Opposition Parties Kicks Against Jega’s Removal

Opposition Parties Kicks Against Jega’s Removal

Political parties under the auspices of Coalition of Progressive Political Parties, COPPP, have warned the Federal Government not to tamper with the composition of the current leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, ahead of the general elections.

Insinuations have been rife that those within the government are not comfortable with the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, for his alleged noncompromising posture.

The parties also decried INEC’s postponement of the general elections by six weeks, stating that it would lead to incurring more campaign cost.

Briefing journalists in Abuja on the postponement of the elections, the progressive parties stated that the shift in election dates would benefit the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the more.

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, Alhaji Bashir Ibrahim, who read a speech on behalf of the political parties, said that changing the leadership of INEC would be an indication of attempt to undermine the outcome of the election.

He said: “The composition of the current INEC leadership must not be undermined or tampered with as this will constitute a deliberate attempt to undermine the election itself and influence its outcome.”

The parties also called on the Federal Government to declare two days as work-free for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs.

According to him, if government considers it worthwhile to postpone the elections, it should also consider it worthwhile to declare work free days for the collection of the PVCs. On the financial implication of the postponement of the elections on the political parties, Ibrahim said: “Once this rescheduling was announced, our candidates that have been running for elections became exasperated and were calling us that they were discouraged. “Let me give you a graphical example of what has happened.

What has happened is like a set of brothers, starting from the same point and getting to the end of a race to breast the tape for the winner to actually emerge.

“At the last three steps, the tape was removed further for about 1/3 of the distance and, therefore, the actual winner loses momentum and this gives incentives to the loser to catch up.

“This is what has happened, which is very unfair. If you had set a target where this race was to stop, you should not move it when the runners were about to get there.

“So, now this has made the contestants to carry another cost, which they have not actually budgeted for, it is only people in government that are running for election that would benefit from this postponement because they are actually using public funds to run for the election.

“This is quite unfair and the election is supposed to be free and fair and the fairness and freeness have been removed from it. We are unhappy with the action.”

On the need for Federal Government to declare work free days for the collection of PVCs, he said: “If the government could declare work free day for the collection of the PVCs that would be a good move.

“If the situation is so serious that we have to reschedule our elections, l don’t know why government has not thought it fit to actually declare a day or two for all eligible voters to go out and collect their PVCs.

“We, the coalition, are now calling on the Federal Government and the state governments to please declare at least two work free days to allow every eligible voter to go and collect their PVCs.

“These work free days should be contagious with weekend, that is, either a Thursday and Friday or Monday and Tuesday so that we can have from Thursday till Sunday or From Saturday till Tuesday at a stretch for all eligible voters to collect their PVCs.” Twelve political parties signed the statement of the press briefing.

They include PDM, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; Kowa Party, Social Democratic Party, SDP; Hope Democratic Party, HDP; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP; United Peoples Party, UPP and Accord Party.

Others are Independent Democrats, UPN, MPPP and ADC. The statement read in part: “The Coalition of Progressive Political Parties is deeply disappointed by the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to postpone Nigeria’s general election, scheduled to commence of February 14, 2015.

“The postponement came in spite of the reaction of Nigerians rejecting the idea when it was first mooted in the UK by the National Security Adviser to the President, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), about three weeks ago.

“With the elections now postponed, the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties wishes to state as follows: INEC, the NSA, the security forces and the President and Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces have a responsibility to ensure the general elections hold on the rescheduled dates and must ensure that the new dates are not rescheduled again, under any circumstance.

“Similarly, the May 29, 2015 handover date is non-negotiable and must remain sacrosanct as any attempt to tamper with it will amount to truncating our democracy and putting the peace, unity and political stability of our nation at risk.

“We call on all Nigerians to accept the new election dates in good faith in spite of the provocation and the unease which the rescheduling has caused.

“We must put the interest of the peace, unity and stability of Nigeria ahead of any other consideration and must not give its detractors an excuse to plunge our nation into chaos.

“We appeal to our members and supporters to remain calm and law-abiding and not do anything or take any action that may lead to the breach of the peace”.

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