After a long silence, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, declared his intention to take another shot at the Presidency in the 2019 general elections. President Buhari disclosed this at the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The declaration came as the party’s NEC unanimously agreed on waivers for the John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee and other APC executives at all levels, to re-contest their positions if they so wished at congresses and convention.
Buhari’s decision goes contrary to the advice of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and former Military President Ibrahim Babangida and others, who advised him against seeking re-election. While Obasanjo hinged his position on the administration’s ‘failure’ to meet the people’s expectations, Babangida said the younger ones should take over the nation’s leadership in 2019. Announcing the president’s second term bid, Plateau state Governor, Simon Lalong, told journalists shortly after the closed- door meeting, that President Buhari made the declaration while addressing the party´s NEC members.
He said: “Everybody´s interest was considered in the report and it was a unanimous vote and adoption of the recommendations that were made. The president felt so happy and excited because of this unity in the party, he will now consider and also accept the appeal by several members of the society, party and everybody that he will recontest the 2019 elections. “He has accepted that he is going to contest again the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
President clarifi es on tenure elongation Earlier in his remarks on the Lalong-led committee, President Buhari told the meeting that his position regarding the issue of tenure elongation was “to ensure that the party toes the path of unity, legality, cohesion and not that of division.” “Therefore, I am stressing that we strengthen our internal democracy by organising party congresses and convention where election of national executive committee members will be held.
This will automatically end the cases fi led by members seeking orders of court compelling the party to hold its congresses. “I also believe that the current executives should be free to run for elective positions in the party if they so wish and permitted by our party constitution. “However, considering the provision of Article 30 Section 1 and sub-section 3 of our party constitution which requires any serving officer desirous of seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before the election, I am not sure of the practicality of the present serving officers’ ability to meet this condition.
“Accordingly, the party may consider granting waivers to party executives at all levels so that they are not disenfranchised in participating in the elections provided this does not violate our rights or our rules. “Necessary waivers should also be extended to executives at the ward level whose tenures may have elapsed, and indeed to anyone knocking on our doors from other parties.
“This gives credence to the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. In this circumstance, the party should issue a statement on the above waivers so that our house may be full. We all must not be ignorant of the times and the journey that is ahead of us. “Just like our party symbols, the broom, we stand by strength in unity. Let us try to be united in party; victory is sure by the grace of God. And together, we must continue to sanitise Nigeria’s political environment.”
Declaration won’t affect governance- Shettima In his reaction, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state assured that Buhari’s declaration to seek re-election would not affect governance process in the country. Fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Shettima said the president has done the right thing by declaring to run for the 2019 elections.
He said the APC governors were behind the president on the 2019 project, stressing that “he is the single kinetic president in Nigeria’s political life till date.” “We are fully in support of his decision and its part of democratic culture. Traditionally, the president has the right of first refusal of the candidature of their party, so it’s not something that is unusual or unwarranted or unconstitutional. He has done the right thing, he is going to contest and we are solidly behind him.” On whether the president consulted with the APC governors before making open his intention to seek reelection, Shettima said, “he is not under any obligation to consult governors or anybody.
He has been under tremendous pressure to make that pronouncement, so, we should heave a sigh of relief since he has finally announced his intention to contest. We will give him the kind of support we gave him in 2015.” Asked whether the early declaration will not bring governance to a halt as all energy will be geared towards re-election, he said, “certainly, it is not distracting government, it will even calm down governance.
So, that people will concentrate on the real act of governance and deliver the dividends of democracy.”
Oyegun laments In his welcome address, APC National Chairman, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, lamented the many insinuations that greeted the tenure elongation controversy vis-a-vis media attacks caused him. He said, responsibility imposed on him by his position demanded that he rose above personal gains. “I will like to urge everyone else to remember that regardless of our ambitions and personal interests, the party is greater than all of us.” Odigie-Oyegun said: “I must say that disagreements, debates and contentions are the hallmarks of progressive politics.
Therefore, let no one tell you that our party was about to collapse only because we disagreed. “In the past days, I have read news reports and all manner of comments and opinions that have tried to frame the majority decision of NEC as an attempt to primarily secure tenure elongation for Odigie-Oyegun and the NWC. “This is quite unfortunate because nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, what our experience in the last few days has confirmed is that we can disagree without being disagreeable, and that our party may be young, but we remain the bastion of progressive politics in Nigeria.” He commended Buhari for what he described as “his rare act of graciousness and humility.”
According to him, even after opposing the tenure extension as approved by the party´s NEC, Buhari allowed further consideration on the subject “which proved him to be a true democrat and a genuine party man.” According to the national chairman, where the president would have imposed his will, he exhibited true leadership by allowing himself to be open to alternative opinions, regardless of his personal interest. He added that the party´s strength would continue to rest on its ability to forge consensus even from apparently irreconcilable issues. Odigie-Oyegun charged members of the party to be ready to accept alternative viewpoints as president had done, even when such viewpoints did not immediately refl ect their preferences.
