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PDP declares confidence in INEC to conduct free polls

..Says Obasanjo’s endorsement of Buhari is rumour

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA—THE National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu yesterday reiterated the party’s total confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under Prof. Attahiru Jega’s stewardship to conduct a free and fair election.

Muazu spoke after a meeting with a strategic meeting with its governors, and leaders in the National Assembly just as the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Obong Godswill Akpabio dismissed as mischief reports that some of the party’s governors were secretly working for the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming presidential election.

Muazu declared that the PDP has full confidence on the INEC leadership and its team to conduct credible, free and fair elections in the country.

Obasanjo has not endorsed Buhari — MU’AZU

The PDP National Chairman also denied reports that former President Olusegun Obasanjo has endorsed the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, General Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the elections, described the story as mere rumour, adding that Obasanjo remains a member of the party who would not contemplate anti-party activities.

Muazu, who noted that he would not want to  believe what was being reported in the media about Obasanjo’s support for Buhari , but would rather wait until he listens to the former president himself, adding, “I consider this as a rumour. I know Obasanjo is more sagastic and experienced. He is still not just our party member, but one of the leaders of this party. I recall in one of his letters to Mr. President, he said he is against anti-party activity. From my record, he is still a member of our party. He cannot be part of destroying the house he built.”

PDP govs not working for APC — AKPABIO

Meanwhile, Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio has described reports that PDP governors were working for the APC candidate, General Buhari, with a bid to working against the candidature of Jonathan as mischief, untrue, evil and scandalous. He said that no PDP governor is working for the APC, adding that the governors had endorsed Jonathan as the sole candidate of the party because of his track achievements in all the sectors.

PDPchair1He said, “Because the PDP governors believe in Jonathan, that was why they were the first to endorse him for a second term and no other president before him did as much as he did in all sectors of the economy inspite of the challenges.

“That was why no PDP governor applied to be president. Not that we are not capable. I want to repeat, no PDP governor is working for the opposition. The PDP is the party that others have found difficult to beat and I want to state that we are going to return Jonathan to Aso Rock. No PDP governor is working for APC, if there is a party that is difficult to beat, it is PDP.”

Speaking further, Muazu warned that if any governor was doing that which was not true, must stop it in the interest of the party.

On the shift of dates of the election by INEC, Muazu said, “The National Working Committee of our great party met and deliberated on our nationwide campaign as well as a number of issues in the polity especially regarding preparations for the 2015 general elections.

“You will recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) scheduled the general elections to hold on February 14 and 28, 2015 and based on that our great party and all our candidates drew a timetable for our campaigns that have taken us to 35 of the 36 states of the federation.

“During these nationwide campaigns, our party successfully presented our candidates to the people and used the opportunity also to showcase our numerous and verifiable achievements especially the outstanding performance of our beloved presidential flagbearer, President Goodluck Jonathan.

“In the course of our campaign, we discovered that the popularity of our party is soaring, going by the rousing reception we received from Nigerians.

“While we were cruising in the euphoria of the success of our campaign that was leading us to victory, INEC on February 7, 2015, relying on section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) announced the postponement of the elections by six weeks, citing what it called security challenges.

“Although we tend to agree with INEC on the security reasons given for the postponement, we are nevertheless not unmindful of the fact that the commission on its own part was not fully prepared for the February 14 election date.

‘We have faith in INEC’“

Taking the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega on his own words, for the 68.8 million registered voters, the commission had only printed and delivered 66.3 million Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) with 1.3 million yet to be delivered and 1.1 million stolen cards yet to be replaced.

“Also according to Jega, 45.09 million voters cards were collected by prospective voters representing 65.8 percent of the registered voters and 23.71 million PVCs, representing 34.2 percent were yet to be collected as at February 7th, which is exactly one week to the February 14th earlier scheduled date. Compare this anomaly with the 2011 elections where not a single eligible voter was disenfranchised

“By this account, INEC could not sincerely claim to have been fully prepared for a desirable credible, free and fair election at the time when more than 23 million registered voters were going to be disenfranchised.

“Nigerians embraced the idea of PVC as a model to facilitate credible elections and not as instrument of disenfranchisement. Indeed, we have noted the reactions that trailed this postponement, particularly the very subjective statements from opposition leaders alleging that our great party and the government masterminded the postponement to favour the PDP.

“Rather than join issues with the opposition in some of these needless and unsubstantiated utterances, we want to use this press conference to urge for a neat and positive campaign devoid of lies, propaganda and incendiary statements.

“The truth is that the postponement has in no way whatsoever conferred any particular advantage to our party and our candidates. Instead, it came with an attendant loss of time and resources and delayed our celebrations of electoral victory, which with the support of Nigerians, we would have started savoring by Saturday.

“However, this temporary setback rather than dampen our spirit, will be a catalyst to propel our members to consolidate on the milestones already gained by our campaigns and goodwill among Nigerians.

“In the next six weeks, the PDP will continue to patriotically engage in issue-based discussions with Nigerians on our values, manifesto and roadmap for a more prosperous future ahead of the March 28 and April 11, 2015 rescheduled dates.

“Our confidence for victory is derived from the fact that we have an array of very credible candidates, which Nigerians are eager to vote for. Also, our standard bearer, President Goodluck Jonathan, with his humility, performance and verifiable record of achievements has stood himself out as the leader best suited for our country at this point in our national life.

“We therefore want to use this forum to urge INEC to use the period of the shift to ensure that it put its house in order and bequeath to Nigerians the desired free, fair and credible elections.

“For the opposition, we urge them to embrace positive politics by ensuring that its campaign and utterances are such that will help in deepening our democracy. This country belongs to all of us and its unity, stability and prosperity remain our paramount agenda.

“Finally, we call on Nigerians who have graciously reposed their confidence on the PDP for the past 16 years of this democracy not to relent but join in this process of moving our nation to its next phase of transformation and prosperity.”



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