The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent comments on the country’s electoral process under the current Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) questions the credibility of the February 2019 presidential election; saying in urging INEC and the police to ensure that the will of the people prevails in credible elections, going forward, the president admitted that elections which he won under the current dispensation had been anything but free, fair and credible.
After meeting Wednesday with INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, at the Presidential Villa, Buhari was quoted as saying: “Our elections must be done in violence-free atmosphere. The process must be free, fair, decent and devoid of intimidations and malpractices. It is the duty of the police to accomplish that and this is what I expect in the elections immediately, ahead and going forward. Those that you declare as winners must be candidates that the people have chosen. Democracy is about free will, and the will of the people must be allowed to prevail.”
This admonition, according to a statement by PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, is “a weighty verdict by the president on the huge electoral fraud perpetrated in the 2019 elections by his party, APC.” The PDP statement added: “Though the verdict of the Supreme Court on the presidential election stands, in total obedience to our laws, the fact remains that the violent manipulations of the 2019 elections in favour of the APC and its candidates will continue to stare our nation in the face.”
The major opposition party further stated that Buhari’s remark showed that beneficiaries of manipulated polls are always confronted with the truth, in their conscience. PDP tasked INEC and the police to come clean of the details of their recent meeting with Buhari, which was coming ahead of about 28 impending run-offs and by-elections scheduled for this month.
“Our party holds that INEC is an independent electoral commission whose activities and processes are clearly governed by the law and extant rules and not by the dictates or prescriptions of the president,” the statement added. It urged the president to steer clear of INEC, adding that the commission must assert its independence and “desist from going to the Presidential Villa for instructions on elections.”
In another development, the PDP hailed the ruling of the Supreme Court, upholding the elections of Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia , Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and Darius Ishaku of Taraba. The party gave the commendation in another statement by Ologbondiyan on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ologbondiyan said that the ruling was an inevitable validation of the wishes and aspiration of the people as expressed in the March 2019 governorship elections in the respective states. “The PDP observes that the ruling of the apex court is a victory for democracy and the triumph of the people over forces that sought to forcefully take over control of their states,” he said.
Ologbondiyan urged the governors to continue in their qualitative governance for which the people overwhelmingly re-elected them. He also advised the governors to continue in their commitment to programmes that were geared towards empowering the people and reducing the level of poverty in the country. He reminded the governors as well as all other officials elected and appointed on the platform of the party that Nigerians across board were looking up to them for solutions. Ologbondiyan added that Nigerians were also looking up to them for direction in their overall effort to move the nation forward.