As the long-awaited general elections approach, the political parties and the governments of the day have continued to exchange various complaints in different states, writes TOSIN OYEDIRAN
The president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), who said he had been “the victim of unfair electoral processes” in the past, during his last Independence Day speech as president in 2022, promised Nigerians he would guarantee a free and fair electoral process. election in the next general elections of 2023.
In summary, he was quoted as saying: “As I prepare to end our administration, I have resolved to bequeath a sustainable democratic culture that will endure. The signing of the 2021 Electoral Law, amended with historical provisions, further ensures a more transparent and inclusive vision. electoral process.”
the punch reports that the relevant efforts of critical election stakeholders led to a National Sensitization Workshop held on January 14, 2015, and gave rise to an initiative, the National Peace Committee. This committee raised the idea of getting political parties to commit to peaceful campaigns and rallies free from incitement, insults, violence, and the deployment of fake news, misinformation, and misrepresentation.
In 2019, the National Peace Committee, chaired by General Abdulsalami Abubakar (ret.), took the opportunity of the agreement to hold the candidates and their political parties accountable for their promises to accept the election result, as long as it is considered free and just. and credible. A peace pact was signed in 2019. This gesture subsequently resulted in similar initiatives not only at the federal level but also at a subordinate level: state.
Likewise, on September 29, 2022, a peace agreement was signed in preparation for the 2023 elections.
Despite all the positive resolutions from different quarters, the current political atmosphere sends a completely different message as opposition parties in some states of the country have claimed victimization by the powers that be in their respective states.
Ondo PDP vs. APC
The People’s Democratic Party in Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State accused a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Tajudeen Adefisoye, of attacking them, using some men in military uniform, on Monday night.
The PDP also alleged that the federal legislator representing the Idanre/Ifedore Federal Constituency and candidate for the All Progressives Congress paraded the alleged fake soldiers with weapons and ammunition and attacked them during their meeting in the Idanre community.
This was contained in a statement by the PDP Director of Media Publicity in local government, Mr. Fasoranti Adeyemi on Tuesday. They claimed that many of their members were injured during the attack.
According to the statement, the federal legislator, who is also vice chair of the House Army Committee, allegedly has a mobile arsenal that he moves and uses at any time.
The statement read in part: “The ‘military’ action began around 5:45 p.m. and lasted until 7:05 p.m. and destroyed a store, the scene of yesterday’s incident, where our candidate for House member , the Hon. Aderemi Oyewole was attacked and then taken to our MHA candidate’s house, she broke in and ransacked the entire house without finding any incriminating evidence.
“No amount of threats, intimidation and harassment will stop Idanre/Ifedore from voting for PDP candidates in the upcoming February/March 2023 elections. We call on the commander of the 32 Artillery Brigade to investigate these men in “ hon. Tajudeen Adefisoye, who brought them, must be questioned to explain where he got the soldiers from. Undoubtedly, the representative has a mobile armory that houses weapons and ammunition of high caliber and camouflage of the Nigerian Army”.
In his reaction, however, the embattled federal lawmaker denied the allegations, saying he did not bring soldiers into the community or attack anyone with fake soldiers.
“I did not bring soldiers to Idanre. It was the PDP candidate for the House of Representatives, Festus Akingbaso, and his supporters who attacked me. They destroyed my cars and the windshield of my car was pierced by bullets,” Olafisoye refuted.
Delta LP vs. PDP
It was also reported that the Labor Party in the state of Delta also protested when the state government denied the party a sizable venue for its presidential rally.
However, the Delta state government has said, contrary to online reports, that it has never denied Labor a venue for its presidential campaign rally in the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by the State Information Commissioner, Mr. Charles Aniagwu.
The PDP rebuked LP leader Professor Pat Utomi for making false and misleading claims that the government denied the party a place in the state for its presidential campaign.
He said: “The Labor Party creates the impression that it is being oppressed throughout this country to attract sympathy. The Labor Party did not write to us as a government to say that they were going to hold a rally in Delta. Someone as high-ranking as Professor Pat Utomi came to town to claim that they had been prevented from campaigning in Delta.
“Someone representing Professor Utomi called me on the Sunday morning before his Monday morning rally and I asked him what the issues were. He said that he would be delighted if he could give them the Arcade for their campaign. And like I said, you’re campaigning on Monday and making phone calls demanding a spot on Sunday?
“However, the state government immediately, within three minutes, contacted the Oshimili South Local Government Council and obtained a waiver of all formalities and made Arcade in Asaba available to the Labor Party to hold their presidential rally.”
