From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to walk his talk as far as the organization of free and fair elections in the country is concerned, saying all the assurances so far given by him have not translated into credible elections.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party urged the President to go beyond mere rhetorics and take concrete actions to ensure that the
elections in the country are not marred by the intimidation and harassment of opposition party members and supporters as well as the deliberate disenfranchisement of voters, which hallmarked the Anambra and Ekiti gubernatorial elections, among others.
‘’On the same day the President’s latest assurances of a free, fair, credible and transparent elections in 2015 were being reported, agents of the Jonathan-led federal government were ransacking the offices of a company hired to carry out an opinion poll for Osun State ahead of the 9 Aug. gubernatorial election.
‘’If the opposition can no longer freely carry out opinion polls, if the companies hired to carry out such polls are harassed and intimidated by SSS officials as they did to tnsrms, the offices of which were searched for six hours, after which top officials of the firm were dragged to the SSS offices in Shangisha and computers carted away, then how can any President convince anyone that free and fair elections can be held under his watch?
‘’If the Ngozi Okonjo Iweala-linked NOI polling firm has never been harassed for its choreographed opinion polls that favour the Jonathan Administration, why should other firms be subjected to the kind of Gestapo- tactics that tnsrms was exposed to? This is why we are asking President Jonathan to walk to talk,’’ APC said.
The party said that already, the foundation was being laid to rig next month’s governorship election in Osun at source, as INEC has been frustrating attempts by APC members to obtain their Permanent Voters Cards, even as the PDP has continued to boast that it will again use the military to illegally shut down the state and bully the opposition in Osun, just like it did in Ekiti.
It also wondered whether INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, properly weighed the statement he made, in which he tried to justify the deployment of troops to Ekiti for the state’s gubernatorial election on the basis that they helped to ensure a violence-free election.
‘’Jega should be asked to explain why is it that the troops who were sent to provide security for the Ekiti election were harassing and intimidating only the opposition? Why is it that they were arresting only opposition members? Is that also part of providing security for an election? If soldiers had only provided non-intrusive security for the election, perhaps no one would have complained. But where they turned themselves into the enforcement arm of the ruling party, everyone, including INEC, should be concerned,’’ APC said.
The party called on President Jonathan to refrain from deploying the military for election purposes and read the riot act to his cabinet members, like Musiliu Obanikoro and Abduljelili Adesiyna, and party officials who specialize in electoral malfeasance, and elections will start becoming free, fair, credible and transparent to such an extent that the world will notice.
‘’Saying one thing and doing the opposite, Mr. President, will not translate to credible elections. The world is watching,’’ it said.
As a starting point, APC urged the President, if indeed he is committed to free and fair elections, to launch an inquiry into why the offices of the firm carrying out an opinion poll for Osun state
were invaded, and to tell Nigerians whether the firm would have been harassed if it had been hired by the PDP or its candidate for the Aug. 9th election.