Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Buhari to Jonathan: Don’t harass INEC

Nuruddeen M. Abdallah
Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is putting undue pressure on the Chairman of the Independent Nationa
l Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega to change election rules midstream, Congress for Progressive Change’s (CPC) presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari charged yesterday. He also expressed worry over the “duress and undue influence that President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling PDP are exerting on the INEC chairman.”
Speaking through his spokesperson Yinka Odumakin, the CPC flagbearer said, “We had hitherto believed that the National Assembly elections that had to be aborted and postponed in the middle of voting was because of non availability of critical materials as announced by Prof. Jega. However we now have reasons to believe that covert as well as overt pressures are being exerted by President Goodluck Jonathan, the ruling PDP and their agents because of their vested interests in manipulating the outcome of the elections.”
Buhari said “if we had doubts about the widely circulated rumour that senior officers in the Legal and Operations departments of INEC deliberately engineered the delay/non availability of the critical materials as an act of sabotage to discredit Prof. Jega, such surreptitious or covert moves now pale into relative insignificance in light of the emergency meeting of the National Security Council chaired by President Jonathan with Prof. Jega and other senior officials of INEC after the postponed elections.”
The presidential candidate also demanded “a probe of the role of INEC’s Federal Commissioner for Operations, Dr. Nuru Yakubu in the event that led to the bungling of last Saturday’s elections just as we call on Prof Jega to clear the air on the rumour making the rounds that two sets of result sheets with the same serial numbers were allegedly printed by the official printer of INEC.”
Buhari’s spokesman also said that yesterday’s edition of Daily Trust “reported that Vice President Namadi Sambo, National Security Adviser to the President, Ministers of Defense and Police Affairs along with other service chiefs were also present at the meeting where accusing fingers were repeatedly pointed at the INEC chairman for the problems that led to the postponement.”
He added that the pressures were so strong that the INEC chairman succumbed and agreed not to combine the National Assembly elections with that of the presidential elections as has since been publicly announced by INEC.
The opposition leader said that like most other Nigerians, he was disappointed by the postponement of the elections midstream but strongly believes that Jega made the right call to postpone the elections rather than continuing with flawed elections.
“So, we see no reason for the president and National Security Council meeting in the first place. We also understand that there will be more surreptitious moves in the days ahead to embark on a media campaign of calumny to force Professor Jega to resign so that one of the PDP-friendly INEC commissioners can be appointed as acting chairman of INEC,” Odumakin said.
The CPC leader wanted to know “why should the National Security Council be meeting with INEC at this stage without other political parties being present? Why should the ruling party embark on duress and undue influence for the rules to be changed in the middle of the game? Why should the president and PDP’s preference for the National Assembly elections and the presidential election not to be combined be imposed on all the other major parties? Why should the president and the ruling PDP be clamouring for the involvement of the military in the conduct of the elections? Will Prof. Jega eventually succumb just as Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo of Ekiti State, who initially resisted but later bowed to pressure from the ruling PDP?”
Buhari said that it is in view of these and many more reasons that they strongly urge President Jonathan and the ruling PDP to cease and desist from any further covert and overt interference in the way and manner in which the elections are conducted by INEC; not only in the interest of free, fair and credible elections that Jonathan has promised Nigerians and the world at large but also in the interest of peace and stability of the country.

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