The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that any attempt to rig the 2019 general election would be a recipe for crisis.
The party also said Nigerians have lost confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for attempting to cover its alleged complicity in the widespread impunity recorded in last Saturday’s Kano State local council elections.
PDP’s position was made known yesterday by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, at two separate events in Abuja.
Secondus, who spoke when he received President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), Dan Twining, said the major concern of the party was that INEC and the APC were not prepared to conduct free and fair elections in 2019.
“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election, because if the 2019 election is rigged, it is a recipe for crisis,” Secondus warned.
He appealed to IRI president to meet with INEC to ensure that the conduct of next year’s general elections is free and fair.
Secondus decried the spate of insecurity in the country, noting that Nigerians are passing through difficult times since the APC came to power, but said the PDP has been repositioned to reclaim the presidency it lost in 2015.
“We have strategised and reorganised our party, and today we are happy that we are hitting the ground running.
“We have planned out our strategy on how to get to our people and our major target is the grassroots; we will get to the grassroots and to our supporters,” he said.
Ologbondiyan, in a statement on the alleged underage voting in Kano local government election, accused INEC of registering minors as voters and, as such, should not in any way attempt to exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud, simply because it did not directly conduct the elections.
It said this showed clearly that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable and cannot be trusted.
“We ask: Who is fooling whom? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued them with Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to participate in elections as clearly documented in the Kano council election?
“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the original culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?” PDP asked.
The party said that by resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVCs, INEC has shown that it could not be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.
“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now, it should have ordered the immediate review of its voters’ register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states,” the statement suggested.
PDP added that if the alleged irregularity in Kano local government election was “viewed alongside series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling APC, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the last Saturday’s Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency supplementary election in Katsina, any reasonable person will decode that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.
“While we now hold the statement by INEC as part of our strong evidence of irregularities and violations in the elections, we charge the commission to redeem its name by immediately reviewing and sanitizing its voters’ register in affected states, particularly, Kano and Katsina, as that is the only way it can demonstrate its dependability to Nigerians.”
The party further warned that Nigerians would not accept anything short of credible, free and fair general elections.
“The commission should, therefore, ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be highly resisted,” it warned.
But the ruling APC has dismissed PDP’s claims.
APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, said: “If PDP is sure of what they are saying, they should provide the evidence and approach the police not to sit down and be issuing allegations against APC.”
Abdullahi emphasized that the party would not be given into reacting to allegations it considers spurious.
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