Why APC is against electoral reforms ― PDP
• Says ruling party suppressing not opposition
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to initiate an amendment to the Electoral Act, noting that the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) was against such move because it would prevent it from rigging elections
The National Chairman of the main opposition party, Prince Uche Secondus, who made assertion while receiving INEC officials at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Monday, advised the electoral body to move quickly to legalize electronic voting and bar military participation in the voting process.
He said: “I am not going to bore you with issues that are well known to your commission in your reviews of elections but I would like to urge your commission to move quickly and initiate Electoral Act amendment that will legalize electronic voting and remove the influence of the military as primary security on the Election Day.
“The ruling APC, unlike the PDP, is not disposed to any electoral law that will prevent them from manipulating the system, we in PDP expect INEC to be at the forefront of the process to have a legal framework for the conduct of free, fair and credible election.
“Such legal framework should address the issue of security, electronic voting and collation of results and punishment for electoral offenders.”
Secondus affirmed that during its 16 years in power, the former ruling party oversaw electoral reforms which culminated in its loss of power in 2015.
He added: “We are a party guided by the rule of law and we religiously follow the dictates of democracy, anchoring our strength on the Nigerian people in line with our slogan-power to the people.
“Recall that our party came to office in 1999 and nurtured our democracy for 16 years, during which our party carried out an extensive electoral reform that culminated in our loss of power and the entry of the opposition since 2015.
“That seamless transition of power from the ruling party to opposition remains the finest time for our democracy and indeed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The global democracy stood in salute for us as a nation.
“Unfortunately, both INEC and the government in power have been unable to replicate or grow on that fine foundation.”
The party boss regretted that the PDP has been prevented from playing its role as a viable opposition because of intimidation from the ruling APC.
He stated: “On our side as an opposition party it has not been easy operating under a ruling party whose understanding of democracy is impunity, intimidation and coercion.
“As a result, we have found ourselves often attacking your commission, especially where we found some of your operatives unable to detach their interest.
“We are standing vindicated in the eyes of many electoral watchers as all our fears and apprehensions ahead of election came to fruition in the general election of February and March this year, the preceding governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states earlier and the latest being the November 16, 2019, gubernatorial election in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
“Despite a standing lawful court ruling that military should be kept at a distance during elections as secondary security, we have all watched how they not only took over the primary security role from the Police but in some instances dictated and even connived with some INEC officials.
“Nigerians have watched how the Electoral body unable to control the military relinquished their responsibility to them and still curiously went ahead to authenticate such fraud.”
While admonishing INEC that the survival and sustenance of the nation’s democracy rested squarely on the integrity of the commission,
Secondus further said: “The effect of bad elections in our polity has been far-reaching, stagnating the political and economic development and permanently hoisting on the people unpopular and incompetent leaders. The tension and uncertainty in the country today is clearly a fallout of election mishap in February.
“Free, fair and credible election is exactly what PDP and indeed global democracy demand and expect from INEC.”
In his response, on behalf of the delegation, INEC deputy director in charge of Election and Party Monitoring, Musa Husunu, promised to take home the concerns of the party.
He explained that the delegation was at the PDP secretariat on a routine verification exercise of evidence of party national secretariat in Abuja, copies of the party constitution, list of National Executive Committee members, the physical presence of National Working Committee (NWC) members and party’s book of accounts.