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NEW 20: ‘INEC should conduct credible polls in Kogi, Bayelsa’

NEW 20: ‘INEC should conduct credible polls in Kogi, Bayelsa’ ‘INEC should conduct credible polls in Kogi, Bayelsa’ Chief Martin Onovo was the presidential candidate…

NEW 20: ‘INEC should conduct credible polls in Kogi, Bayelsa’

‘INEC should conduct credible polls in Kogi, Bayelsa’

Chief Martin Onovo was the presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the last general elections. In this interview, he speaks on Nigeria’s electoral system and the agitation for power shift to the South-East geo-political zone among other issues. Excerpts:

By Saawua Terzungwe

Has Nigeria has fared in the conduct of elections since the return of democracy in 1999?

The electoral system has remained corrupt since 1999. The degree of corruption has increased steadily from 1999 to 2015. So far, the flawed 1999 elections may be the best we have had since this fourth republic, may be, because it was conducted by the military who are not allowed to be partisan politicians. They are better equipped to provide security for elections. The 2003 charade elections were clearly weighed heavily in favour of the incumbent. The results were challenged in court. The 2007 charade elections turned out the most comical in several areas. The numbers of reported votes were clearly in excess of the number of registered voters. The principal beneficiary of the 2007 elections, late President Umar Musa Yar’adua, a good man, was so overwhelmed with the comical INEC charade that, in his personal dignity and integrity, admitted that his election was flawed and called for a government of national unity. That is a very good example that President Buhari can follow.

The 2011 charade elections were carefully manipulated to avoid the comical outcome of the 2007 charade. The manipulations led to over 200 pre-election cases; a national record. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) clearly disregarded the Nigerian Constitution and Electoral Act in a very arrogant display of impunity. The 2015 elections saw the impunity of INEC rose to a treasonable crescendo…. INEC subverted all critical steps in the election to ensure a tainted victory for the APC. With a very elaborate media campaign, they have been struggling to label the election free and fair. But only the simple-minded have been deceived.

The following facts confirm that INEC conducted a treasonable charade: INEC disenfranchised majority of voters when it claimed that it had about 69 million registered voters and reported only about 29 million total; lawful and unlawful votes in the 2015 presidential charade election. Indisputably, INEC disenfranchised over 40 million registered voters through several treasonable schemes. INEC’s treasonable schemes included; not printing ‘Permanent Voters Cards’ (PVCs) for very many voters before the elections; deliberately mis-distributing printed PVCs to ensure that very many voters did not get their PVCs; insisting on the use of the PVCs prior to the elections; using defective ‘Card readers’; arriving late at polling stations; arriving without adequate materials; etc.

INEC disregarded the campaign finance limits imposed by the ‘Electoral Act’ (Section 91) and allowed unlawful campaign expenses. INEC lawlessly claimed that it had no capacity to enforce the ‘Electoral Act’. INEC disregarded the obvious use of slush funds (proceeds of corruption) for the campaigns of some candidates, thereby encouraging corruption.

What is the task ahead of the new INEC chairman? What are the expectations of political parties from INEC, especially as the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections approach?

The task ahead of the new INEC Chairman is to promote the rule of law in elections in Nigeria. The law requires free, fair, credible and lawful elections that return sovereignty to the Nigerian people. We do not expect a lawless and corrupt charade as we have seen so many times in the past.

Are you satisfied with the quality of the present ministers-designate in terms of character and integrity?

We saw the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators in the Senate during the screening of the ministers-desginate publicly celebrating the very serious corruption allegations against some APC ministerial nominees. They even rejected the report of their own Senate Committee on Ethics. The corruption of the anti-corruption war is the institutionalization of corruption in Nigeria by the APC. It appears that the membership of APC entitles suspects of corruption to a baptism of political purification. It must be stated clearly that the allegations against some of the APC nominees were made by their state governments with incontrovertible evidence. We are not disappointed because we know the true nature of the APC. We are not fooled by their deceitful media sanctimony. The National Chairman of the National Conscience Party [NCP], Dr. Tanko Yunusa; a member of the

National Peace Committee, and many other ethical leaders, have condemned the very clearly selective pattern of the false APC anti-corruption war.

