INEC worries over insecurity as crises stall APC, PDP, LP campaigns
• In fresh peace move, PDP suspends campaigns
• Tinubu, APC NWC, governors hold crucial meeting over PCC composition
• LP kicks as Okupe unveils Obi’s 1,234-member PCC
• New party won Lesotho, don’t underestimate Obidients, Adamu Garba tells APC
• INEC lists insecurity, and fake news as major concerns against the 2023 elections
Two weeks after the ban was lifted for presidential candidates to begin campaigns for February’s elections, the three leading political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) – are still in a fixed over the composition of their Presidential Campaign Councils (PCCs), slowing down what was anticipated to be a hectic season of rallies.
Of the three, PDP on Monday went ahead to flag off its presidential campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State despite the crisis, but development last night indicated that the party has placed an indefinite suspension on its presidential campaigns in a bid to achieve faster and sustainable reconciliation among its warring members.
The Uyo flag-off was boycotted by the G-5 members, Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), as the Wike camp resolutely stood by its decision to stay off the campaigns until their demand is met, that the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, be made to resign to pave way for acceptable reconciliation.
According to the timetable for the campaigns, the party was supposed to be in Kebbi State, yesterday, and move to Zamfara State today. All these have now been suspended indefinitely.
It emerged yesterday that following failed attempts to resolve the matter, the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, prevailed on the PCC and party leadership to suspend further campaigns, to allow for more practical steps to be taken towards resolving the crisis.
It was also learnt that a special team of party elders has waded into the crisis to renew the peace move. Sources hinted that the party leaders were supposed to meet with Wike and his group.
YESTERDAY, the National Working Committee of APC, its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party’s governors and members of the PCC were locked in a critical meeting in Abuja, which lasted hours. Although the items on the agenda of the meeting could not be immediately ascertained, sources said it was connected with the composition of the PCC, to harmonise the party’s list and also strategies, review and approve the nationwide presidential campaign programme.
Recall that release of a PCC list with the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong as Director General had elicited discordant tunes in the party. The governors, led by the chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu, and the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, had raised the alarm on the composition of the council, prompting the party to postpone the inauguration of the PCC.
Meanwhile, the APC PCC has faulted claims by opposition parties that it has perfected a plot to deactivate the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the 2023 poll. It also said there was no iota of truth that it was bent on stopping the electronic transmission of results at the poll.
APC PCC Director of Public Affairs, Festus Keyamo, noted that the claim spoke volumes that their candidates cannot withstand Tinubu.
He noted: “Those who are sensing defeat are already looking for reasons for that defeat. But I can tell you that it’s one of the excuses they are trying to generate to accommodate their defeat because they know that defeat is imminent.”
The Director of Strategic Communications, Femi Fani-Kayode, speaking at the meeting, said: “All we did today was to review the draft of our manifesto. Our candidate is not the type that operates on his own. He carries everybody along. He presented the draft of the manifesto to all stakeholders that looked at it. And guess what, almost all the stakeholders gave the draft a 90 per cent pass mark.
“We can’t give you the content because we are not going to take it away from our candidate. He is going to present himself before Nigerians on a particular date and occasion. We have set up a small committee charged with the responsibility of reducing the manifesto documents to major highlights in message form we will sell to even the market women and street traders in the most simple language.”
On when the PCC would be formally inaugurated, he said: “Since Mr President is the chairman of the PCC, we are going to take his diary into consideration in picking and choosing the date. However, we have all virtually agreed to hit the street very soon. We have accommodated all the interest groups in the campaign list. There was virtually no disagreement in the meeting today.”
ALSO yesterday, LP dismissed the 1,234 names released to spearhead the Peter Obi and Yusuf Baba-Ahmed PCC. A former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Doyin Okupe, was named Director-General of the PCC, while a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Mohammed Zarewa was named the council’s chairman. Clement Ojukwu and Yunusa Tanko were named secretary and chief spokesperson of the council respectively.
