Chief Femi Fani- Kayode, a lawyer, a politician, was Minister of Aviation. He is presently the director, Media and Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation.
In this interview with Vanguard, Fani- Kayode bares his mind on the shift in the dates of the Presidential and general elections from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11 by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, whether the action was justifiable, to whose advantage, among others.
By Henry Umoru
Was the shift justified?
I think it was necessary and I think it was important to ensure that the Nigerian people are in a position to vote and that as many people can vote as possible. They gave their reasons and the unfortunate thing is that everybody is talking about just a security situation. It wasn’t just that. The fact that 34 per cent of eligible voters didn’t have their Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs and the fact that there were so many things that INEC were clearly not ready, indications that INEC was clearly not ready for the election. That was the major basis.
For us, I don’t think the six weeks is such a bad thing. We were ready for February 14th and we will be ready for the next date. So it is better to take a little bit of time out and get it right than for us to have rushed into the election in which clearly thousands of Nigerians, 34 per cent of registered voters were disenfranchised. That would have been very sad and it would have placed a question mark on the outcome of the results. So it was a good thing that there was a shift.
We have already endorsed the shift in the original dates of the election as being in the interest of deepening our democracy and in the national interest. We will like to reiterate our commendation of INEC for showing the courage to shift the poll after acknowledging the fact that its state of preparedness was not 100 percent and also after taking into cognizance the imperative of ensuring adequate security for the electorate and electoral personnel especially in the Northeast zone of the country.
In the light of the shift in election dates, the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, acting in concert and synergy with the PDP, will intensify our campaign in every nook and cranny of this country to sell President Goodluck Jonathan to the electorate and Nigerians in general as the best candidate who should be voted for and elected as president in the March 28 presidential election. The campaign will be all-encompassing and robust and it will reach all levels in order to shore up the chances of our various candidates in the elections.
We said that by insisting that the elections should be conducted on February 14th, the opposition was not only dangerously flirting with chaos but was also putting our country firmly on the path of confrontation, division, injustice, disaster and destruction. We posited that a situation where no less than 34 percent of our people would have been disenfranchised is unacceptable and the fact that the APC was insensitive to that fact speaks volumes.
All stakeholders in the forthcoming elections should therefore take advantage of this short extension to get their acts together and prepare for the elections. This is all the more so because there will be no room for a further shift of poll date within the ambit of the relevant extant laws. On the part of the PDP and its Presidential Campaign Organisation, winning elections is our forte and, as always, we are ready. We wish to reiterate our gratitude to our supporters and once again we wish to encourage them to remain calm and patient. We have nothing to fear because we see victory on the horizon. Our party is strong; our presidential candidate is confident; our cause is just; our God is mighty and our victory is assured. No matter what happens and no matter how long it takes, we shall prevail. God bless Nigeria.
To whose advantage was the shift?
Sincerely it is not to our advantage. We would have wanted this to end as quickly as possible. I think it is the advantage of the Nigerian people. Look we need to bring as many people on board. Look, what they did was lawful and constitutional.
My problem with INEC is not what they did. As I said at the time, we commend their courage for doing the right, but my problem with them is the fact that they seem to want to cover up the fact that they themselves were the greatest problem.
They seem to have messed everything up, they were not ready, they were partisan, clearly they were working against us and the PVC distribution issue confirms this. How do you explain the things that are going on and they need to get their act together. Once they do that then they will engender the confidence that they need to engender in the hearts and mind of the Nigerian
Professor Attahiru Jega deliberately failed to tell Nigerians the whole truth that underpinned the postponement, thus providing the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) a questionable platform to accuse us of complicity in the decision to postpone the elections. We must state here and again that the decision to postpone the elections was INEC’s since it is constitutionally saddled with that responsibility.