Ripples of the rescheduling of the general elections have continued, with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday accusing the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, of holding secret meetings with the main opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC), in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE).
PDP also raised three questions for the INEC chairman on the one-sided distribution of the permanent voters’ cards (PVCs), which the ruling party said was skewed in favour of the APC and against states perceived to be pro-President Goodluck Jonathan.
PDP also described as fairy tales the concept of an interim government, dismissing it as part of the APC propaganda and unnecessary alarm raised by opposition, which it said have become the hallmark of APC at spreading false information.
Addressing a press conference yesterday on the rescheduling of the general elections, the Director of the PDP presidential campaign organisation, Femi Fani Kayode, said: “Pieces of information at our disposal have shown that Jega has had meetings with APC stalwarts in Dubai and other cities in the world to perfect this wanton conspiracy against 23 million eligible voters.
“Besides, we have information that the PVCs that Nigerians are scrambling for are not in Nigeria and will not arrive before the elections. These PVCs are still in China and Jega has strategically delayed their arrival to suit his electioneering permutations.”
Putting Jega on the hot seat, Fani-Kayode demanded to know: “Can Jega show Nigerians proof that the Chinese company printing the PVCs has been paid in full by disclosing the total contract sum and the amount paid to date?
“Can Prof Jega show proof of arrival or expected date of arrival of all PVCs for the elections? Can Jega tell Nigerians how he could have distributed 23 million PVCs within five days to the election if there hadn’t been a postponement?”
The PDP campaign spokesman also asked: “Could this be why Jega has refused to allow citizens use their temporary voter cards despite pleas from the National Assembly and well-meaning Nigerians?
“Does it make sense to disenfranchise 23 million citizens (a third of the eligible voters) because INEC says it wants to avoid rigging? The 2011 elections were adjudged the most transparent by Nigerians, the international community and the INEC chairman himself, said so without the use of PVCs. So what has changed?
“Is this why APC leaders and members insisted on the non-postponement of the elections even when they knew that 23 million Nigerians may not vote? Did they know something we did not know?
“Jega said on national television on January 23, that INEC was doing everything possible to ensure that before the end of January, all the cards have been produced and made available. That deadline has come and gone and we still do not have the PVCs. Is he being sincere?
“We hereby challenge him to be honourable and transparent. He should publish accurate information on the state of PVCs: how many PVCs are in the country? Where are they located state by state? When would others arrive from China? How does he plan to distribute them before elections?
“Jega should respond to these allegations of partisanship and ineptitude, and live up to his responsibilities as an independent election umpire. If he refuses to do so, we may end up losing confidence in him.”
In view of this, the PDP campaign organisation asked, “Why are the PVCs collection rates in the North-central, South-south, South-west and South-east much lower with the highest being 57 per cent? Is it because these geo-political zones may be pro-Jonathan?
“Why does the North-west zone which includes Katsina (Buhari’s home state) have the highest collection rate of 80 per cent ? How come the North-east also has a 75 per cent collection rate when, in fact, three states in this zone-Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have been under the attack of Boko Haram insurgents, a development that has led to the displacement of many residents? Did the internally displaced persons go back there to collect their PVCs?
“Why is it that North-central zone, which includes states like Plateau and Benue that traditionally vote PDP, have a collection rate of 48 per cent when North-east and North-west have between 75 and 80 per cent collection rates?
“INEC would have us believe that as far back as January 2014, the PVC distribution would be done in phases:
“Phase 1, according to the commission, commenced May 2014 in 10 states-Taraba, Gombe, Zamfara, Kebbi, Benue, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa.
“Phase 2 covered Yobe, Bauchi (North-east) Jigawa, Sokoto (North-west), the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara (North-central), Anambra, Ebonyi (South-east), Ondo, Oyo (South-west), Delta and Cross River (South-south).
“Phase 3 kicked off in November and involved 13 states – Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Adamawa, Borno, Edo, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, and Plateau.
“Can Jega explain to Nigerians how Kano, Adamawa, Borno, Kaduna and Katsina, which were slated for Phase 3 and actually kicked off in November 2014, have achieved a 75-80 per cent PVC collection rate whilst many states slated under Phases 1 and 2 and even some others in Phase 3 are still in the 40-50 per cent collection rate?”
When contacted on the allegations against the INEC chairman, his Chief Press Secretary Idowu Kayode, said: “INEC does not join issues with political parties. INEC is a dispassionate umpire.”
Also, Fani-Kayode dismissed allegations of a plot to set up an interim government as a fairy tale from the APC, insisting that the concept was unknown to the Nigerian constitution.
He described it as part of APC’s illusion and fear of defeat.
Fani-Kayode also dismissed the endorsement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the presidential candidate of APC, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), as his personal view, stating that PDP will meet Obasanjo and others in the field during the presidential election.
“He is entitled to his views. It is about one man, one vote. It is unfortunate because Obasanjo knows who Buhari is and still endorsed him. But we wish him well; we will meet in the field.”
Fani-Kayode further described allegations that the PDP was buying PVCs at N10,000 each as a tissue of lies, stating, “There is no way PVCs can be used without a thumb print.”