ALL Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole is not done with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the stoppage of the Presidential and National Assembly elections last Saturday.
Oshiomhole believes that some elements within INEC are colluding with “anti-democratic forces” to push the general elections to a point where it becomes impossible to hold as guaranteed under the law.
The chairman, who spoke at the emergency National Caucus meeting of the ruling party, also said that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has no legal power to stop parties from continuing with their campaigns.
He said that the APC, as a law abiding party, will go ahead with its campaigns until Thursday – in line with the 48-hour before election, as provided for by law.
The APC chairman insisted that some of the staff deployed by the commission have been identified as working with the opposition in their states. He cited Akwa Ibom.
Oshiomhole said that allowing the “anti-democratic forces” to have their way would give victory to those calling for an interim government. He urged the President to act.
“The President should invoke the powers of state to ensure that any institution of state that has misbehaved, anybody that is involved in that act, particularly actions that weaken the fabrics of our democracy, you have a duty to trigger the process that will compel everyone involved in this to account,” he said.
The APC chair said he was sure INEC knew it was going to postpone the elections and shared the information with the PDP, while pretending that all was well.
He said: “As a governing party with huge a support base, we were determined not to disappoint our members and those who believe in our party. We mobilised our members to ensure that on Saturday, the 16th of February, all our polling points were manned by people who are competent and passionate about our party to function as agents of our party.
“We did what is expected of a responsible political party. Unfortunately, we saw INEC magic. Gradually, as if it is a joke, we woke up to the worst; INEC postponed the elections by one week without adducing conducive reasons.
“In moments like this, those who are weak hearted will give up while those determined will fight on. Whoever is involved in this action designed to frustrate our party and members as well as the electorate, it is our collective duty to put them to shame by using the period we have effectively to assure Nigerians that one setback cannot be the end.
“Our commitment to democracy is not negotiable. Our people’s determination to re-elect Mr. President is not at the mercy of anybody, including INEC. Many have resolved that the more INEC tries to frustrate our people, the more determined we are. We want to assure Nigerians that we are committed to a free and fair election and we are not going to compromise on that.
“It will be out of place to ignore all the hidden speculations surrounding the unjustified postponement of the election by INEC. This date was fixed by INEC about two and half years ago. It was not imposed on them and it was difficult to accept that in all of the period at their disposal, INEC did not know what ought to be where and at one time or the other to guarantee free and fair election.
“INEC chairman talked about the huge challenges of managing an election like this. In 1999, we conducted election and there were lessons to learn from that and we have had elections thereafter.
“One had expected that 19 years down the road, INEC would have studied the process of its predecessor and it turned out not to be so. As we speak, we have questions we want INEC to provide answers to. For election to be free, fair and credible, the man with the key responsibility is INEC.
“We have conveyed to INEC, the need to move some officers who have stayed too long in particular locations and have become part of the establishment in those locations and therefore may not be able to co duct free and fair election.
“We have pointed out some Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) who have become so comfortable in their current states who are embedded in the state authority in their respective states.
“In the past, when issues like this are raised, particularly when they can be proven, INEC leadership is known to have used administrative mechanism to change and redeploy. This INEC insists and the more you complain about a compromised officer, the more they are determined to keep the compromised officer.
“For example, an officer in the Southsouth, a REC, chose to use the governor’s special assistant to superintendent over the training. How can our brother and sisters in Akwa Ibom State have confidence when the recruitment, process and deployment of the ad hoc staff is done between INEC and the government of Akwa Ibom State.
“What we are expected to do is to point out what will be unhelpful and draw the attention of the authority. As we speak, that problem persists.
“From what we now know, INEC leadership knew they were going to postpone the election and they shared the information with the PDP and advised them not to waste their resources while pretending to us that they are on top of the situation. I think that INEC deserves to make explanation to us, not because we are the governing party, but because we are a major player.
