By Chris Ochayi, Omeiza Ajayi & Maxwell Tochukwu
ABUJA— The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has explained why it supported President Muhammadu Buhari on his decision to withhold assent, for the fourth time, to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018.
National Chairman of the party, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, stated this, yesterday, in Abuja when the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, received a joint pre-election assessment delegation of the International Republican Institute, IRI, and National Democratic Institute, NDI.
He said: “You raised the issue which the President spoke to about the hurried attempt to amend the Electoral Act. The issue is, what are the key issues in the Electoral Act? Now, you digitize the entire process. That has its benefits but it also has huge challenges.
“It now depends on the good heart of those technicians in the control room where the ICT is operated and given the level of illiteracy in the country, given the challenge of unstable power supply in the country, to digitize everything raises issues that cannot just be dismissed.
“The laws as they are empower INEC to use card readers. The Electoral Act empowers the electoral body to make subsidiary rules that have the force of law.
“A number of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors, including Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State, if you look at the results for 2015 election, they did not use this card reader. I think that is where the issue came from.
“The Supreme Court tried to show their own bias in favour of the PDP; the Supreme Court held that yes, INEC rules said use card readers but because it is not in the law, it is not necessarily binding. Our point is that, it is not right even internationally, to change rules of election on the eve of the election.”
Oshiomhole also frowned at the growing number of political parties, saying many of the parties have approached the APC asking to be paid in order for them to declare their support for the presidential candidate of the ruling party, President Buhari.
Nigeria currently has 91 registered political parties with more than half of them reportedly in a loose alliance, Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, and in support of the country’s main opposition, PDP.
While he expressed concerns about the logistic challenge that the ballooning number of parties could pose to INEC, Oshiomhole alleged that most of the political parties are a gang up of political merchants, using their platforms to trade and cause confusion in the polity.
IRI, NDI urge action against partisan security operatives
In another development, IRI and NDI have asked President Buhari to hold to account security operatives who seek to influence the 2019 general election in favour of a particular candidate or political party.
Both institutes gave the charge at a joint press conference on the outcome of their pre-election assessment mission in Nigeria.
The conference was addressed by former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs in US Department of State, Linda Thomas-Greenfield (Lead Delegate); former USAID senior official and Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland, Lewis Lucke; NDI Kenya Resident Country Director, Dickson Omondi and IRI Regional Director in Africa, John Tomaszewski.
While they said the signing of the peace accord was a necessary precondition for a free, fair and credible election, the two bodies noted that, “Political parties and their candidates must also hold party members and supporters accountable for violations.”