The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) hinted yesterday that it might be compelled to suspend the 2019 general election following threats to violence by some politicians in the country.
Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who stated this, was reacting to some disturbing videos of political campaigns in the social media in which some politicians are seen threatening to shed blood.
He spoke when he received briefing from the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun State on the progress and the preparedness of the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Noting that recent developments and signs in the country’s political landscape calls for greater vigilance, Yakubu asked politicians to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.
The INEC boss who observed that election can only hold when there is a secured environment said, “In fact, the electoral Act, specially section 26, empowers the commission to suspend election on account of violence or threat of violence.
“So, we will continue to partner and continue to work with the security agencies as we approach the 2019 general election. Our meetings are going to become more frequent and regular”.
Yakubu explained that the synergy between the electoral body and security agencies is crucial for the 2019 polls in order to secure the environment for the conduct of the elections.
Insisting that there is no way election can be conducted except the nation maintains order, peace and progress, he continued: “Elections cannot be conducted in an atmosphere of rancor. So, we share this great responsibility with the security agencies. Good election is good for this country. Bad election is a recipe for disaster; we don’t pray for it.
“So, let us continue to work together to anticipate the challenges and address the challenges because we have the capacity to do so. The nation expects we should do so and once we do so, there will be fewer problems during elections”.
On the viral video in the social media containing a political campaign that tended to have defiled decent process, Yakubu said it calls for greater vigilance.
He stated: “We see statements by some of the political actors captured and circulated nationwide via social media platforms. It is something that the security agencies need to put an eye on because if we allow this to pester, it will encourage those who may wish to do some destructive actions or feel encouraged to do so.
“But if we take immediate action, I think we may be able to stop them and further secure the environment for us to conduct free, fair and credible elections”.
Yakubu further noted that between now and March 2, 2018, the most important activities in Nigeria will be the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections, adding that the most important issue for the commission now is the Osun State governorship election, which is billed to hold in the next 11 days.
NSA Warns Security Agents Against Complicity
On his part, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Mohammed Babagana Monguno (rtd), yesterday warned security operatives against any form of compromise in the 2019 general elections, saying acts of complicity will be decisively dealt with.
The NSA who noted that the forthcoming elections, especially the 2019 general election, must be conducted in a manner that the wider Nigerian society will be happy said the international community should be able to perceive the country in a very positive manner.
Speaking at the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security held at the INEC headquarters, Monguno said the 2019 general election will witness full enforcement of electoral laws.
He disclosed that security agencies are working with INEC and relevant stakeholders to arrest and prosecute vote buyers and those who engage in ‘dangerous’ political campaigns.
The NSA stated: “Anybody involved in complicity in any situation will of course have to bear the consequences on his own. It is very important for you to pass this message down the line to all your operatives.
“Any collaboration or complicity by any of your staff will be viewed with all seriousness it deserves. I need to stress on the need for us to deliver on our mandate in a very responsible manner, demonstrating our democratic values and professional ethics.
“In terms of capacity building, it is our intention to continue to build on whatever we have to receive from our formations and understand that there would be election security seminar which has been slated for 11 of Oct.
“The idea is for us to streamline all areas that need to be looked at and begin a training session for all security operatives who will provide security during the elections. Of course, there are code of conduct for the conduct of all security agencies and we will all be held responsible for any infraction during elections”.
The NSA told the representatives of various security services that it is also important for security personnel to understand that operating outside the confines of the law will be viewed very seriously.
He continued: “The forthcoming elections, especially 2019 general elections, have to be conducted in such a manner that not only the wider Nigerians society but indeed the international community should be able to perceive us in a very positive manner.
“Excuses of course will not be tolerated. It is a truth that we are all trained personnel. Already we have started witnessing a different type of atmosphere regarding preparations for elections, in terms of utterances of individuals, which are not healthy for elections and could incite the public”.
Monguno who said he is in talking with his co-chairman (INEC Chairman) and consulting with leadership of various security agencies to apprehend those violating the electoral act, added that the dangerous style of political campaigns won’t be allowed to reach an uncontrollable point.
“Therefore, it is extremely important that long before the 2019 elections, we must be able to find a way of surmounting this dangerous trend,” he said.
“There will be issue of vote buying and vote selling. These are concerns that we have to look into collectively and begin to deal with whatever problems that might arise from these unfavourable acts,” Monguno added.
