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FG deceiving Nigerians on electoral reform – Nwodo, ex-PDP secretary

Posted by From GODDY OSUJI, Abakaliki on 2008/02/15 | Views: 419 |

FG deceiving Nigerians on electoral reform – Nwodo, ex-PDP secretary


The former national secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a chieftain of Action Congress (AC), Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, has taken a swipe at the former governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, for re-joining the PDP and challenged him to tell Nigerians all the evil things he said about the party when he was in AC or keep quiet.

The former national secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a chieftain of Action Congress (AC), Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, has taken a swipe at the former governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, for re-joining the PDP and challenged him to tell Nigerians all the evil things he said about the party when he was in AC or keep quiet.

Even as he insisted that AC was consistent with its election petition and would follow it up to the Supreme Court. Nwodo, in a chat with Daily Sun, said that AC has no problem with Rimi going back to the PDP. He said: “It is Rimi that has a problem. He has to tell Nigerians all the evil things he said about PDP when he was in AC.

“Have those in PDP stopped bringing candidates without internal democracy? Have they started having a national convention in which people vote and not by acclamation? In the local government elections going on in PDP states, are they practising the electoral reform, which the President is preaching? What attracted Rimi back to PDP after he had criticized the party over six months ago? It is for him to tell the country that there is wonderful, brand new PDP that he has gone back to, that is doing right all things that he said were wrong with the PDP.

“We have no problem with his leaving. It is his credibility that is on the line. But we believe, in Action Congress, that first and foremost, the elections that were done in Nigeria were heavily flawed and we should not bequeathe this kind of election to posterity. That is why we are following our petition before the electoral tribunal to the end.

“The number one thing we want to comment on is the madness called election 2007. If we don’t challenge it, the way we are challenging it across the country, it will become the order of the day. It was bad in 2003. It was worse in 2007 and this means that in 2011, there will be no election and yet results will be announced. We will be killing democracy if we allow this sham to go on unchallenged.

“The people should correct irregularities happening here. That is the main thing Action Congress is fighting for. Everybody cannot go into government with PDP. What would you be doing if you join a party that is behaving like the PDP? It means you believe in what they have done. We would look stupid to be in court against them and at the same time, be inside their government. We will not and we want to give Nigerians an alternative. We must discharge the onus of our conscience that we said no to the evil and we want good to replace evil in our country. We offer Nigerians an alternative platform. If you don’t like rubbish and madness, this is an alternative platform.”

Electoral reform committee
We made it clear in AC that we don’t believe that a man who is a beneficiary of an evil is in the best position to correct the evil. For example, every Nigerian is saying that based on the decisions of various tribunals now, Prof. Iwu should resign but the President can’t ask him to resign. If the President asks Iwu to resign, it means he is reading his judgment even before the tribunal pronounces the judgment. There will be no basis for his defence in court that he won the election, that there were free and fair elections.
To what extent can Yar’Adua go in a true electoral reform?

He is handicapped and a beneficiary. Again, he is surrounded by all the hawks in PDP who don’t want change. Majority of members in the National Assembly came through the system and they are the ones who are going to approve the change. So, even if he uses all the credible Nigerians and put them in that committee to do a wonderful job, will they pass it through the National Assembly? Everybody sitting there had result written for him and they want Iwu to stay and write more results. Many of them are going to face by-elections and Iwu has to prove that what he did was right.

We are saying to the President that we welcome the Electoral Reform Panel. But we don’t think he can execute its recommendations. There are certain limitations that make it impossible for him to execute it and if he must execute it, he must execute it on time, so that we see it in the local government elections. He is shouting that the local government elections are following the same 2007 pattern. But what is he doing about it? We are going to have by-elections. They will follow the same pattern. Now you tell Nigerians that you are doing election reform and we are supposed to believe you.

Is there democracy in the primaries going on in PDP states? The government sits down and writes out names of all the candidates and the state INEC proceeds and writes results before the elections are conducted, and the President is talking about reforms. I want to ask, where is the reform going on in PDP?

Solution
They are deceiving us. The solution, if I may say, is exactly what Archbishop Onaikan said. They should all step down, so that we can do these things properly. You can never build anything on nothing. This thing has to be done properly if we want a country we want to be proud of , if we want a solid foundation. Where do we panel-beat it to? The only thing we have achieved so far is a President who destroyed the country for eight years.

Constitution amendment
When I was the national secretary of PDP in the first year of the government, we set up a committee of seven persons made up of peoople from the three major political parties, then PDP, AD and APP as it was then called, and we had one person from each of the geo–political zones plus the legal advisers of each of the parties and later on added one woman from each group. They were supposed to look at the areas that we needed to amend. The whole idea was that if all the parties had a consensus, then, each of us would be held responsible to convince members of his/her party in the National Assembly and in each of the state Houses of Assembly. We believed that as at that time, it would not take us more than six months, maximum one year, to finish everything about Constitution amendment. The areas of agreement were obvious to everybody.

That committee, I think, was to have finished the job within six months, after giving an interim report in three months. Then president (Olusegun Obasanjo) said no; that we should expand the thing and made the former national chairman of AD, the chairman of the committee, set up a secretariat which was run by the legal adviser to the former Vice President and asked them to go round the country and collate views. They went round the country and collated views. They were ready with that report. But the Presidency sat on it and neither took it to the National Assembly nor any state House of Assembly until after his term of office.

Towards the middle of his second term in office, he (Obasanjo) added his third term proposal to the entire thing. He set up a constitutional conference. When they tried to smuggle it into the whole thing, it caused an uproar which ended unceremoniously.

Nikky Tobi, who was chairman of the conference, never gave any report of what came out of that conference. The country has not agreed on what would be changed or not changed. Obasanjo tried to smuggle it into the National Assembly and the whole thing boomeranged. All the things we wanted changed in the Constitution were sacrificed on the altar of third term, which failed. I don’t think that amending the areas Nigerians have found loopholes in is a difficult thing and I think there is agreement across political parties, across religions groups, across tribal leanings that these areas need to be changed. If we go about it like that, I don’t see any difficulty in getting the amendments done in record time.

Areas for amendment
There are so many areas, like the debate on whether immunity clause should stay or not. I was governor. Then our fear was that if governors were prosecuted, political enemies would go to court on frivolous matters and, therefore, keep the governors busy on non-issues. However, I think it makes sense to strip them of immunity.

If you want to be governor, go there and if you steal, you will be prosecuted while you are still a governor. You should not hide under immunity and in four years or eight years you have taken the entire resources of a state leaving it dry. I don’t think that any immunity that protects anybody from paying for his crime is worth being in our Constitution.

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Comments (6)

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding