*NEU, Yakassi, blast ACF, NEF
BY EMEKA MAMAH, TONY EDIKE & CHARLES KUMOLU
PROMINENT Northern sociocultural groups, the Northern Elders’ Union, NEU, Northern Elders Forum,NEF, and the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and individuals are now at daggers-drawn over staggering of the 2015 general election timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, also pooh-poohed ACF and NEF’s stand on the staggered time table. Ohanaeze said it was wrong to question INEC for performing its legitimate function.
NEU specifically berated the ACF and NEF over their stand that the commission erred by staggering the 2015 general elections, adding that the timetable was designed to encourage electoral irregularities.
This is coming at a time when the pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said the ACF and NEF’s positions were not in the interest of the country.
Chairman of NEU, Alhaji Ahmed Gusau in a telephone interview with Vanguard, said that INEC had the constitutional right to fix election timetable, adding that only the National Assembly, NASS, could tamper with INEC’s position.
His words: ‘’The NASS is the only organ that can tamper with the timetable prepared by INEC. It is not the prerogative of either ACF or NEF to tell the commission what to do.
“Anyway, it is part of democracy. It is within their constitutional powers to air their views on any issue. Anybody or groups with different views or opinions can channel their suggestions to the NASS which is the only organ that can tamper with the timetable.’’
Also speaking, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, said : ‘’I am a member of ACF. Whoever spoke for the forum on the issue must have spoken his opinion. ACF has not met to discuss the issue. Whoever spoke did so for himself and not for ACF.
“It is impossible for INEC to conduct five elections in one day. We will have logistic problems. The problems that will trail the holding of the state House of Assembly, governorship, House of Representatives, Senate and presidential elections in one day will overwhelm the country.
’’Nigerians do not concede victory or do not accept defeat in any election. Anybody talking about holding five different elections in Nigeria in one day is not serious because it will be humanly impossible to do so. I am speaking from experience.
“They are not experienced enough to understand the problems. I have been involved in the conduct of elections in this country in the last 60 years. If all elections in this country are conducted same day, the reactions that would follow would swallow all of us.
’’We did not discuss the issue in ACF; it is not the consensus in ACF. Media men make this mistake of attributing one person’s opinion to the organisation he belongs to.
“The ACF’s statement quoted the National Publicity Secretary of the group as saying that ACF is not comfortable with the timetable. They can be uncomfortable but that does not mean that ACF is against the time-table.’’
On his part, Professor Ango Abdullahi said there was nothing sacrosanct about the dates the electoral body had chosen for the polls just as a Second Republic politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed said:
‘’The issue is not whether or not the polls should hold same day; the issue is, how competent is Jega and his team of compromised INEC men and women? In my own opinion, INEC is partisan. You will recall that Jega himself had called for the amendment of the Electoral Act before the 2015.
But reacting to the issue, yesterday, Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nwaorgu, said it was wrong to question the election timetable released by the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega and his team, saying they arrived at the decision after due consultations.
“Professor Jega should be given a free hand to run his elections and give the nation a credible poll. He should be respected, the politicians who don’t have analytic mind than Jega should mind their own job if they have job at all.