There Should Be Zero Tolerance For Tampering With Elections – Chukwuani
Prince Chudi Chukwuani is the national chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP). In this interview with CHIBUZO UKAIBE, he speaks about the debate over election sequence and the state of security across the country.
The debate over the National Assembly’s attempt to alter the election sequence has been raging. What is your party’s position to the issue? Do you think the uproar is worth it?
My party’s position is that we agree with the President’s veto and INEC’s opposition on the basis that changing the sequence now will greatly disturb and possibly terminate the upcoming general elections. It is clear that there are evil forces working with our National Assembly to instigate the disintegration of Nigeria. Certainly the uproar is not worth it. There are so many issues begging for urgent attention such as creating massive employment opportunities for our graduates and fighting corruption and recovery of the monies stolen from public treasury.
You just made a weighty allegation of instigations to disintegrate the country. Could you elaborate on it?
The question that should worry all of us is how can a group of people that swore an oath to protect, preserve and defend the indivisibility and unity of Nigeria, be the ones agitating for restructuring and possible breakup of the country? There’s no provision in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for restructuring or division of Nigeria along regional lines, so why are they toying with the idea? That constitution gave them power and without it they are nothing and cannot be drawing N13 million monthly allowance to the detriment of the rest of the citizenry so why are they not defending the constitution?
The APC is the party in majority in the National Assembly yet we are having this situation. Some have said it is good for democracy such that it projects a vibrant legislature. Others however say the issue is too distracting for effective governance and also projects a party leadership in disarray. What’s your impression?
There are forces within the National Assembly who were part and parcel of the previous government who looted the country dry and who are out to pull the government of President Buhari down. If President Buhari should wake up tomorrow and make an announcement that he is no longer fighting corruption and recovering the looted monies all this bickering will come to an immediate end. We have very senior leadership members of the National Assembly that are facing serious charges of corruption and now you see why corruption is fighting back tooth and nail but in the end good shall prevail for the good of the country. It is not distracting, at least now the public knows who the enemies of state are.
The spate of killings by herdsmen appears to be increasing rather than decreasing. Do you agree with those who think this administration has become overwhelmed by the security situation?
No I do not agree. The security forces are doing their best within the limited resources available to them. What we have in our hands is that political opponents of the ruling party are sometimes sponsoring some of these acts for political gains. Clearly the state governors who claim to be the chief security officers of their states have failed in their responsibility of maintaining law and order in their states. We demand that the governors immediately return their over N500 million they collect as security vote monthly. These sums of money should be turned over to our security forces for use in securing the state and maintaining law and order. Enough of the looting of public treasury in the name of security vote.
There have been lots of narratives as to the war against Boko Haram, culminating in the declarations that that terror group has been defeated. But they were able to pull off a brazen repeat of the 2014 Chibok girls Kidnap in Dapchi. Does government’s pronouncement that Boko Haram has been defeated allign with the current realities?
The declaration made by the government is in order as the terrorist group is no longer in control of any territory in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What we are dealing with now is a gorilla warfare partly being sponsored by enemies within. In the shortest possible time the security forces will arrest the situation. Mr. President’s recent visit to Dapchi is a clear pointer that the government will deal with the situation. Mind you this is a stark contrast to what is obtained during the last administration when Mr Jonathan never visited Chibok!
You had openly called for the weeding out of opposition elements in this administration. Have you seen any move in that direction?
Certainly yes there have been some movement in that regard and Mr President is fully in control of the situation.
Can you mention some names of those weeded out so far?
Some of them are already in the public domain some are being recalled while there are serious petitions on corruption pending against some and some are to be extradited to foreign countries so they are in the public space. In an earlier interview you said your party is open to forming an alliance with any political party that shares same ideology as yours. Is your party part of the Obasanjo-led coalition? Absolutely not. Our party is not part of a non registered political association or movement. The movement in the words of the convener is just a pressure group without any political inclination so it remains so.
What impact do you think the coalition can make ahead of 2019 general election?
I believe that before the election new alliances will emerge and peace and stability will be restored.
What is your impression of INEC’s preparedness ahead of 2019, considering the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) and issuance of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC)?
It has been shrouded in secrecy. INEC should inform the public where they can go to obtain their voters card!
What’s your impression of the electoral commission’s investigation on the contentious underage registration and the cleanup of the voters register?
I believe it is high time that officers of INEC should be held to account. Underage voting and manipulation of the voters register cannot take place without the active participation of the INEC officials in charge? We should call a spade a spade. There’s nothing to investigate here, once a crime is detected, those in charge must be punished by dismissal and sent to prison. We should have zero tolerance for tampering with our electoral systems. All those INEC officials in charge of the areas where there is underage voting and manipulation of voters register must immediately be publicly exposed and sacked. If INEC fails to do this then the entire leadership of INEC must be relieved of their appointments immediately. We must protect our democracy and country at all cost.
Do you support simultaneous accreditation and voting in the 2019 general elections as we have seen in some smaller elections?
If INEC can handle it I am all for it. But what we don’t want is chaos and confusion at the polling stations. Lots of registered political parties will be participating in 2019, how do you think the commission will deal with the logistics involved? They registered them so they should be in a better position to know how to deal with the logistics. You cannot go about registering what you cannot handle, so it is no excuse.