During the event, LP Chairman, Julius Abure, was represented by Secretary of the party, Umar Farouk. However, the National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Arambabi Abayomi, in a short message, said: “We are not involved in Okupe’s mischievous political shenanigans. That is not the party’s programme.
“He can’t be talking about our party, our party all the time. Which party? Is he the leader of LP now to announce himself as the DG? It’s an anomaly. Who announced the DG of Atiku? The party did it. When Tinubu unveiled his DG, the party did it. Where is Peter Obi? Okupe doesn’t know what he is doing. I want to be quoted. The DG ought to go to the Northeast or North-Central.
“We are not a sectional political party. Our presidential candidate is pan-Nigerian. How can we have a presidential candidate from the South and the Campaign DG is coming from the same South.”
Speaking during the unveiling in Abuja, Okupe boasted that Obi had at least 15 million voters ‘in the bag’ ahead of the presidential election.
Okupe noted that 80 per cent of the new voters were supporting the candidate. He added that about 60 per cent of Nigeria’s 38 million social media users are registered to vote, adding that 50 per cent of the figure are ‘Obidient.’
A former APC presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba has warned his party not to underrate LP and his supporters. Garba said this on Wednesday via his verified Twitter handle in a reaction to Lesotho’s new party, Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) that won majority seats in the parliamentary election in the South African country.
The new party, RFP, was formed six months ago by a 64-year-old Lesotho businessman Sam Matekane and it defeated two major old parties in the country. RFP won 56 out of 120 seats in parliament according to final results published by the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission (LIEC) on Monday.
The current ruling party, All Basotho Convention (ABC), which has governed the country of 2.14 million people since 2017 did not win a single seat. Reuters reported that the main opposition, the Democratic Congress (DC) also performed woefully, coming a distant second to RFP in the race. However, LIEC said RFP only fell short of winning an outright majority by a mere five seats in the 61-seat parliament and will now have to find a coalition partner to form a government.
Reacting to RFP’s emergence and victory, Garba said Lesotho’s youths contributed to the victory of the new party, adding that APC must devise tactical campaign techniques to win next year’s election in the centre.
INEC, has however, raised concerns about security challenges in the country, especially in the Southeast and Northwest ahead of the 2023 general elections. The Commission said the security situation in both regions was a major threat to the successful conduct of the elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, raised the concern at an event organised by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) at the NED Headquarters, Washington DC, Unites States of America. Yakubu’s remarks at the event was made available to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi.
Yakubu said the Commission was worried about the security of its officials, voters and the materials to be deployed, noting that “without them, we cannot conduct elections.”
He said the dimension of insecurity in the country compared to what was obtained in the past has changed and now more widespread.
“Are there concerns about the 2023 general election? I’ll be the last to say there are no concerns. The first concern is the perennial issue of insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by the traditional issues of thuggery during elections organised by some of the political actors. I say it is a perennial issue because, at the end of the day, it is nothing new.
However, the dimension of the insecurity is concerning in the sense that in the past, it was localised or confined to a particular part of the country, the northeast. But now it is more widespread and we are keeping our eyes, particularly on the northwest and the southeastern parts of the country.
“Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed. Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies, and they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed. Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections”, he stated.
He said about 2.7 million double registrations were weeded out of the last Continuous Voters Registration exercise conducted by the commission adding that 50 per cent of the new PVCs are ready but yet to be distributed to collection centres. He disclosed that the permanent voter cards (PVCs) would be made available to eligible voters who had registered by November 2023.
Meanwhile, INEC has assured Nigerians of credible polls, insisting that there won’t be ballot stuffing and snatching by criminal elements as it were during the previous elections in the country. The Administrative Secretary of INEC in Kaduna State, Alhaji Muhammed Mashi, said such cases have been rendered impossible because of electoral reform and improvement, preparatory to the elections.
Mashi who spoke on Wednesday when members of a non-governmental organisation under the auspices of Integrity Group for Better Nigeria (IGBN), paid him a courtesy call, said Nigerians would be surprised and happy about the smooth conduct and outcome of the general elections.