Kogi, Niger support bid The declaration has received a boost with Kogi state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, pledging his people’s support for Buhari’s second term bid. In a statement by his Director-General of Media and Publicity, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, Bello, a die-hard Buharist, said he didn’t agree less.
“I am a staunch supporter of Mr. President and I am proud to be associated with such a great leader and personality.” He recalled that Kogi people were the first to call on Buhari to seek re-election at rallies organised in Anyigba, Kabba, Isanlu, Olamaboro and Okene which attracted thousands of party supporters. “We thank Mr. President for listening to the voices of Nigerians who are satisfied with his performance. Kogi people were the first to organise rallies in different towns and cities to call on Mr President to seek re-election.
“As the leader of the state, I wish to assure Mr. President that my people are solidly behind his policies of economic recovery, security and the fight against corruption. Kogi will deliver to Mr President, more votes than the state gave in 2015,” he assured. Similarly, his Niger state counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello, lauded the president’s decision has rekindled the hope of Nigerians that the restoration agenda, the war against corruption and enthronement of good governance for the country will succeed.
“It was so heart-warming when Mr. President today told members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our great party of his intention to seek for reelection.
This is the brightest moment for our country; a moment that has rekindled the hope of our people, a moment that has reaffirmed that all the good works, the good initiatives of Mr. President that saw us out of economic recession the country was plunged into by mismanagement of past administration, will now be sustained to take us to the desired enviable position among the comity of nations,” the governor said.
Balarabe, Makarfi , others react In a related development, some Nigerians have welcomed the president’s decision, describing it as good. However, some members of the opposition political parties said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Sokoto and Kaduna that the President won’ t find it easy going for second term.
APC Publicity Secretary in Sokoto state, Alhaji Sidi Ali, said, “Buhari has all it takes to re-contest and the decision is a welcome development. “He is governing well and has the capacity to continue with the good work, and I am sure more good transformations will happen in the country, if he is re-elected.” Malam Kasimu Chiyama, Chairman Dadin Kowa Youth Association in Kwannawa, Sokoto state expressed joy over the announcement. “We will support him fully because he is the only candidate that has been good to Nigerians.” Two Sokoto residents, Hajiya Hauwa’u Magode and Abdullahi Maiyogot expressed excitement over President Buhari’s position and prayed Allah to continue to guide him. However, Mr. Samson Samuel, a student, faulted the decision, saying the President should consider his age and health status. “The APC will surely make a mistake by nominating Buhari to re-contest.
Buhari is a good leader, but in recognition of his age and health status, he should have rested, as he had spent most time during this tenure on medical treatment abroad.” Also, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former Governor of Kaduna state, welcomed the declaration. Musa, a chieftain of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), said in a telephone interview that his party would, however, come up with a strong candidate to challenge Buhari in the elections.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is welcome on board, but we want to assure Nigerians that the PRP has a presidential candidate to field in the 2019 general elections,” he said Similarly, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi , former National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the People Democratic Party (PDP), said in a text message that, “it’s no news that he is contesting, it would have been news if he had announced the opposite.
” Also, the Sokoto state Secretary of the People Democratic Party, Alhaji Kabiru Aliyu, said Nigerians should vote out the APC or prepare for “another four years of hunger.” “Buhari’s age and health condition are all in Allah’s hand, but what is more of concern is good governance and ability to transform the country better. “Nigerians should vote PDP to avoid continuous hunger and maladministration that subject people to hardships,” Aliyu said.
CNPP faults decision Also in a reaction, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), has said President Buhari has nothing to show Nigerians to make him think of seeking re-election. In a statement signed by its Secretary General, Willy Ezugwu, the CNPP said Nigeria should be thinking of electing a patriotic politician who understands economic dynamics and inclusive governance. “It is disappointing that the President will choose to declare for a second term at a time when the security of lives and property of Nigerians cannot be guaranteed.
The President’s declaration of intention to run at this time is the height of insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians who are suffering under his administration as he has nothing concrete in terms of achievement to show Nigerians. “Today, we can count businesses that have either collapsed or are operating under the worst economic condition in history of our dear country, with no single high profile conviction in his so-called anti-corruption war in three years.
“His anti-corruption campaign has obviously be turned into a blackmailing tool aimed at painting one political party black, while anyone accused of corruption that joins the All Progressives Congress (APC) automatically becomes a saint and must be protected to enjoy his loot. That is not war against corruption,” the statement said.
Ignore IBB, OBJ –Media group Similarly, the North Central Media Support Group for Buhari, has described the declaration as apt and timely. In a statement in Jos, Plateau state, yesterday, it noted that “President Muhammadu Buhari’s, declaration of intent to re-contest in the 2019, election was a clear manifestation that he stands with the best wishes of majority of Nigerians that have been clamouring for that.”
