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PDP’s desperate push for polls shift

Not many Nigerians took the APC’s allegation serious, considering the level of allegations and counter-allegations between it and the PDP since its successful merger. Some…

Not many Nigerians took the APC’s allegation serious, considering the level of allegations and counter-allegations between it and the PDP since its successful merger. Some assumed that it was part of campaign and politicking that will precede the election. But consistently APC repeatedly alerted Nigerians about plans by the PDP to shift the February elections. When the allegation was made, neither the PDP nor the Presidency refuted or acknowledged it. The duo maintained studied silence, pretending not being in the knowhow of the plan to postpone the election.
  True to the APC allegation, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) had recently canvassed for the postponement of next month’s elections to give the Independent National Electoral Commission time to distribute over 30 million outstanding Permanent Voter Cards to registered voters. Dasuki, according to report said he had told the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, that a postponement within the three months allowed by the law, would be a good idea. Before Dasuki spoke at the Chatham House, a London think-tank, groups being supportive of the PDP had also advised that the elections should be shifted.
 Dasuki told participants at a talk in London, that INEC which had distributed over 30 million cards late last year, had assured him that the outstanding PVCs would be given out before February 14, the first day of the elections. He however stated that he believed it would make more sense to shift the elections since the law provided a 90-day window during which elections could legally take place. “It costs you nothing, it’s still within the law,” Dasuki said, adding however that it was for INEC and not for him, to decide.
There is no doubt that Dasuki’s call is a confirmation that the Presidency and the PDP were tinkering with idea of compelling or pushing the INEC to postpone the elections as earlier alleged by APC. For a serving National Security Adviser in the PDP led government to openly canvass for the shift of the polls calls for concern. It is also raised question on the independence of the electoral commission ahead of the next month polls. It may not be out of place that the Presidency, PDP and their cohorts have infiltrated INEC to ensure that they had their way.
Before Dasuki’s call, Adamawa State governor, Mr. Bala Ngilari has made a similar call for the shift of the polls. The unison in the call by the PDP chieftains for the shift of the forthcoming general elections is not only suspicious, but conspiratorial. Their reasons are not tenable because INEC had assured that the remaining permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) would be continuously distributed till February 13. It would also be recalled that in most of his campaign speeches, President Jonathan had always said that May 29 handover is sacrosanct, but has never mentioned that February polls are sacrosanct.       
  Instead of calling and championing for the shift of the polls, the PDP and its allies should call for the use of the temporary voters’ cards for the elections as demanded by members of the House of Representatives during their last session. Hiding under the flimsy excuse that previous elections have been conducted in April to justify their position for the shift is hypocritical and questionable. If that is the case, why not call for the shift earlier than now to save the Commission and Nigerians waste and money?
Questions that should be troubling the mind of Nigerians are why should PDP chieftains asking for the shift of polls now and mounting pressure on INEC to disqualify Buhari on the ground of non-qualification? Presently, PDP is in dire need of peace, unity and cohesion following the intra-party crisis that had trailed the outcome of the party primaries across the country.
From Ebonyi to Delta, Bauchi, Abia, Cross River and other states, there are obvious discontent and division in the party and the party chieftains know that such will haunt them in the elections if conducted as scheduled. It may not be out of place that the push for the poll shift by the PDP is to enable them put their houses in order and demonise the APC presidential candidate, Buhari more through fabricated documentaries and spurious adverts. It seems they also need more time to spread false propaganda on President Jonathan’s unverifiable achievements in the last six years which Nigerians have called to question.
 Whichever way one looks at it, PDP chieftains’ push for poll shift smacks desperate and lack of confidence in the ability of the party to win the general elections convincingly. If not, many Nigerians had expected that such call for shift should have emanated from the opposition party APC, having not been in the helm of affairs of the country in the last six years.
INEC’s quick response to the call and clarification is a welcome development. It shows the readiness and firmness of the Commission to conduct the polls as scheduled. The Commission should work hard to ensure that all registered voters get their PVCs before the elections as promised. Apart from this, the Commission should know that it is their  constitutional right to fix date for elections not PDP or anybody including the Presidency. So the Commission leadership should be aware that all eyes are on them, and should not allow themselves to be use as pawns in the political chessboard of anybody ahead of the next month polls. Nigerians are quite aware that the hiccups being experienced by the Commission towards the preparation of the polls is as a result of the Federal government’s failure to release all the Commission’s 2014 budgetary allocation.
A development many believe was intentional and political by PDP-led government to ensure that polls are shifted as being canvassed by its members and supporters. Prominent Nigerians should mount pressure on the Federal government to release all the Commission’s 2014 budgetary allocation to enable them conduct free and fair election next month. Nigerians at this critical search for true and capable leadership cannot afford to witness compromised, rigged and crisis-ridden elections.
 Ntama, a retired civil servant, wrote from Asaba, Delta State

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