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How Yobe plans polls amid PDP boycott and INEC alarm

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it will not participate in the elections because of security concerns and alleged plan to rig the polls.…

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it will not participate in the elections because of security concerns and alleged plan to rig the polls. It says that it has every reason to believe that the ruling All Progressives Congress ((APC) in the state will manipulate the state electoral body in its favour.
Political parties that have fielded candidates for the election include: the APC, Alliance for Democracy (AD), National Conscience Party (NCP), Citizens People Party (CPP), Advance Congress of Democrats (ACD) and People for Democratic Change (PDC).
The leaders of the parties had in a recent meeting with SIEC said they were satisfied with the level of preparedness for the election.
However, their readiness comes at the time when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expresses reservation over such preparedness.
Its chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, told a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Senate Committee on INEC that he had advised against the conduct of the Yobe State local government election.
“The security situation in the area (Yobe) has forced the commission not to conduct a bye election to fill the Nangere Constituency position in the state House of Assembly,” Jega said.
It will be recalled that the Nangere seat became vacant following the death of the deputy leader of Yobe State House of Assembly, Alhaji Adamu Degubi, who was killed by suspected Boko Haram terrorist in his house in Potiskum in 2012.
Apparently not in support of the INEC position, the Chairman of Yobe SIEC Alhaji Muhammad Jauro says there is no going back on the elections, adding that adequate arrangements have been made in respect of election materials and officials that would conduct the elections.
It is not yet clear if INEC will play any role in the elections.
Top politicians of the APC in the state said they are not perturbed by they see as the lacklustre attitude of INEC or the posture of the PDP, alleging that the two are trying to undermine democracy in the state.
The PDP is the leading opposition party in the state but some pundits believe that it is going into oblivion as a result of the on-going realignment at the national political scene — a claim which stalwart of the party debunked.
To show their preparedness for the election, thousands of APC supporters, including many that decamped from the PDP last Saturday gathered at the Damaturu Stadium for a rally and presentation of flags to their contestants for the council polls.
Those at the gathering include Governor Ibrahim Gaidam and his deputy, Abubakar Aliyu; Senators Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Ahmed Lawan and Alkali Jajeri; all the six members of the House of Representatives from the state, the speaker and all members of the Borno State House of Assembly; Senator Adamu Talba who decamped to the APC from the PDP, commissioners among others.
In his speech, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam said Yobe people should not be denied the opportunity to exercise their franchise simply because they are in the opposition.
He said: “We should not be deterred by the antics of the opposition in their attempt to dethrone democracy, particularly in our state, on account of insecurity in the northeast.”
Gaidam said if not for the merger arrangements between All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and other parties which gave birth to APC, the state would have conducted its council polls in June.
“In keeping with our pledge, the state electoral commission has completed preparations, relating to the provision of election materials, sale of forms for candidates, screening of candidates, among others, and is now fully ready for the conduct of election.
“Our resolve to conduct local council elections is geared towards restoring hope and confidence in local governance and to provide grassroots link for our new party, the APC,” the governor said.
Gaidam accused the Minister of State for Finance Dr Yerima Lawan Ngama of giving bad impression about the situation in Yobe.
Apparently referring to Ngama, Gaidam said: “Honestly speaking it will be foolhardy for us to join issues with someone who is novice in politics, someone that lacks support even in his constituency.”
But rising in defence of Ngama, Sule Ado Kwaki Yusuf, alias Castro, said it was Gaidam who does not have the support of the electorate.
“The coast is clear, Ngama is a popular person and as minister, he did not fail his people, unlike the governor who has not yet delivered his campaign promises.”
On his part, former Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim provided a justification for the election. “The reason why we are being discouraged from holding this election is because we are in the opposition. If Yobe were a PDP state, nobody will say it is not safe for credible election. We would never be in PDP and we would go ahead with our election. Progressives have never ruled Nigeria but come 2015, APC will establish government not only at local level but across all the states in the federation including the presidency,” he said.
Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North) said the PDP was dodging the election in order to hide its iniquities. “The PDP is the most unpopular party in Yobe State and those representing the state at the national level lack grassroots support. They are pretty sure of winning nothing,” he said.
Senator Alkali Jajere of Yobe Zone B, who is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, said the electoral body has no right to stop elections anywhere.
“I had responded immediately to Professor Jega that there is never a portion in the Electoral Act where it was written that general elections cannot be conducted in an area that witnessed conflict.
“However, Jega’s declaration is a good development, because by virtue of our prayers as a people, God has exposed the evil plotting of the PDP, which is bent on seeing that they use every means to win elections in Yobe State,” he claimed.
 Responding to the allegations, the state Chairman of the PDP Alhaji Lawan Gana Karasuwa said they are not afraid of the APC, pointing out that their resolve not to participate in the elections was based on insecurity in the state. Yobe is one of the three states that are currently under the state of emergency.
“We opted out of the local government election in the state because as leaders we should be guided by the constitution,” he said.
“Only God knows when the security situation will improve. I believe we should consider the well-being of the electorate first before any other thing, not to play politics with human lives,” he added.
Troubles in the PDP in Yobe State dates back to the 2011 elections when former minister of police affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri, and late Senator Usman Albishir who defected from the defunct ANPP factionalized the PDP after a fierce contest for the governorship ticket of the party.
After Albishir won the ticket, Waziri allegedly worked underground with the incumbent Governor Ibrahim Gaidam who flew the flag of the ANPP and subsequently won the governorship election.
The coming of Dr Ngama as the minister of finance who is also seen as the successor of Albishir, coupled with the exit of Waziri as minister did not significantly alter the position of the PDP in the state.
As the leader of the party in the state, analysts believe that Ngama has a herculean task in bringing together the aggrieved members of the PDP in the state to make impact in 2015 elections.

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