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23 presidential candidates fail to reach consensus

Posted by By FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE AND KINGSLEY OKEKE, Abuja on 2007/04/13 | Views: 862 |

23 presidential candidates fail to reach consensus


The coalition of the 23 presidential candidates on Thursday in Abuja announced the formation of an anti-rigging committee to checkmate perceived electoral fraud by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in conjunction with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

• Form anti-rigging committee

The coalition of the 23 presidential candidates on Thursday in Abuja announced the formation of an anti-rigging committee to checkmate perceived electoral fraud by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in conjunction with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The nine-man committee, headed by Professor Pat Utomi, is to strategise and adopt methods aimed at detecting fraud during the elections and coordinating response by members to resist any attempt to rig the elections and impose unpopular candidates on the nation.

However, the absence of top presidential contenders like Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress (AC) and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) stalled the meeting from adopting a common position on the issue of a consensus presidential candidate as a weapon to wrest power from the PDP. The National Publicity Secretary of the PPA, Lisa Olu Akerele, represented Kalu but Alhaji Atiku was not represented.

The meeting, which resolved to get all the candidates together to forge a common front before April 21, adjourned till next Tuesday, April 17, even as the candidates present alleged that the INEC had perfected plans to return PDP to power. They passed a vote of no confidence on the commission’s ability to organize credible elections.

In the same vein, the presidential candidates disagreed with the Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, who had warned voters to stay away from polling zones after casting their votes. They insisted that voters must remain and watch over their votes.
“Voters are advised to stay in the vicinity of the polling units, collation centres and should not leave until results are announced and all necessary documentations are in the hands of all the party agents,” they instructed.

The coalition expressed willingness to work together to frustrate rigging even when it doubted the managerial ability of the INEC and the police to conduct the coming elections in a free and fair manner.
However, the candidates agreed to go ahead with the elections in spite of their reservations about INEC’s conduct, saying they would rely on the promises and claims of the commission that all was well and that the onus was on the commission to prove itself right.

Fielding questions from newsmen at the end of the meeting, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), explained that the issue of consensus candidacy was mentioned during the meeting but had to be deferred till the next adjourned date when the substantive presidential candidates of all the 23 political parties would be in attendance and jointly accept the option.
Stressing the reasons the candidates must come together to fight the PDP, Buhari alleged that all the INEC officials being deployed as returning officers for the elections had been found to be PDP members.

He, therefore, told the INEC to accept the 20,000 lawyers offered by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as volunteers and use them in place of its biased officials as the returning officers to make the elections credible.
The former head of state also called on INEC to continue the display of the voters’ register to enable voters know where they would vote.

In the 14-page communiqué read by the presidential candidate of the National Democrats (ND), Professor Isa Odidi, the coalition maintained that although a credible and reliable voters’ register could still not be compiled by the INEC, the election must not only hold but also be free and fair.
While appealing to Nigerians to come out en masse, vote and monitor their votes, the coalition disclosed that its members had agreed to pool resources together to ensure that all the polling booths were manned by all party agents, who will monitor counting, collating and final announcement of the results.

Members of the coalition promised to give maximum cooperation to those charged with the conduct of the elections, but warned: “Any deviation from the due process will be resisted vigorously.”
They disagreed with the Inspector General of Police that people should vote and leave the polling zone, saying that voters should stay to monitor their votes and ensure they are counted on the spot.

The anti-rigging committee is mandated to develop a process by which the coalition will establish a collaborative relationship that would lead to the formation of a broad based and all-inclusive government.
Members of the committee, which cut across the political parties are Dr. Osagie Obayuwana of the NCP; Major Mojisola Obasanjo (retd), MMN; Alhaji Habu Fari, NDP; Engr. Ebere Udeagu, DPP; and Lisa Olu Akerele, PPA.
Others are Barr. R.A. Oluyede, NAP; Etubom Asuquo Nya, ANPP; and Yunusa Tanko, both of who would serve as joint secretary.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.