation of these constitutional violations and act in consonance with Nigeria’s constitution. This has become necessary to save our nation from falling off a fiscal cliff caused by excessive theft and corruption.
The Party also said with INEC performance in the conduct of bye-election and elections in Imo, Delta, Jigawa and Anambra States, it has doubts about the ability of the electoral umpire to conduct the forthcoming elections in 2014 and 2015.
The opposition party however said INEC should be adequately funded provided that biometric registration and accreditation be made conditions precedent for the required financial support. “Democracy is not sustainable without free, fair and credible elections, and the APC warns that those that threaten this foundation are trying to destroy an edifice that they never built, but of which they are the biggest beneficiaries,” said APC.
The Party also said it was concerned about the situation in Rivers State where a handful of what it described as rebel legislators working hand in hand with the State Commissioner of Police have held the State hostage for over a year.
“Sadly, in the course of the meeting, the APC learnt that another deadly attack was perpetrated against the Rivers Government House where the office of the Deputy Governor was partly destroyed.
“This and other acts of impunity clearly show the PDP, its agents and governments to be lawless. The APC warns that these acts demonstrate clearly that this government is anti-people, dictatorial and would go to any length to plunge the country into chaos.
The Party said there must be an end to the current situation in Rivers or else the situation may led to the unraveling of Nigeria democracy. “This display of impunity and the Faustian bargain between the police commissioner and a handful of rebel legislators has gone on for a full year. It must stop.
“Now is the time for all men and women of goodwill to speak up against the assault on an elected government and violations of the right of Rivers citizens.
“The international community is hereby put on notice that Nigeria’s democratic journey unravels and Rivers State might be the lightening torch for Nigeria’s descent into impunity. We wish to re-state once again that whatever touches one APC state affects the entire party.
“Our party will therefore not stand idly by and watch democracy desecrated in Rivers State or elsewhere in the country for that matter.
Notable party leaders including Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonayya Onu, and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as well as the Governors of Kano and Rivers States, representatives of the Governors of Adamawa, Sokoto and Kwara States and Alhaji Kawu Baraje attended the meeting.