Can you assess the operations of the judiciary, especially the election petition tribunals under President Muhammadu Buhari administration?

The judiciary must remain just, fair and impartial. It must be free from alleged political influence.

What are the factors likely to shape the 2019 presidential race?

With the current trends of increasing political consciousness in Nigeria, public interest and public debates on issues, the candidates will be much more relevant. The NCP has excited the intellectual interest of the public with its intellectual and ethical

focus during the 2015 general elections.

What could you say constitute the major stumbling blocks to having an Igbo President in Nigeria despite the agitation for power shift to the South-East over the years?

No part of Nigeria can produce a Nigerian President by itself. Any southerner who wishes to win a presidential election must get close to majority of votes in the North. Any northerner who wishes to win a presidential election must also get close to majority of votes in the South. Since the amalgamation in 1914, Nigerians have progressed toward national integration with National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Federal Character, requirements in political parties and presidential elections, Unity Schools, inter-marriages, business relations, and political alliances etcetera. Unfortunately, the current APC-led Federal Government has attacked national integration by its sectional agenda. With President Buhari in power by 2019, the North would have controlled federal executive power for 42 years, the South-West for 11 years, the South-South for 5 years and the South-East for less than 1year. Justice is a ‘Cardinal Virtue’. As a matter of justice, power should rotate to the South-East in 2019. When power rotates to the South-East, justice will prevail, political peace will be established, unity will be achieved, synergy will be seamless and development will be accelerated. This must be our national consensus.

What was your experience in the presidential contest?

My experience was very profound. It was spiritually, socially, morally, financially and intellectually exhausting. I thank God, the Supreme and Almighty Creator for the experience.

Why we will maintain our hold on Bayelsa -PDP BoT chair

By Muideen Olaniyi

Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, has said that the party will leave no stone unturned in its determination to maintain its hold in the strategic South-South state of Bayelsa.

Dr Mohammed, in a signed release which was issued yesterday in Abuja through his Special Assistant, Media, Mr. Emeka Nwankpa, said the party had raised the welfare and wellbeing of the people of Bayelsa State and won their confidence since 1999 to deserve the re-election of Governor Seriake Dickson in the forth-coming governorship election of December 5.

He said reports reaching the party hierarchy indicated that the people of Bayelsa were pleased with the people-oriented policies and programs of the party in the state.

He spoke at the PDP National Secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday at a meeting of the National Campaign Committee on Bayelsa State 2015 Governorship Election which is under his chairmanship.

He said that the committee was constituted by the party’s National Working Committee to ensure that PDP wins the crucial election convincingly.

“It bears no repeating that our party means business in this election hence the setting up of this high-powered committee to lead party faithful to Yenagoa and ensure that the flag of our great party continues to fly in the Bayelsa State Government House come December 5. Our mission therefore is very clear and the message is unambiguous: Go to Yenagoa and make sure that our great party wins this election fair and square“, he declared.

According to him, the committee will do everything humanly possible to ensure that the party wins the coming election in a manner that is clear and unequivocal based on the overwhelming support of the peace-loving people of Bayelsa State.

He urged members of the committee to see the assignment as a call to duty and in furtherance of on-going moves by stakeholders to reposition the party ahead of the forth-coming general elections in 2019.

He admonished members of the party nationwide to rise up to the challenge of promoting and defending the interests of the party always.

He told members of the party across the country to remain vigilant always, describing the November 21, 2015 and the December 5, 2015 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states respectively as a defining moment in the process of rebuilding the party as the preferred political party for the Nigerian voters in 2019.

Some of the members who attended the meeting were former Deputy Speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha ( Deputy Chairman), Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Leo Ogor, PDP National Auditor, Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju, His Royal Highness, King Turner, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, Prof A.B.C Nwosu, High Chief Alegho Dokpesi, and former Minister of State for Works, Chief Dayo Adeyeye, among others.

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