By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – Saturday’s election into the various offices of the Kogi state chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria NYCN is now threatened due to complaints by election observers about irregularities that have marred the screening exercise.
Observers who have been monitoring the exercise since Monday at the Lokoja Township Stadium faulted the Screening Committee for allegedly shifting the goalpost in the middle of the game.
In a preliminary report made available to Vanguard in Abuja, one of the observers, Ismail Mohammed of ‘Youth in the Gap’ said while the committee granted certain waivers to some aspirants, it disqualified others without extending the waivers to them.
“They introduced a caveat in the middle of the whole process, saying aspirants who have never held positions in their various local government chapters are not eligible to contest. The funny thing is that the council’s constitution is more like a secret document which many of the aspirants cannot even access; again, this caveat was never spelt out before people purchased their forms.
“However, what could detract from the fidelity of the entire process now is that the committee went ahead to clear some aspirants, granting them waivers. Then they disqualified others based on this same provision for which they granted some aspirants waivers”, he explained.
A youth activist, Alabi John who also monitored the screening exercise urged government officials in the state to allow the council freehand in electing her officials.
“What kind of body of youth allows themselves to be barefacedly manipulated by government stooges and vested interests who care little about their welfare? Why is an election fated with so much seeming misgivings and anomalies? If someone from the West can be cleared to contest the election without citing any clause why should someone from Central be disqualified with the same clause? Are the rules guiding the operation of NYCN not same from persons to persons?”, he queried.
Efforts to get the Secretary of the committee, Baba Razaq were futile as he did not respond to telephone enquiries.
However, outgoing chairman of the council, Suleiman Mazai Farouk said while the constitution could not be bent for anyone, the council has a ‘tradition’ of granting waivers to some aspirants where the screening committee feels the provisions of the constitution had not been ‘substantially’ breached.
“The constitution cannot be bent for anyone. I was once a victim of the same constitution. Nearness to requirements is the key word”, he said.
One of the aspirants for the position of secretary, Abubakar ‘Moon’ Onimisi accused some state actors of trying to influence the outcome of the exercise.
”They have shown resolved determination to disqualify me in as much as I don’t bow into accepting their offer of lower position. The screening was one done with patricidal malice. A constitutional provision that was never used or even seen by the screening/electoral committee was immediately invoked at my turn of screening. The waiver enjoyed by other candidates was denied me. Reasons are that I am not their anointed and that I am too critical of the government of the day”, he alleged.
However, Farouk said granting aspirants waivers do not automatically translate to winning elections.
“Even if he (Onimisi) is granted a waiver which is not possible, his organization is not known to the council, so of what effect will the waiver be if he cannot even come as a delegate? Meaning his being in the contest would not stop Abdulrahaman (the other aspirant) from winning; that I am sure of”, he said.