By Popoola Wasiu
Twenty of the registered political parties in Nigeria have asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shift the upcoming Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo state, citing insecurity
Speaking at a joint press conference held on Monday in Abuja, the National Chairman of Labour Party (LP) Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam and his National Conscience Party (NCP) counterpart Dr. Yunusa Tanko, who spoke on behalf of others said they have observed that there is serious danger if INEC went ahead to conduct the election without the court cases resolved.
Abdulsalam said that as it happened in other states, there are no security meetings concerning the elections in Ondo despite the pending cases.
“Another critical concern is the growing level of violence and insecurity in the Ondo political environment precedent to the governorship election on Saturday. In recognition of this ugly fact, we also take this opportunity to call on the relevant security agencies, the Police, DSS, NSCDC and others to immediately put pressure on INEC to shift the election date to a possible date after the court processes have been completed, but within the constitutional provisions, to guarantee peaceful and healthy political environment for election,” he said.
The parties said the gravity of internal wrangling in parties especially in the PDP and APC may cause chaos thus threatening the nation’s democracy.
He said: “It is instructive that do or die politics in Ondo State is averted. Both PDP, APC and some other parties are engrossed in serious crises even though that of the APC is being managed, that of the PDP is serious and may degenerate into serious crises.
“A scenario where the governing party in the state is steeply mired in court, determining the candidacy of the party for governorship election, does not bode well for our democracy, and definitely not for the state. For INEC to live up to its billing, reputation and goodwill, it must not be railroaded into holding elections in a visibly fractious political environment that portends of crises, political shenanigans and disputations, and all vestiges of electoral malfeasance, most of which can be avoided by shifting the poll date.”
The parties said they are aware that some people who benefit from the crises situation in Ondo will vehemently oppose any consideration for shifting the election date, but that they should note that elections are considered free, fair and acceptable only when the rules are followed.
The parties said Nigeria cannot afford irate citizenry eager to explode at slightest provocation, due to the fact that they see the government as politically fraudulent.
They said the integrity of the process must be respected to earn the respect and confidence of the citizens.
They said: “The unrelenting efforts by some elements to frustrate the speedy adjudication of the cases by the Court of Appeal point to the fact that there are covert plans to drag the cases past the Election Day (26 November, 2016), thereby influencing and corrupting the election outcome and result. This is the issue and concern INEC must consider and discourage the dastardly electoral behaviour that may spread into the future elections in the country, if unchecked now.
INEC must realize that it has a symbiotic responsibility with political parties to produce elected leaders for Nigeria. It must remain steadfast and resolute to that responsibility by not allowing threats, intimidation, harassment or connivance colour its decisions and judgment. Shifting the election date to accommodate the conclusion of the relevant cases in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court will be a great service to our nation and democracy, and Ondo State in particular.”
Other parties at the meeting include ADC, ACPN, BNPP, DPC, DPP, PDC, PPN, PPA, UDP, ACD, PRP, PPP and UPP.