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…Says Action Capable of Trucating Electoral Process, Derail Democracy
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has warned of the consequences of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s continuing withholding of assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill against the will of nigerians.
The party at press conference addressed by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, , Tuesday, alerted Nigerians and the International Community of “a dangerous design by the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to trigger serious political crisis that has the capacity to derail our electoral system, truncate our democracy, subvert our corporate existence and turn our nation into another ‘axis of concern’ to the world.”
The PDP noted that “As you are aware, President Buhari continues against the Will of Nigerians to withhold assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill re-transmitted to him since Monday, January 31, 2022 (clear 22 days ago) by the National Assembly. This was after the Legislature had acceded to and incorporated all his requests in the newly transmitted version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
“The refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is nothing short of a premediated and contrived “political abortion” of the Will of the people as represented by the elected 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives who unanimously passed the Amendment Bill in the first instance.
“The current stance of Mr. President further validates our Party’s position that the Buhari-led APC government is averse to free, fair, transparent and credible elections in our country, particularly the 2023 general elections.
“The PDP wants to draw the attention of Nigerians and the International Community to this.
“On Thursday, February 17, 2022, President Buhari addressed the EU-AU Summit in Brussel, Belgium, whereupon he called on the European Union (EU) to impose weighty sanctions on those engaged in “unconstitutional change of governments” as well as those influencing the “process and outcomes of elections”
“In President Buhari’s words, “We also call for stronger support from the European Union in the condemnation and imposition of weighty sanctions on countries that engage in unconstitutional change of governments as well as manipulation of constitutions in favour of extension of term limits…
““It is therefore imperative for our partnership to also focus on strengthening election processes in Africa and prevent interference to influence the process and outcomes of elections…”
“We urge the President to practice what he preaches.
“Mr. President’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill constitutes an obstruction to democratic principle of credible elections.
“Any electoral process which does not guarantee the free, fair and transparent transmission of election results from the polling units can only result in a government that lacks credibility and legitimacy which amounts to an “unconstitutional change of government” against the Will of the people”, the party said.
According to the PDP, “As you know, President Buhari premised his withholding of assent to the previous version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on Section 84 of that Amendment Bill which provided that party candidates for elections can only emerge through direct primaries.”
The text of the press conference also reads:
In trying to justify his decision, Mr. President stated among other reasons in his letter dated December 13, 2021 to the National Assembly that “the amendment as proposed is a violation of the underlying spirit of democracy which is characterised by freedom of choices. Political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right to freedom of association”
According to Mr. President, “several millions of Nigerians are not card-carrying members of any political party. Thus, the emphasis should be on enabling qualified Nigerians to vote for the candidate of their choice during general elections as a means of participation in governance and furtherance of the concept of universal adult suffrage or universal franchise…”
If indeed the President and the APC mean and believe in the statement above, then there can be no justification for the continuing delay in assenting to the re-worked Electoral Act Amendment Bill which has adequately taken care of Mr. President requests and now sitting on his desk. Voting by citizens should be made easier not harder as the President and the APC are doing.
It is clear that President Buhari and the APC are erecting road blocks to the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill due mainly to the provision for electronic transmission of election results from the polling units which will eliminate APC’s plans to manipulate the system, militarize the process, alter election results at collation centers and foist itself again into power against the Will of Nigerians.
Having been rejected by Nigerians because of its colossal failure in governance, especially in the areas of security, economy and fight against corruption, the APC is in mortal fear of electronic transmission of results because it cannot survive the inevitable crushing verdict of the ballot box in the 2023 general elections.
This ostensibly informed the conspiracy by the APC leadership of the National Assembly to inject the controversy of the mode of primaries by political parties as a camouflage to scuttle the entire Electoral Act Amendment Bill in the first place.
Nigerians can recall that the PDP had earlier alerted of plots by the APC to deploy all manner of shenanigans to delay the Presidential assent until few months to the 2023 elections to enable the President again cite being too close to the elections as reason to withhold assent just as he did on December 6, 2018 after respectively turning down the then Electoral Act Amendment Bill on flimsy grounds in March and September of that year.
In President Buhari’s words on December 6, 2018, “I am declining assent to the Bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new Electoral Bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general elections which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the National Assembly to specifically state in the Bill, that the Electoral Act will come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 General Elections”.
With that, President Buhari set the stage for the APC and its agents to ferociously desecrate the sanctity of the ballot box by brazenly attacking polling centers, altering election results at collation centers, allocating fictitious votes to the APC, destroying electoral data, announcing losers as winners and ending up foisting the APC into power in 2019 against the Will of the people as reflected by the actual votes cast at the polling units.
Gentlemen of the press, less than a year to the 2023 general elections, President Buhari and the APC are at it again! Expectedly, the current anti-people scheme against the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the APC administration is heightening apprehensions across the country of furtive plots by APC leaders to orchestrate a constitutional impasse that can railroad our democracy into an emergency tenure elongation, induced election postponement, self-succession or worst still an interim government situation.
This growing tension calls for concern as it has the capacity to spawn widespread restiveness with consequential violence, bloodletting and attendant humanitarian crisis in the country that may affect the entire West Africa subregion, Europe, America and other parts of the world if not addressed.
This is because Nigerians, especially the youths have become more politically aware and involved, with well-founded and implacable aversion to injustice, oppression, manipulations and undemocratic tendencies as being witnessed under the APC administration. Evidence of this mood became manifest in the EndSARS protest of October 2020.
The situation is being worsened by the arrogant utterances of some officials of the Buhari-led APC administration particularly the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, who is now subjecting the decision of the generality of Nigerians through the National Assembly to personal parochial and partisan whims.
Our Party also has information about how some selfish unelected cabinet ministers, advisers and other top government functionaries with ambitions for presidential, governorship and other elective positions are mounting pressure on President Buhari not to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to enable them remain longer in office so as to continue to use public funds to corruptly pursue their personal political interests.
It is appalling that President Buhari who claims to be fighting corruption is condoning and encouraging this inordinate access to public funds in pursuit of private ambitions. The only way Mr. President can extricate himself is to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill immediately.
The PDP strongly advise President Buhari and APC leaders to stop toying with the aspiration of Nigerians to entrench democracy in our country through the process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections in 2023.
It is even most distressing that President Buhari, who is the biggest beneficiary of credible, free and fair elections conducted by the PDP in 2015 is now in the vanguard to frustrate genuine effort for credible elections in 2023, not minding the huge negative consequences such portends for our dear nation.
Call for Action
Given the precarious political situation in the country today, the PDP calls on all Nigerians, the Organized Labour, Civil Society, Student Bodies, Professional Bodies, Trade Unions and all lovers of democracy across the world to rise up and impress it upon President Buhari to immediately sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill so as to assure Nigerians and avert an impending crisis in our country.
Our Party also calls on the International Community and friends of Nigeria including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Russia, France among others; the European Union (EU), African Union (AU), Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations (UN) to immediately bear diplomatic and political pressure on President Buhari, APC leaders and senior government officials who are intent on derailing our democracy.
Finally, the PDP charges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stand on the side of democracy, resist the APC and get prepared to use technology that abound to ensure the direct transmission of election results from the polling units in the 2023 elections.
Thank you for listening.
Hon. Debo Ologunagba
February 22, 2022