Presidency Faults NASS On Election Budget
Meanwhile, the presidency said yesterday that the National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has no final say on source of funds for 2019 general elections.
The senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, made this known at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, yesterday.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC had on August 30 recommended that INEC’s N143 billion for the elections should be funded from Service Wide Votes under the Special Intervention Programme (Recurrent), rather than from allocations for constituency projects controversially inserted into the budget by the lawmakers.
Chairman of the committee, Sen. Suleiman Nazif, had said that the recommendation was to ease the consideration and avoid increasing the size of the 2018 Expenditure Framework.
But Enang said that the lawmakers’ recommendation could not be final, as the whole process would have to be approved by all the lawmakers at plenary.
He stated: “The call is inquorate because it can only be complete if it is presented to the plenary. When the committee was considering it, I asked if there is the budget of the Office of the National Security Adviser, DSS, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service and others; is your committee going to consider these budgets? They said no, that those other ones will be considered by other committees.
“If they are not considering the budgets of other agencies, the question of where to source the money has not even arisen.
“Until each of the other committees considers the budget of these other agencies and recommend them to the House and the House sits to consider them, only then will the question or otherwise arise”.
The presidential aide noted that the National Assembly acted in error to have asked the joint committee to sit when the source of funding for the general budget for the election had not been determined.
APC Presidential Aspirants Kick As PMB Picks Form
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday received his expression of interest and nomination forms to contest the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A group known as Nigerian Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN) had last week purchased the forms for the president at the APC national headquarters.
But some presidential aspirants of the party under the aegis of Coalition of 2019 APC Aspirants have asked president Buhari to reject the N45 million nomination forms purchased for him by the group.
In a statement released and signed by Dr SKC Ogbonnia, Chief Charles Udeogaranya and Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, on behalf of others, the aspirants said, “We demand that President Muhammadu Buhari should reject the N45 million nomination forms purchased for him by a group for the following reasons: it fundamentally contravenes Section 91(9) of the Electoral Act.
“The offer runs contrary to Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade; and though some aspirants can afford the exorbitant cost of the forms, such amount is clearly not affordable to many others, including President Buhari and particularly the youths and women of our great party, APC. We demand that the APC should, without further delay, scrap nomination fees, in line with the laws of land.
“Failure to adhere to the aforementioned demands will give us no other option than to lead the true APC in conducting the primaries in line with extant electoral laws and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, speaking after receiving the forms at the presidential villa, President Buhari described those who recently defected from the ruling APC to the Peoples Democratic Party as weak and selfish.
Senate President Bukola Saraki and the governors of Sokoto, Benue and Kwara States, as well as some Senators had recently defected from the APC to PDP.
President Buhari who expressed gratitude for being honoured by the youth groups drawn from different parts of the country said that his vision to rescue the nation began in 2002.
He added that the country reached a hopeless state in 2006, hence his decision to contest for the presidential election in 2007.
The president said his decision was predicated on the state of hopelessness in the country where selfish interest of elected leaders superseded national interest, pointing out that the 2007 election in the country was a colossal disgrace
He stated: “Today, I am pleased to say the weakest ones amongst us, whose selfish expectations did not align with our selfless vision, have exited our party. We now have a party of strong and patriotic individuals who are ready, willing and able to continue on this journey of building a strong, secure, self-sufficient and corruption free Nigeria.
“I am honoured today to receive this nomination form which your members, from all over the country, contributed to buy. It is a gesture from an association of patriotic Nigerians, which I was made to believe, comprises over three million members that believe in our principle of bringing the desired positive CHANGE in Nigeria”.
Buhari disclosed that since his protest at the APC secretariat a few weeks back on the very expensive cost of the presidential nomination form, he had received many offers from different associations and organisations whose members were ready to pull their resources to buy him the form.
Stating that the 12 million members of the Rice Farmers Association offered to buy him a form, Buhari said the members of the Fertiliser Producers Association also contacted his office with the same offer.
He added that some members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association also offered to buy the nomination form.
The president noted: “I am very touched by these gestures. And I want to assure you all that my commitment to our CHANGE agenda is as strong as ever. As I accept this nomination form from NCAN today, I want to ask all the other groups who have offered to buy my nomination form to redirect their contributions to the Not Too Young To Run wing of the APC.
