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10 political parties reject calls for poll shift

Ten registered political parties on Thursday kicked against the demand by 16 other parties that this month’s general elections be postponed.

They stated their position at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

The parties made their stand known a day after Nigeria’s leading opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, similarly rejected the call for the delay of the polls.

The APC Chairman, John Oyegun, had during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, said the party would not accept the postponement of the elections.

The 16 parties and four presidential candidates had at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to shift the dates of the elections originally scheduled for February 14 and 28.

The parties said the current security situation in the north east zone of the country and the untidy manner the Commission handled the distribution of the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, informed their demand.

They also threatened to boycott the polls if their demand was not met.

However, the 10 parties said on Thursday that they were shocked at the conduct of 16 of their colleagues “who have joined the infamous campaign to scuttle Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy by calling for the postponement of the general election barely a week before the election is to commence.”

The parties are the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM; African Peoples Alliance, APA; KOWA Party; Mega Progressives Peoples Party, MPPP; Social Democratic Party, SDP; African Democratic Congress, ADC; Hope Democratic Party, HDP; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP; United Progressives Party, UPP; Accord Party, AP.

“We condemn, in the strongest terms possible, this underhand and undemocratic tactic meant to plunge our country into anarchy, on top of the debilitating state of insecurity which has become pervasive in the land,” the parties said.

“The call for the postponement of the general election has nothing to do with the preparedness of Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct the election or the pace of distribution and collection of Permanent Voters Card.

“INEC, the authority empowered by law to fix the date of the election had said, countless times, it is ready and prepared to conduct a free, fair and credible election on February 14th and 28th. As a matter of fact, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman of INEC and his colleagues in the Commission had stated time and time again, that they had four years to prepare for the election and they will deliver better election this time around.

“The military led by the Chief of Defence Staff had guaranteed adequate security on land and air for a successful and safe conduct of the 2015 general election.”

They argued that the assurances ought to have settled the fears about the security of lives and property as well as of the electorates and INEC officials.

The parties also said governors and citizens of the States under attack by 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.

They alleged that the call for the shift in the dates of the election was “orchestrated by one of the political parties which had continued to invest huge sums of money to ensure the elections do not hold as scheduled, out of fear of losing power for the first time since 1999.”

They said the nation’s democracy had come of age and that Nigerians were ready for change.

“We will not allow desperation and power-mongering to scuttle it and will do whatever is necessary to defend it and ensure that the general election holds as scheduled,” they vowed.

The parties also called on INEC not to be intimidated by desperate elements and to proceed with its preparations for the general election as scheduled.

Stating that “these are trying times,” they said it was not the first time desperate and undesirable elements would come together to scuttle Nigeria’s democracy for their selfish ends.

“We remember June 12, 1993 and the role played by these elements to scuttle Nigeria’s democracy and the chain of events which ensued. It is not surprising that the same characters are again at work,” they said.

They assured the Commission they will stand by it, “shoulder to shoulder, to ensure our democracy is not undermined.”

The parties stressed, “We urge all major stakeholders, especially well meaning Political Parties and their Presidential candidates, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the National Assembly as well as all the security agencies in the country to stand together to ensure that the 2015 General Election is conducted as scheduled and guarantee that Nigeria survives to face another general election in 2019.

“We call on friends of Nigeria and the International community at large to stand with Nigeria in these very trying times and put pressure on the authorities to comply with the timetable of democratic elections as released by INEC.

“We call on Nigerians to be vigilant and protect their hard-earned democracy and their freedom to choose those who will govern them. Nigerians must know freedom is not given on a platter of gold. It is earned and, like all truly democratic nations, the time has come for us to earn our freedom from those whose agenda is to subjugate us for sixty uninterrupted years whether we like it or not. The alternative to this is to allow ourselves and our children to be enslaved by those who do not wish us and our country well.”

They also said henceforth their slogan would be “On February 14 we stand.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Oyegun said the APC was “encouraged by the fact that INEC has restated in clear and unambiguous terms its determination and ability to conduct the elections as planned.”

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