The Commissioner further said that to demonstrate the democratic credentials of the state and its tolerance towards the opposition, he graciously waived the amount to be paid for the site.
Ogun LP vs. APC
Similarly, in Ogun state, LP Chairman Michael Ashade said on Tuesday that the party has no secretariat in the state capital.
This is how he alleged that two attempts to get a space for him to serve as party secretariat in Abeokuta were cut short.
Ashade said: “I can tell you two cases where we tried to get a secretariat for the party, but we were unsuccessful.
“Twice, when we wanted to have a secretariat for the party, the owners simply turned it down once they found out it was the Labor Party. We are still on the lookout.”
Meanwhile, the situation of the LP in Enugu state is a bit different, as the ruling party in the state, the PDP, has not denied them (opposition parties) the opportunity to acquire offices in the state capital. .
Enugu LP vs. PDP
Casmir Agbo, the state chairman of the Labor Party, told one of our correspondents that gagging opposition parties had become a recurring theme in Nigerian politics, particularly in Enugu state.
Agbo, however, maintained that despite his antics, his party has been able to navigate the roadblocks in Enugu state.
He said: “They started by attacking the Labor Party campaign machine last year in August. It happened in Aninri, Awgu, Nkanu East, Enugu North, Udi, Igbo-Etiti, Igbo-Eze North and Isi-Uzo, but we have been able to navigate them. And we called the security agencies (police, DSS) and they came in, and it’s actually down.
“Here in Enugu, they have not denied us having offices in the state capital, but what they now do is plant moles here and there, and we can navigate them again. We have overcome them, and we are moving forward. The other is that they tried to force the judiciary, which everyone was aware of.
“We are all aware of what happened at the Abuja Federal High Court where Judge Maha asked us to go to the primaries even when the aspirant in question does not have the locus standi to challenge that process. And last week, the appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision.”
The LP president revealed that after weathering the storm, the party is now preparing for the visit of its presidential candidate on Thursday (today).
“So, we are not disturbed by the antics of the ruling party, who we know are drowning and you know a drowning man has the floor.
“The PDP is clinging to anything that can save it, but we have blocked all our channels and are moving to take over the Enugu state government. On May 29, our candidate for governor will be sworn in and we will restore the state to normality where meritocracy and knowledge will prevail over nepotism, corruption, etc. We are tired of the poor performance of the PDP administration in Enugu State for the past 24 years.”
Efforts to speak to the Governor’s Special Adviser Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on Information and Information Supervisory Commissioner Mr. Steve Oruruo were unsuccessful as he was unable to take their calls.
The state chairman of the PDP, Chief Augustine Nnamani, was also unavailable to react, having not returned his calls at press time.
Similarly, opposition parties in the 19 northern states under the auspices of the Inter-Party Advisory Council have raised concerns about the ruling party’s attempts to crack down on their members ahead of the 2023 elections.
IPAC Chairman, who also serves as Chairman of the Social Democratic Party in Plateau State, Dogara Abubakar, lamented this in an interview with the punch in Jos, the state capital Home of Peace and Tourism, on Tuesday.
Abubakar noted that in some states, some of its members had reported that their candidates’ campaign posters, billboards and other materials were being destroyed by ruling party agents without justifiable reason, calling the situation unacceptable.
According to the IPAC president, “We have that ugly report in some states, including Borno, where some posters and billboards put up by opposition candidates were destroyed overnight by the ruling APC. We also have reports of an attack on the PDP presidential candidate after his campaign in Borno. Even the SDP complained to us that they were facing such a threat from the APC ruler in the state. So that’s the situation in the north, and we’re concerned. There is some concern, and this needs to be addressed if our democracy is to thrive.”
Gombe PDP, LP
Junaidu Abubakar, Deputy Director General for Media and Publicity, Atiku/Dan Barde Campaign Council, denounced the incessant attacks, which he described as a deliberate attempt to tie up his candidate in Gombe state, Jibrin Barde.
Abubakar noted that despite the stifling measures, his party remained certain of victory.
He said: “The APC has been sponsoring our banner destroyers all over the state. Nonetheless; my principal (Barde) will not allow young people to engage in vandalism. So far, no one has been arrested or prosecuted following the various attacks on our facilities.”
He revealed that the current administration is threatened by the growing popularity of his party and its candidates.
Additional reporting: Peter Dada, Matthew Ochei, Raphael Ede, Daud Olatunji, James Abraham, and Chima Azubuike.