By By Dirisu Yakubu
In the lead up to the last general elections in 2015, one issue that threatened to mar the polls was the decision of the then Prof. Attahiru Jega led Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to create 30, 000 new Polling Units across the country.
A noble idea, but the decision was dogged by controversies, especially allegations that more than half of the new units were to be located in the northern part of the country.
After several agitations by some partisans, as well as ethno-religiois bodies, they decided to shelve the idea.
But, about four months ago, reports emerged in the media that the commission had decided to go ahead with the plans.
From available reports, more than two-thirds of the proposed 30,000 new units were allocated to the North and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, a development that stirred concern of plots to favour a part of the country to the detriment of the other..
In dismissing that report, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said “the fact of the matter is that in response to 3,789 requests so far received nationwide for the creation of new polling units, the commission directed its Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, to thoroughly assess and provide it with information on:
“New settlements that are not served or inadequately served by existing polling units; areas with natural barriers that hinder access to existing polling units; areas that are distant from existing polling units; and areas affected by communal and other conflicts that make voting in existing polling units unsafe for voters.
“These reports are still being awaited from the states. It is these reports and the information they contain that will be collated and carefully examined by the commission in order to determine what changes may be necessary in the current polling units profile of the country.
“Therefore, the insinuation that the commission intends to create 30,000 new polling units to compromise the 2019 general elections is false, misleading, unfounded and should be disregarded.
“We assure the public that our decisions and actions shall always be guided by the provisions of the extant laws and our determination to respond to requests by Nigerians to serve them better. Even so, this will be done only after full consultation with all stakeholders.”
However, the commission has said it will not be creating new Polling units before the he real elections, but that the issue will be up for consideration after the polls.
“We are not creating additional PUs before 2019 General Elections. Recall that when we started the process sometime ago, by asking our Resident Electoral Commissioners for details of new settlements and under-served areas under their domains, some mischief makers went to town to say we wanted to favour one part of the country. We will consider the issue after the general elections”, said Oyekanmi.
From the judiciary to legislature, who is next?
There is now palpable fear within the political class in the country following the reported freezing of the accounts of the Benue and Akwa Ibom state Governments by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.
The fear stems from the continued use of the nation’s security apparatchik to clamp down on the voices of dissent in recent times.
In the early life of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, some members of the judiciary had their houses raided. The freezing of the Ekiti state Government accounts, the recent siege to the National Assembly and the freezing of the accounts of Benue and Akwa Ibom state have all added to the mix, in what appears the shape of what is to come as Nigerians look forward to the next general elections.
With the government’s attempt at defining what constitutes hate-speech and criminalizing same, there are concerns that the nation could begin to witness a clampdown on the media in the days to come. But who really is next?
The immediate past Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives APC Comrade Timi Frank, said the current administration was planning to freeze accounts of major opposition leaders ahead of the 2019 general elections to render the opposition party incapacitated.
Frank, who raised the alarm specifically listed former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Rivers state governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, Sokoto state governor Aminu Tambuwal, National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus and former governor of Kano state, Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso among others in the latest plot.
The president had only weeks ago complained that there was too much money in the hands of the opposition, hence the plot, according to Frank also includes the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who is believed to be on his way out of the APC.
Apart from the major opposition leaders, Frank alleged that some businessmen and women who are sympathetic to the opposition parties are also targets in the plot.
The Bayelsa born politician alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is doing all these against opposition leaders but not aware that he is surrounded by some people who have dipped their own hands in the pie.
He said information at his disposal revealed that the APC government is using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to raise different allegations against major opposition leaders and serving governors across the country in order to demoralise the opposition leaders and render them incapacitated financially.
According to Frank, the recent reported freezing of accounts of two PDP states (Benue and Akwa Ibom) formed part of the plot to ensure that states being controlled by the opposition parties are deprived of resources to run government and blackmail them into joining the ruling party.
He challenged the rationale behind the freezing of Akwa Ibom state accounts barely few hours after a former governor of the state joined the ruling party.
“Even though after serious pressures we gathered that EFCC had unfrozen the accounts they earlier illegally step down, we are in the know that they will soon start with private individuals but whatever game plan the ruling party might be plotting against the major opposition leaders and other private individuals, Nigerians will rise against it.”
NIM to announce Presidential Candidate by August ending
Ahead of the polls, the Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM has announced plans to adopt a credible presidential candidate for the third force movement latest by August 30.
The adoption of the candidate would be done at its forthcoming National Political Dialogue on the future of Nigeria holding in Abuja from Tuesday, 28 to Thursday 30 August 2018
According to information made available to Saturday Vanguard, no fewer than 1,000 eminent political leaders have been nominated by its Local Organising Committee.
NIM’s Head of Media Bureau, Adebowale Adeniyi said 35 presidential aspirants have already been nominated and shortlisted to show case their credentials and endowment at the historic Confab that will determine who leads the country from May 2019.
According to Adeniyi the list of presidential hopefuls shortlisted is a mix of seemingly credible old and young breed aspirants jostling for the third force movement endorsement for the 2019 elections
“Whoever is endorsed by the LOC of NIM at the all presidential aspirants Summit this month, after interacting with eminent leaders of thought and leading stakeholders in the country, shall be presented to the Nigerian public in September for national endorsement ahead of the 2019 elections “