……says results credited to Buhari, others worrisome
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—–A coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, under the aegis of The Situation Room, on Wednesday, said it was deeply worried about figures the All Progressives Congress, APC, and other political parties bandied as number of votes their presidential candidates secured at primaries.
The group, which described some the figures as “outrageous”, said its summation was that most of the party primaries were merely a sham.
It will be recalled that the APC had at the end of its primary poll, declared that President Muhammadu Buhari garnered over 14million votes to clinch its presidential ticket.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the CSOs, in a statement that was read by the Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Center, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, insisted that primaries of most political parties were characterized by vote buying, intimidation, imposition of candidates and violence.
The Situation Room urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to stay resolute in applying the rules, saying its decisions to reject lists from political parties who failed to make timely submission must be strictly applied across board
The statement read: “The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room followed closely the recently concluded primaries by political parties in Nigeria.
“Upon a review of the conduct of the candidate selection process of the various political parties in the country, we are very concerned that the process falls far below democratic standards.
“The Situation Room is concerned that political parties have failed to comply with the spirit and letter of electoral laws and the Constitution consequently also failing to strengthen the democratic space for inclusivity and participation by their members and citizens in choosing candidates for elections.
“The Situation Room is also deeply concerned about the brazen disregard of democratic principles by most of the political parties.
“Media reports and observation by CSOs across the country show that the political party primaries process was characterized by vote buying, intimidation, imposition of candidates and violence.
“The outrageous numbers bandied by one of the major political parties as figures for electing its Presidential Candidate is very worrying. The exceedingly inflated number of Millions of votes announced for the affirmation of their presidential candidate has no basis in facts or reality.
“Some other of the major parties conducted their primaries in ways that raise significant credibility questions, including the use of money.
“Our summation is that most of the party primaries were merely a sham.
“Across the political parties, women have been complaining about how the process undermined their prospects of competing on level grounds.
“There are allegation of intimidation and hostility against some female candidates. The fact that there is no progressive affirmative action for women in political parties is worrying.
“Political parties in Nigeria continue to pose significant challenges to the consolidation of democracy in the country. By their actions in the primaries, the parties have shown scant regard for process or respect for the voting Nigerian people.
“The lack of the democratic process in nominating candidates impacts on the choices people have on the election day. It creates tension in the country and diminishes faith in the democratic process.
“The list of assassinations and violent attacks following the primaries is a clear indication that the process was fundamentally flawed.
“We call on political parties to respect their internal processes, provide avenue for credible redress of grievances following the primaries and commit to free, fair and credible elections in February 2019. Nigerians should judge the political parties by their commitment to law and order especially in their internal party affairs.
“INEC must stay resolute in applying the rules. Its decisions to reject lists from political parties who failed to make timely submission must be strictly applied across board. This primary season provides a good opportunity for INEC to reinforce its credibility and dedication to applying rules.
“The Situation Room will continue to follow the election process closely and will not hesitate to call out any group or individuals whose actions is capable of undermining the election process”.