The presidential candidate of the United Progressive Party [UPP], Chekwas Okorie, has rejected the clamour for the postponement of the general elections, describing it as “satanic.”
At a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Mr. Okorie said the reasons being advanced by the proponents of the postponement that a greater number of Nigerians would be disenfranchised because they are yet to get their Permanent Voters Card, PVC, that would enable them vote, was contrived and to a large extend pedestrian.
Some Nigerians, including the National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, have canvassed the shift of the elections to enable voters get their PVCs.
Also, some youth on Monday protested at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, calling for the postponement of the election for the same reason.
Mr. Okorie said, “The reasons being given by those making the satanic proposal are not convincing at all.”
He said at present over 80 per cent of registered voters had received their PVCs according to the latest figures released by INEC and that this may increase to 90 per cent or above after the close of distribution of the cards on February 8 as planned by the Commission.
“In every democracy, 80 per cent participation will make for a legitimate election,” Mr. Okorie said. “In fact, no country in the world including the United States of America, the most advanced democracy in the world has achieved 80 per cent participation in their general elections in their entire history.”
Mr. Okorie, who is also the national chairman of the UPP, said the recent assurance by the security agencies in Nigeria, especially the military led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, guaranteeing adequate security on land and air for a successful and safe conduct of the 2015 general election, ought to have settled the fears about the security of lives and property as well as the electorate and INEC officials.
He stated that the security challenge in the North-East of Nigeria had defied immediate solution after a State of Emergency imposed by the Federal Government of Nigeria had been extended three consecutive times.
He also recounted that the governors of the states under attack by the insurgents had not complained either to INEC or the executive and legislative arms of government that their citizens would be disenfranchised if elections were held in their States.
According to him, INEC had repeatedly assured Nigerians that the elections would hold as scheduled and that it was prepared to deliver to the Nigerian people the most credible and transparent election in the annals of the history of the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
“It is therefore amazing why some highly placed persons should be canvassing for a course of action that is a sure recipe for anarchy,” he said.
The UPP standard bearer urged INEC “to do whatever that is humanly possible to ensure that all registered voters receive their PVCs since all Nigerians have the inalienable right to exercise their franchise in a general election of this nature, even if it means further extending the date and time of distribution of the PVC to the eve of the general election.”
He also urged all the registered voters in Nigeria who have not collected their PVCs to make all efforts to collect them because “it is only their votes in a democracy that can determine the quality of government that we shall have after the election.”
He reminded them that it would take another four years to correct any mistake “we may make if wrong persons assume the leadership of Nigeria after the elections.”
Mr. Okorie expressed shock at the actions and utterances of leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, in what had become very inciting and provocative altercations in the name of campaign propaganda.
“It is more worrisome that this trend has assumed more dangerous momentum after the Abuja Peace Accord in which all the political parties and their Presidential candidates signed,” he added.
He also said the media establishments seemed to publish whatever materials sponsored by these two parties for publication without censor.
According to him, supporters of the presidential candidates who are neither campaign officials nor party officers have also jumped into the fray threatening fire and brimstone if their preferred candidates did not win the election, irrespective of whether the process leading to the election is credible and transparent.
He said the security agencies appeared helpless in the face of these open threat to public order.
Mr. Okorie said in as much as he was interested and working hard to be elected president, he would not subscribe to attacking the person or personality of the incumbent because the sanctity of the office he occupies must not be desecrated or denigrated.
He added, “Similarly, a respected elder-statesman and former Head of State of Nigeria General Muhammadu Buhari deserves the highest respect that should accrue to a person of his standing whether or not he is contesting for the office of President.
“If Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is defeated in this election which is what I am working hard to achieve as a contestant for the office of President, he will not be the first incumbent to lose in an election to continue in office. There is no reason to threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria because of his failure to win in a democratic contest.
“In the same token if General Muhammadu Buhari is defeated in the 2015 General Election, he will not be the first person to lose election after four attempts. The legendry Abraham Lincoln, a onetime President of the United States of America, achieved his ambition to be President in his sixth attempt at Presidential elections.”