• Say commission must reinvent self ahead of 2019 polls
• Party’s committee to produce consensus presidential candidate
• Buhari, El-Rufai, Ambode, others get nomination forms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum yesterday passed a vote of no confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), questioning its readiness to conduct credible elections in 2019.The forum also condemned the Federal Government’s alleged use of security operatives for political ends and the refusal by President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill.
“INEC needs to reinvent itself as a truly independent umpire of the electoral process in the country. For now, we have no confidence in INEC. The commission has conducted itself as a tool of the APC-led Federal Government, especially with the roles of the chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, and a national commissioner, Mrs. Amina Zakari,” the forum said in a statement by its chairman, Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.
The governors denounced “in strong terms the politicisation of security agencies by the Federal Government. We observe that security agencies have become organs and tools of the APC-led Federal Government to harass and intimidate the opposition and dissenting voices.”They decried the use of security agencies for the alleged perpetration of electoral fraud in Ekiti, Osun and Rivers State and urged personnel to be non-partisan in the performance of their duties.
The forum also criticised “the flagrant violation of democratic ethos by operatives of this government as shown recently in the infamous act by the police at the residence of elder statesman, Pa Edwin Clark, and the harassment of innocent Nigerians on frivolous claims.”The governors described as unacceptable an alleged “surreptitious, selective and suspicious payment of N16 billion purportedly from the Paris Club Refund. We are of the view that the money is to fund corrupt inducement of voters in the forthcoming governorship election in Osun State on September 22, 2018.”
Also, the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) disclosed that a committee has been set up to liaise with all the party’s presidential aspirants to produce a consensus candidate.BoT chairman, Walid Jibrin, said the decision was reached during a recent meeting.
Meanwhile, Buhari will today at 11:30 a.m. receive the expression of interest and nomination forms purchased for him by a group, the Nigerian Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN). The presentation of the N45 million documents will be made at the New Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.The presidency has kept silent on allegations that Buhari would be violating provisions of the Electoral Act by accepting the forms, with the opposition PDP urging him to reject the “indecent” offer.
Edward Gyang Pwajok, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and House of Representatives member from Plateau State, however, said the group’s gesture violated no law.“Buying the expression and nomination form for Buhari to contest the 2019 presidential election by a youth group is legal. There is nothing in our Electoral Act that makes donations of money beyond any limits illegal to an aspirant,” he explained.
While Buhari awaits his forms, Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, yesterday was “surprised” when members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and four other groups presented him with the costly papers.“I don’t have N20 million to buy my form. I have only one account in GTB. Except I sell my house, (I will not) be able to raise that amount,” he told the delegation, declaring he had accepted the form in good faith and would re-double his efforts at improving the lives of the citizens.
This was as Mohammed Sani Sidi, a PDP governorship aspirant in the state, vowed he would scuttle El-Rufai’s chances of re-election. The former director general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) made the assertion as he submitted his form, flanked by cheering supporters.
At a carnival-like ceremony, Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode, also picked the document yesterday, saying: “By this humble process in which I have collected my nomination form, I ask you to give me your support as I seek to continue with your mandate to steer the affairs of our state. I ask you to believe again and together, let’s achieve more.”
With the elections closer, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) disclosed plans to raise a legal team that would partner INEC to curb vote buying.IPAC chairman, Chief Peter Ameh, who dropped the hint during the inauguration of the organisation’s new executives in Abuja, promised: “We are going to have a legal team that would interact with INEC on how best to solve the menace.”His pledge came as another organisation, Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement [YIAGA] AFRICA, urged the executive and legislative arms of government to ensure the Electoral Amendment Bill is signed before the end of September.