They lauded the decision for coming at a time “some non patriotic elements who see themselves as political game makers or gladiators, were wailing against Buhari’s 2019 bid.” It said: “The President’s acceptance is yet another good moments for all Nigerians and is also an indication of his continued fight against corruption, improvement of security and infrastructure.”
Voters paid N5,000 each in Ondo, Anambra polls – INEC
By Emeka Nze Abuja The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said security agencies would be on the lookout for acts of vote-buying during the upcoming Ekiti state governorship election slated for July 14, this year. The commission also noted that such malpractices were prevalent at the governorship polls held at various times in Edo, Ondo and Anambra states, respectively. INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, and Oyo states, Solomon Soyebi, who was representing the Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, at a stakeholders’ meeting on the continuous voter registration, in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, said the Commission was aware that money was used to infl uence voters during the Ondo and Anambra elections. The electoral body said it was aware of how people were offered N5, 000 each to cast their votes in those states, saying such won’t reoccur in Ekiti “through strong synergy with the security agencies.”
“The elections in Edo, Ondo and Anambra states were largely monetised. We are aware of this. It was ‘see and buy,’ but it won’t happen in Ekiti,” he said. He said INEC had conducted a total of 286 polls since 2015 and that only 28 were nullified due largely to parties’ poor internal democracy. “It was N5, 000 per vote in Ondo and Anambra states. We are working with security agencies not to allow it to happen again. We even seized some cash in Anambra state,” he said.
“In Ekiti election, we won’t allow any vehicle to come near the polling units, because the politicians used to keep the money in the booth. With this, it will reduce because politicians can’t carry large amount in their pockets.” Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Abdullahi Chafe, said the police had mapped out strategies to stop electoral malfeasance. Also, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Abdulganiy Raji, said over 218,000 PVCs were yet to be claimed. Deputy Governor of Ekiti state, Kolapo Olusola, said the people in Ekiti were peaceloving. “All we want from INEC is neutrality, so that Ekiti can be at peace before, during and after this election.” The traditional rulers in Ekiti state who attended the meeting, charged INEC to avoid the manipulation of the coming governorship election. The Alare of Are Ekiti, Boluwade Adeniyi, in his comments, said, “INEC boss, we are aware of smart card reader that will be used for this election. Our appeal is that ‘do not outsmart the smart card reader, so that we can have a peaceful poll.”
The Attah of Ayede, Mumini Orisagbemi, also had a warning. “INEC is like a referee in a football match. We have never heard of a referee trying to score a goal in a match. If INEC as a referee wants to score a goal in Ekiti, our people won’t allow that.”
‘…Technology has come to stay’ Meanwhile, INEC has said the deployment of technology has become an indispensable factor in the conduct of elections in the country. The commission’s Chairman, Professor Yakubu, stated this yesterday at a conference on the use of technology in elections in the West and Southern African countries in Abuja. Yakubu said the deployment of technology has empowered citizens more than ever before, to organise, mobilise and protect their mandates through the use of various social media platforms. Although he acknowledged that there were some challenges associated with the use of technology, the INEC chairman said the benefits far outweighed the disadvantages.
“Given the deficit of infrastructure and expertise in many countries in our subregions and the regularity with which elections are conducted, concerns have been raise about cost, choice and effectiveness of technology. “Furthermore, given the high stakes involved in conducting elections in developing countries, electoral commissions must understandably be worried about the twin issues of communication and security, especially in situations where data reside with, and is indirectly transmitted to the tallying centres through off shore vendors, rather than exclusively controlled within national boundaries by the election management bodies. “In addition, we have to contend with the disturbing but rapidly incidence of election meddling through the deployment of countertechnology on a global scale by state and non-state actors.”
He, however, noted that the coming together of election managers and experts from West and Southern African countries to share experience would enable them to come out with appropriate and costeffective technology, capable of increasing public confidence in the electoral process and further protecting the sanctity and integrity of the ballot. Also speaking, President, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Ms. Monica Frassoni, noted that the introduction of technology in the electoral and democratic process added were associated with some pros and cons. “The perception of an impartial and competent electoral management body is a precondition for technology to be perceived as an aid to the perfection of the electoral process,” she said. She told the conference that the use technology and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in elections had been seen “both as a facilitator and a spoiler to the process.
” According to her, “all too often, in Africa, Europe and the Americas, we hear about how ICTs has been used to influence the election results.” Representative of the Economic Community of West African States, Francis Oke, in a remark, advised that the deployment of technology in elections should be scrutinised, but called for confidencebuilding. Oke, who noted that elections create tension in Africa, disclosed that “this problem led to the formation of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC) to assist in information sharing by EMBs in the sub-region.”