“Nigeria is blessed with many talented and visionary youths who have a lot to contribute. Many of them may not be able to afford the nomination fees set by our party. Your contributions will go a long way in supporting the next generation of leaders.
“I therefore would request that remaining funds raised to buy my presidential nomination form be used to support these young, competent and dynamic future leaders. Once again, I thank you very much for this donation as I pray to God to give us all the strength and wisdom to continue to deliver our promises”.
The president listed his achievements since assumption of office to include completion of rail projects and new ones under construction, government support to farmers, as well as the rehabilittion of fertilizer plants and introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
He said the TSA has helped the administration to tackle the menace of stealing in public service as well as provision of jobs and cash for the most vulnerable Nigerians.
Earlier in his opening remarks, deputy chairman of Board of Trustees (BoT) NCAN, Chuckwuemeka Nwajiuba, said the members of the group who facilitated the purchase of the expression of interest form for the president where made up of three million Nigerians after a triple A assessment of the performance of President Buhari.
He stated that the group was convinced to purchase the form on the basis of President Buhari’s commitments in the fight against graft, terrorism and the effort to revive the economy.
Speaking to State House correpondents after, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the expression of interest and nomination forms presented to President Buhari were purchased by a large number of people who made contributions.
Amaechi said that the gesture showed that the APC was ready for the 2019 election.
He said, “This is a group of persons; some people paid less than N1 million; some paid N50,000. It is a group of hundreds of thousands of people that came together to buy form for the president. I do not see any law we have broken by that.
“Not one person bought the form for Mr President; not one person brought the money; not two persons; not three. What we saw from their database is hundreds of thousands of persons that raised the money.
“You can see the huge delegation that came; it is an indication that we are prepared for the election. The president has put the first step forward to show that he wants to run for the second time for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’’.
On his part, APC’s National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, said that even in advanced democracies, once the National Executive Committee (NEC) of a party passes a vote of confidence on the president, nobody would contest with him.
According to Buni, NEC is the highest organ of the party to take decisions where every interest is represented.
“So, NEC of APC has passed vote of confidence on Mr President. That means every APC member endorsed Mr President. It is a democracy; we are not saying nobody should come out and contest but the president has right of first refusal,’’ he said.
On his part, chairman, Board of Trustees (NCAN), Farouk Aliyu said that the forms were purchased with contributions from across the country.
He said the NCAN was excited that Buhari accepted the forms, adding that members of the group would go back to their localities and work towards the re-election of Buhari in the 2019 presidential polls.
“What motivated the young Nigerians to buy the forms is their belief that whatever the president is doing is for the future of the younger ones,’’ he said.
PDP Govs, Presidential Aspirants Fail To Agree On Consensus
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors and presidential aspirants on the party’s platform failed to agree on the idea of consensus candidate, it was gathered yesterday night.
The governors had after their meeting on Sunday in Abuja, resolved to have an all-inclusive meeting with all the presidential aspirants, the national chairman, Uche Secondus, two national officers, and the leaders of the party in both chambers of the National Assembly.
Top on the agenda for the meeting was the issue of consensus presidential candidate so as to avert friction.
A source at the meeting yesterday, said the governors resolved that the aspirants should go for primaries, following their failure to arrive at an agreement on consensus.
The source said “since the aspirants did not agree on a consensus, the meeting resolved that they should go for the primaries”.
However, the governors, it was learnt, agreed to hold the party’s national convention which will produce it’s presidential candidate, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
APC Gives Conditions For Emergence OF Consensus Candidate
Meanwhile, the governing APC has reacted to developments in some state chapters of the party which have already begun the announcement of consensus candidates for elective positions in their respective domains.
The APC stated that having a consensus candidate did not foreclose the process of direct or indirect primaries in places where there are people willing to vie for elective positions, insisting that due process must the followed.
In a terse press statement, the acting national publicity secretary of APC, Yekini Nabena, noted that, “while consensus is provided for by the party’s constitution, the option is conditional”.
According to him, the option can only apply where no other aspirant has signified interest by obtaining nomination forms for the particular position.
The statement reads in part: “Consensus does not foreclose direct or indirect primaries for all elective positions as contained in the resolution of the 6th meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
“Again, consensus will apply when no other aspirant signify interest (i.e. through purchase of nomination forms) for the position in question.”