Opposition parties, including the All Progressives Congress, are presently perfecting strategies to resist any attempt by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Federal Government to shift the February general elections
Top on the game plan of the parties is to reach out to the international community to mount pressure on the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration not to shift the elections.
Another option the parties are exploring is to approach the courts to seek an injunction that will stop anyone from delaying the polls though INEC had said it was not contemplating a postponement of the elections slated for February 14 and 28.
Already, the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, had at a meeting with the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the APC last week, advised that the elections should hold as scheduled.
Kerry’s position was coming after the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), had last week advised INEC to postpone the elections to allow more people to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the APC confirmed that it was discussing with Western nations on the growing calls for election postponement in Nigeria.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said those pushing for the elections to be shifted were also seeking to instigate the National Youth Service Corps members who would serve as part of the ad-hoc staff for INEC during the polls to refuse to participate.
APC however vowed to resist any attempt by the ruling party to postpone the general elections.
Mohammed, who spoke in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, in Abuja on Friday said the party would leave nothing to chance.
He said, “We are aware that they have plans that by next week, they will send people to start demonstrating, asking for the postponement of the February elections.
“I can assure you that we also have our counter measures. Our major strategy is to appeal to the international community that this man (President Jonathan) must not postpone the elections.
“All the arguments that the elections be postponed because of the PVC are not correct. It is not lack of collection and if the government is sincere, it should declare two or three days’ holiday for people to go and collect their PVCs.”
Similarly, the Executive Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, called on the United Nations, European Union, African Union and ECOWAS to put pressure on Jonathan for the sake of the country’s peace and stability.
Noting that the world had become a global village, Mumuni said the idea of one man steering the internal affairs of a country was a philosophy of ancient times.
He said, “The problem I see in the postponement of the elections is the chaos that will arise from it. Remember, one of every four Africans is a Nigerian. If there is any problem in Nigeria, no one African country can contain us. That is why I believe that foreign bodies should continue to put pressure on the Nigerian government and President for him to give the assurance that the elections will go on as scheduled.
“They need to persuade him to come out and issue a public statement that these elections will not be postponed. There are various agencies under the United Nations that are concerned with these issues-democracy, civil and political rights. They should move through the UN to ensure the INEC timetable is maintained.
“There are European countries who are also interested in democracy and the stability of the Nigerian state. There are even bodies in West Africa, bodies under ECOWAS, and under the African Union that have mandates similar to what is happening now. They should speak up now so that chaos is not created in Nigeria.”
Also, the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party in Oyo State, Sunday Adelaja, has said that the postponement of the general election, as being rumoured in some quarters, will throw Nigeria backward.
Adelaja, who spoke with our correspondent in Ibadan on Saturday, said “If we have to call on the international community to ensure the election goes ahead, I see nothing wrong in that. But it should not get to that level if we actually love this country. If we want Nigeria to progress, no one should think of postponing the election.”
Similarly, the Executive Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said his organisation is ready to petition world bodies.
He said, “Anyone calling for the postponement of the election should be charged with treason.
“We will not hesitate to call on the UN, United Kingdom and ECOWAS to prevail on INEC not to delay the poll.”
Also, the Inter-Party Advisory Council, comprising all registered political parties, said the group would not take the postponement of the elections lightly.
The IPAC Chairman, Dr. Tanko Yunusa, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, said the council had not received any communication from INEC on the preparations for the elections.
But the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, in a swift reaction in Abuja debunked allegations that the Presidency and the PDP were involved in schemes to postpone the elections.
SOURCE: The Punch.