By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA— The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has issued six queries to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, following the postponement of the general elections by the electoral umpire.
This is even as the party, yesterday, denied allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that it was pressuring INEC to stagger the general elections.
The position of the party was disclosed at a news conference addressed by its Director of Election Planning and Monitoring, Babatunde Raji Fashola, and that of Contact and Mobilization, Hadiza Bala-Usman, last night in Abuja.
Both directorates had met at the Buhari Campaign Council headquarters to fine-tune strategies in the face of the postponement of the polls by INEC.
Addressing the media, Fashola threw several posers at the electoral umpire.
He said: “As a result of the common pain shared by us all, we, the Directorate of Election Planning and Monitoring, and Contact and Mobilization on behalf of APC Campaign Council, demand greater openness and transparency in the Commission’s preparations ahead of Saturday, February 23, 2019.
“We believe that members of the public should know what steps INEC have taken with CBN to assess, take inventory of materials and brief the public about what their condition is;
“The status of INEC’s plans to procure and provide materials for election and in particular let Nigerians know if all materials required are in the country and if not what plans the commission has to ensure that they are. INEC’s plans to re-deploy and distribute materials ahead of Saturday 23, 2019.
“The specific problems INEC encountered in the failed attempt of Saturday February 16, 2019 and measures it has taken to overcome them?
“What transport logistics and further materials INEC require in terms of vehicles, boats, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, manpower and funding INEC requires to execute the elections of February 23rd and March 9th.
“Confirmation that the configuration of the card readers will be completed in readiness of Saturday 2019 23.
“In addition to all of these, we believe that INEC should brief Nigerians daily on an ongoing basis until this process is concluded. This is one way to elicit the buy-in of Nigerians that INEC is serious and this will replace disappointment with enthusiasm.”
Fashola added that APC’s “disappointment is doubled due to the fact that unlike some who were apparently privy to this postponement in advance, we found out alongside the public a few hours before the polls opened.
“To the stranded youth corpers we empathise with you. To the voters and volunteers who have travelled at great cost to cast their votes, we empathise with you. To party agents and our party faithful we empathise with you.
“Our sympathies go to all those people and we urge them not to despair. However, we Nigerians are a determined and resilient people and we will not let the shortcomings of INEC deter us from exercising our franchise.”
On allegations that the APC was coercing INEC to stagger the elections, Fashola said: “I think that is not a responsible and credible allegation to make. APC does not conduct elections. We go by the rules as set by the electoral umpire”.
On his part, Chief Press Secretary to the National Chairman of APC, Simon Egbebulem, said the ruling party would wait to punish the PDP at the polls.
“That is the height of irresponsibility and desperation on the part of the PDP to make such allegation.
‘’The entire world was at the venue where the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole expressed his disappointment very sincerely before the chairman of the INEC over the postponement of the election. President Muhammadu Buhari did the same.
‘’But we will not dissipate energy in responding to the PDP allegation because we await them at the polls. We all were in this country when under the PDP government the then President ordered the Chairman of the INEC to postpone the election.
‘’But in this case, we saw a situation where the INEC decided to postpone election on their own based on the excuses they enumerated. APC can never be like the PDP which is the root of the problems which the APC-led administration is cleaning up.”