PDP Threat­ens to Boy­cott Fu­ture Elec­tions over Elec­tronic Vot­ing

THISDAY - - FRONT PAGE - Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) has threat­ened not to par­tic­i­pate in fu­ture elec­tions if the Elec­toral Act is not amended to en­sure that elec­tronic vot­ing is adopted by the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC).

At a meet­ing with the INEC yes­ter­day, the main op­po­si­tion party also asked the elec­toral um­pire to clar­ify whether Nige­ria is still prac­tis­ing the United States’ pres­i­den­tial democ­racy or the Egyp­tian model, where the mil­i­tary

par­tic­i­pates and su­per­vises elec­tions.

Also, PDP told INEC to en­sure that the Elec­toral Act is amended to en­throne elec­tronic vot­ing, or the party might not par­tic­i­pate in sub­se­quent elec­tions.

The po­si­tion of PDP was made known by its Na­tional Chair­man, Prince Uche Se­con­dus, when the Na­tional Work­ing Com­mit­tee (NWC) met the INEC Elec­tion Party Mon­i­tor­ing Depart­ment led by the com­mis­sion’s Deputy Di­rec­tor, Mr. Musa Husule.

Se­con­dus, who be­rated INEC for con­duct­ing one of the worst elec­tions in 2019, told the vis­it­ing INEC team that his­tory would hold them re­spon­si­ble for their ac­tions.

Se­con­dus told INEC to

clar­ify the form of democ­racy that Nige­ria was prac­tis­ing and won­dered whether it was still the Amer­i­can model of democ­racy or the Egyp­tian model of democ­racy where the mil­i­tary were al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate and su­per­vise elec­tions.

He stated that it was nec­es­sary for INEC to clar­ify this po­si­tion, so as to in­clude it in the elec­toral re­form on con­duct of free, fair and cred­i­ble elec­tion.

"Such le­gal frame­work should ad­dress the is­sue of se­cu­rity, elec­tronic vot­ing and col­la­tion of re­sults and pun­ish­ment for elec­toral of­fend­ers," he ex­plained.

Speak­ing on party rules, Se­con­dus told the INEC of­fi­cials that the oper­a­tion

of PDP was ba­si­cally as en­shrined in the party's con­sti­tu­tion as amended in 2016, say­ing, "We are a party guided by the rule of law and we re­li­giously fol­low the dic­tates of democ­racy, an­chor­ing our strength on the Nige­rian peo­ple in line with our slo­gan-power to the peo­ple."

He said PDP had played great roles to sus­tain democ­racy in Nige­ria since 1999.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the PDP has since 1999 nur­tured democ­racy for 16 years, dur­ing which the party car­ried out an ex­ten­sive elec­toral re­form that cul­mi­nated in its loss of power and the en­try of the op­po­si­tion since 2015.

"That seam­less tran­si­tion of

power from rul­ing party to op­po­si­tion re­mains the finest time for our democ­racy and INEC. The global democ­racy stood in salute for us as a na­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, both INEC and the govern­ment in power have been un­able to repli­cate or grow on that fine foun­da­tion," he said.

Se­con­dus de­scribed 2015 as the finest hour of Nige­ria’s democ­racy, even though PDP was ousted as the rul­ing party, adding that on the con­trary the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion was the height of elec­toral im­punity that set the na­tion back­wards.

On INEC and its du­ties, Se­con­dus said PDP had been at­tack­ing the com­mis­sion be­cause it com­pro­mised its in­tegrity.

"We are stand­ing vin­di­cated

in the eyes of many elec­toral watch­ers as all our fears and ap­pre­hen­sions ahead of elec­tion came to fruition in the gen­eral elec­tion of Fe­bru­ary and March this year, the pre­ced­ing gov­er­nor­ship elec­tions in Ek­iti and Osun States ear­lier and the lat­est be­ing the Novem­ber 16, 2019 gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion in Bayelsa and Kogi States," he added.

He told INEC that the sur­vival and sus­te­nance of democ­racy rested squarely on the in­tegrity of the com­mis­sion, which would derive from the char­ac­ter and the im­par­tial­ity of its op­er­a­tives.

He said: "The ef­fect of bad elec­tions in our polity has been far reach­ing, stag­nat­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,

and per­ma­nently foist­ing on the peo­ple un­pop­u­lar and in­com­pe­tent lead­ers. The ten­sion and un­cer­tainty in the coun­try to­day is clearly fall­out of elec­tion mishap in Fe­bru­ary.

"Free, fair and cred­i­ble elec­tion is ex­actly what PDP and in­deed global democ­racy de­mand and ex­pect from INEC.”

Re­spond­ing, Husule said their visit to PDP was part of the reg­u­la­tory body’s mon­i­tor­ing of po­lit­i­cal par­ties to su­per­vise their fi­nance, check on names of mem­ber of the party, su­per­vi­sion of the party head­quar­ters, phys­i­cal check on mem­bers of the NWC and the names of the NEC, as well as sight­ing of the party con­sti­tu­tion, among oth­ers.

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