Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government was embarking on a new plot to scuttle the rescheduled elections, slated for March 28 and April 14, this year.
They alleged that the government was conniving with the leadership of the Senate to ensure that card readers and Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), were not applied in the conduct of the forth coming elections. They warned of a Somali-like situation should the polls be further postponed.
The opposition senators, led by the Minority Leader of the Senator, George Akume, spoke at a press conference in Abuja, where they alleged that the president manipulated the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, through the National Security Adviser and the service chiefs to shift the elections.
They described the action of the president as treasonable.
“There is no country in the world whose leader can sit down and do what we are doing here, to undermine our democracy. That is tantamount to treason. We have nothing like Interim Government in our constitution and of course, there is nothing like coup in our constitution and therefore, we must do the right thing,” said Akume.
“The president himself, has sworn to protect this country and therefore, where he is going wrong, he must be corrected. Elections must be held as rescheduled, it is important that INEC must do this in order to avoid unpleasant consequences.
“Nigeria is a huge and complex society, culturally, structurally, and all hands must be on deck to avoid the Somalia experience,” they warned.
Akume also stressed the need for card readers to be used in the conduct of the elections, saying they will add value.
“We are talking about free and fair elections,” he said. “Time has passed when people carry ballot boxes and papers to their respective rooms, thumb-print and the following days, we have senators, we have members of the House of Representatives, we have governors and we have president.
“The whole world is watching this county. We have become a laughing stock, we are becoming a banana republic.
“If we don’t have troops to provide security cover, it is appropriate to say that we have troops who can intimidate, harass, embarrass and humiliate members of the opposition. It has happened to the national leader of our party and a governor under our party platform. The fact that we are in the opposition does not make us any security risk. We are even more patriotic than those who are in government.
“We want elections and card readers must be applied, they must be used, otherwise, the elections can never be free and fair. If this country called Ghana can get it right, using the card reader, why can’t the giant of Africa do it? If Sierra Leone can do it, even Liberia, why can’t Nigeria do it? We are waiting for INEC to do it, INEC must it. Card readers are a must to ensure free, credible, acceptable elections. To do otherwise, won’t be acceptable.
“We note with regret that in far away London, the National Security Adviser alluded to the possible postponement of the elections on the ground that the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs had not been sufficiently distributed to the people.
“The production of PVCs we know, is the responsibility of INEC. They distribute to the states and the people also come forward to receive these cards. As political parties, we also have the role to play, in ensuring that Nigerians, particularly our supporters have access to the PVCs. It is not that the PVCs put in boxes and kept somewhere, in the INEC office no.
“They are there for people to pick. INEC has produced over 67 million PVCs and of course, every Nigerian who is registered has the responsibility to come forward form them.
“There was the National Council of State meeting and the issue discussed there was the elections and from records, we know that all the former Heads of State supported the holding of the election as scheduled. Former Chief Justices, those who know the law also supported the holding of the elections.
“But INEC later said the elections could not hold for the flimsy ground that the service chiefs said they could not provide security. Security for what?
“We have over 774 local government areas in this country and serious security breaches in the North East are registered in only 14 local governments and therefore, there was no reasonable ground to shift the elections. We recall that in 1999, there was no election in Bayelsa during the first round of voting, elections were later held.
“Under normal circumstances, we believe the situation is also normal now, these affected areas should have been isolated for the purpose of holding elections at a later date. But this was not to be. We are all learned people, educated people to know that elections have been held in Columbia, which is perpetually at war with itself, elections have been held in Egypt, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Mali, Tunisia and other countries. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
“Yesterday, the reason given was lack of adequate distribution of PVCs, later, it turned to inability to provide security cover and we wonder that the multi-national force that has been assembled to fight Boko Haram is just 7000, including the Nigerian troop and we have a troop level of over 100,000 in this country.
“Why is it not possible to hold elections with adequate security cover for those who are supposed to do their jobs constitutionally?
“We believe that there is serious manipulation and a deliberate attempt to undermine and to manipulate the democratic institutions and structures,” Akume said.