The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors have accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, of lying about their claim that Mr. Buhari will fight corruption if elected, saying the former military ruler’s ideas are as old as his age.
The governors spoke in Lagos Tuesday, where they met the media and civil society groups.
The governors at the meeting include Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Jonah Jang (Plateau), Mukhtar Yero (Kaduna) and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe).
Others are Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Bala Ngilari (Adamawa), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) and Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo).
“PDP has done a lot in fighting corruption, The PDP government established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC),” said Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who is the chairman of the PDP governor’s forum.
“We, the PDP governors, want to say that we abhor the politicisation of the corruption by military veterans. When the military toppled the government, it accused the civilian leadership of corruption. Gen. Buhari did worse things to Shagari, Dr. Alex Ekweme and Ajasin. The military veterans are trying to win power by branding the PDP as a corrupt government.
“Who are the people talking about corruption? Who are the financiers of the opposition? How did they make their money? There is nothing wrong with Gen Buhari’s age, if he thinks he can withstand the rigour of the office. But, we are worried by the age of his ideas,” Mr. Akpabio said.
The Akwa Ibom governor said Mr. Buhari has never shown leadership even as a military ruler.
“He was not in charge. The regime was called Buhari/Idiagbon regime. He is using 50 year-old trick of anti-corruption to deceive Nigerians. If we must move forward, we must move forward with President Goodluck Jonathan,” he said.
We reject postponement of elections
The governors said the party was finally ready for the elections and will not support any move to again reschedule the March 28 and April 11 polls.
They said the impression created had been that the ruling party was not ready for the elections and that PDP was the chief beneficiary of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s decision to move the polls from February.
“We don’t want the elections to be postponed again, we are ready,” Mr. Akpabio said, adding that the PDP was confident it will sweep the polls.
The governor justified the decision to move the election from the initial dates, saying INEC was not ready at the time.
“… at the time the polls were shifted due to security concerns, over 23 million registered voters had yet to collect their PVCs (Permanent Voter’s Cards) and you know there are some countries with populations of about just three million,” he said.
“23 million would amount to disenfranchising more than five West African countries in their own elections.”
Mr. Akpabio said the commission still appears unprepared for the new dates.
He noted that given the unavailability of PVCs and failure rate of the card readers during INEC’s recent mock exercise, it was apparent that many Nigerians will be disenfranchised during the elections.
Mr. Akpabio’s claim came despite INEC’s position that it was satisfied with its field-testing of card readers, last Saturday, in 12 states across the six geo-political zones.
According to INEC, it achieved 100 percent success in its objective of verifying the authenticity of the PVC presented by voters during the field-test.
The electoral body, however, noted that only 59 percent of voters who turned out for the demonstration had their fingerprints successfully authenticated.
Mr. Akpabio recalled that the INEC chairman had admitted on the floor of the Senate that over one million PVCs were yet to be printed in China.
“According to the INEC chairman, the postponement was a blessing in disguise. How then can Nigerians reconcile the purported readiness of INEC for the February 14 election with the testing of card readers more than a month after the postponement?
“More than three weeks after the elections have been shifted they are then testing the card readers that would have been used,” said Mr. Akpabio.
“We re-assert that on no account should any registered voter be disenfranchised for non-possession of PVCs even when the person has a PVC when it is not due to one’s own personal fault even when the card reader has rejected or refused to recognize the thumb-print or the battery is dead and there is no electricity in that area to charge it.
“We don’t want anyone disenfranchised and we are pleading also that elections should not be shifted again because the impression being given was that we were not ready for elections even though we know that we would have won the elections if it had been allowed to hold.”
Twelve PDP governors attended the Tuesday’s meeting.
Mr. Akpabio attributed their choice of Lagos on the need to demystify the All Progressives Congress, APC, “propaganda” plaguing the state.
Mr. Jang, who said he was yet to collect his PVC, accused Mr. Jega of going back on his initial claim that card readers would be tested during by-elections before their deployment for the general elections.
“I received a text message from someone this morning and it reads: ‘During a meeting with a team from the United States last year, Jega had said card readers would not be used for the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections because they were too crucial to be used for experiments.
“INEC said the card readers would be tested in by-elections but now INEC is insisting on using card readers for elections. Are governorship elections of two states more crucial than a presidential election?”
Mr. Imoke said that Mr. Jega had lost his integrity, a virtue he noted that led to his appointment as the INEC boss.
“The facts are before us,” he said.
“The testing of card readers yesterday or today and the failure that still has not been addressed. PVCs remain unprinted as we speak. INEC has no right whatsoever to disenfranchise any Nigerian.
Mr. Akpabio accused the APC of fuelling Boko Haram insurgency in the North.
“They are behind Boko Haram. Lai Mohammed said that it is unconstitutional to deploy troops to fight Boko Haram. Gen. Buhari described Boko Haram as our people on a television programme. When they wanted to negotiate, they said Gen Buhari should negotiate for them. I call on the United States (U.S.) and the United Nations (UN) to help Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram, now that the group is associated with the ISIS,” the governor said.
He also said the crisis has increased because the states involved, all APC states, are Nigeria’s poorest.
“There is a correlation between insurgency and poverty. Those who ruled those states have contributed to insurgency. The opposition is behind Boko Haram. The Senate has passed a resolution praising the Federal Government and the military for its success in the anti-Boko Haram war. But, APC has only praised the military. The Federal Government and the military deserve commendation for fighting insurgency.”