PDP governors, Abubakar, Nwabueze, others insist on March 28, April 11 polls
In the same vein, former Head of State Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar and Project Nigeria Movement led by Prof. Ben Nwabueze(SAN) have counseled against further shift of the elections.
The governors who for the first time met in the All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled Lagos State, also expressed apprehension about the preparedness of the electoral umpire for the polls.
The meeting, which began on Monday evening and was held throughout the night ended with an interactive session with journalists and civil society organisations where the governors took turn to explain to Nigerians the reasons why they should vote for President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term in office.
Setting the agenda for the session, chairman of the Forum and Governor of Akwa Ibom State,Godswill Akpabio hinged the call on,among other factors, the success being recorded by Nigerians forces in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency.
He called on the international community, especially the United States (U.S) to be more involved in the fight against Boko Haram “now that its affiliation to ISIS and other terrorists group has been fully established.”
He accused the opposition of failing to acknowledge the giant strideS that Jonathan had recorded against insurgency, saying: “they grudgingly however acknowledge the exploits of the Nigerian forces without giving credits to President Jonathan.
He said, it was good that the election was postponed because over 23 million Nigerians who have not collected their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) would have been denied their rights to vote.
He said these figures would have been equivalent to five West African countries and that the INEC chairman, Prof. Attaihiru Jega himself admitted that at the time that the election was scheduled to have been held on February 14 one million voters PVCs were yet to be printed in China.
He also expressed doubts about the workability about the card reader technology, the failure of which, he said was apparent during last week’s test run across the country.
According to him, “giving the failure rate of the card reader in the test, millions of Nigerians would be disenfranchised during election proper.
“We are pleading that the election should not be postponed because the impression is being created that we the PDP don’t want the poll to hold even when it is sure that we are going to win the election.”
Chairman of the Northern Governor’s Forum , Babagida Aliyu took the opportunity to deny the allegations that seven PDP governors are on their way to joining the APC.
He said the G7 governors who defected to the APC were only calling on the leadership of the PDP to rectify some anomalies in the system but some of them took the opportunity to seek personal ambitions.
He also debunked the argument that the 16 years of the PDP in government was a waste.
On the postponement of the initial scheduled February 14 elections, Aliyu said if the election were held as original scheduled “Nigeria would have been in chaos.”
He also explained that a Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency would ultimately shortchange the North in the end.
According to him, “We learnt that Buhari promised the APC to spend one term in office and by the time he leaves he would have no authority to determine whether a northerner would take over.”
Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido said the APC is not an alternative to the PDP.
He urged Nigeria to wake up because the country was going through tribulations and there is the need for us to move away from the culture of hate and defend the unity of the country.
In his contribution, Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko said the achievements of President Jonathan was second to none in the last four years and that Buhari is never an alternative to Jonathan.
Abubakar’s assurance is coming amid speculations of another indefinite extension of the polls coupled with alleged plans for an interim government.
The former military leader who spoke spoke while fielding questions from journalists, stressed that his assurances predicated on President Jonathan’s affirmation and support for INEC to conduct the elections as rescheduled.
While declining knowledge of possible plan of an interim government, Abubakar wanted Nigerians to give President Jonathan benefit of doubt on his pledges to ensure INEC conductS free and credible elections in the country.
Reacting on his meeting with former South African President Thabo Mbeki and
Buhari in Kaduna , Abubakar said “ its a personal meeting”.
The former military head also urged peace as the nation prepares elections.
Prof Nwabueze who spoke on behalf of the group, disagreed with those calling for another shift in polls based on the premises that Nigeria is currently at war and as a result the Constitution should be invoked to extend the tenure of both the executive and the legislative arms of the government.
Nwabueze said that the proponents were wrong on the interpretation of the relevant constitutional provision which says the tenure of these arms of government could be extended if the country is at war.
Explaining further on the said provision, the legal luminary stressed that what the relevant section meant was when the country is engaged in war with another country, not when is tackling internal insurgency.
According to Nwabueze, “We are concerned about the idea being taunted by commentators that elections might not be practicable by March 28 and April 11, 2015 or some other constitutionally authorized time schedule , and that the executive and legislative tenures should be extended beyond four years in accordance with the provisions in sections 4(2), 135(3), 105(2) and 180(3). Those provisions are clearly not applicable, and it will be unconstitutional to invoke them, by reason of the Boko Haram insurgency in the four North-East States.”
Speaking more on this provision, the elder statesman said, “The term “war”, in the legal sense in which it is used in the provisions above, means war with another country. The decided authorities establish that a country cannot legally be at war with itself or with part of itself. Civil war is not war in the legal sense or in the sense in which the term war is used in the provisions mentioned above. Those provisions must be read together with section 5(4)(a) which provides that “the President shall not declare war between the Federation and another country except with the sanction of a resolution of both Houses of the National Assembly sitting in a joint session.”
The group while commending what it called President Jonathan’s courage in convening the National Conference, however challenged the two frontline candidates to make an open declaration and commitment to implement the report of the conference.
“Whilst Jonathan had shown a singular courage, which his predecessor could not muster, in convening and inaugurating a National Conference, and deserves to be applauded for it, there remains, however, the issue of the implementation of the decisions of the Conference, which can only be fully accomplished, not by the amendment of the 1999 constitution, but through a new Constitution adopted and approved by the people in a referendum. Accordingly, President Jonathan must, likewise Buhari make an unequivocal public statement avowing his commitment, if re-elected, to implement the decisions of the National Conference in the way and manner suggested above.”
The group also urged the electorate to bear in mind the significance of the poll particularly the presidential election to the survival, peace and stability and continued unity of the country when casting their votes.
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