“What INEC is doing in collusion with PDP is to get the opposition party to be shouting that they want INEC chairman removed under fake attack. If you ask me, I would say that as APC chairman, I second Secondus.
“I have no difficulty seconding Secondus in having a new INEC chairman, if that is what it means to have a credible election. But this is fake; it will be a tragedy if, as a governing party, we cannot complain of being rigged out and yet, the early warning signals are there.
“There are reports of elements in INEC working with anti- democratic forces to gradually move us to a situation where elections will become impossible, having regards to the provisions of the law. Those anti-democratic forces calling for interim government will, therefore appear to be winning.
“It is time to assert the authority of state and direct INEC to begin to do what they need to do and if they don’t do it, they must be made to understand that that there are huge consequences. Whoever will preside over Nigeria must do so on the basis of one man, one vote. Those who want short cut to power must be identified and flushed out.
“We must now go back and renew the campaign with the additional cost it entails. INEC again took a wrong decision to attempt to amend the law through mere administrative pronouncements that campaigns are frozen. INEC is not in a position to make law and the laws made by our parliaments are superior to the opinion of the INEC chairman.
“The law is clear that when you postpone election, you are entitled to renew campaign up to 24 hours to the day of election. Therefore, as a law abiding party, we will proceed to re-energise our members to continue with the campaign and come out in huge numbers.
“When you have a low voter turnout; that is when election rigging is most easy. Voter turnout and voter apathy can result from the confusion. We need to remind them across the country that elections have been rescheduled and they should have faith and be determined to vote.
“We will resume the campaigns between now and Thursday because Friday is not a campaign day. Not going out to campaign can be good for parties without a support base. So, we want to inform INEC that we are proceeding with campaign and we are ready to meet them in court because they cannot, by administrative fiat, amend or distort the provisions of the Electoral Act and those laws are not secret to INEC.
“INEC, having violated our confidence, must now earn it and sustain it every inch of the way. We have been told they will reconfigure card readers and we are told that they are about 180,000. Has it started and when will it be concluded?
“Since we have about 176,000 polling points, it would mean that we have 4000 extra. Is INEC assuring us that the failure rate of the card reader will be about two per cent? What is the basis for making allowances for only 4000?
“Should there be failures above 4000, what is INEC contingency plan? We do not want staggered election, but nationwide election on the same day. So, they need to speak to us on the basis of this small addition. I would have thought that every card reader should have a spare. What they have done create room for suspicion.
“From what we now know, in some states, INEC materials have been distributed, some people have cited some of the result sheets and some ballot papers. What is INEC doing differently to ensure that those who have seen those samples will not go and print them.
“Are they telling us that they have taken care of some of the things that happened last Friday? For example, the materials meant for Edo state were delivered to another state, the ones meant for Delta state were delivered to Edo state.
“Mr. President, I believe that because you are the President, you have dual responsibilities. One is to ensure that any institution of state that has misbehaved, anybody that is involved in that act, particularly actions that weaken the fabrics of our democracy, you have a duty to trigger the process that will compel everyone involved in this to account. We cannot be helpless because at the end of the day, all fingers will point at you.
“We should insist that the election must be conducted properly and those RECs that have been compromised, we will impress on the INEC leadership that they don’t have the right to impose a corrupt or compromised REC on us.
“When sufficient doubts have been raised on the character of a referee, no responsible match official will impose that referee on the players. We don’t care where people are posted to but INEC has the responsibility to move people around.”
The governors at the meeting include: Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Jibrilla Bindow (Adamawa), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Tanko Al Makura (Nasarawa), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara).
Also at the meeting were: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Lagos Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; former Senate President Ken Nnamani; Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan; Power, Workers & Housing Ministers Babatunde Fashola; Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi and Information, Culture & Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed were also at the meeting.
Also at the meeting were: former Zamafara State Governor Ahmed Sani Yerima; former Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio as well as governorship candidates of the party.