Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State chapters of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) have lambasted the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for orchestrating all the drama against the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Mr Mike Igini.
The three groups in a joint press conference which was attended by the state chairmen of all political parties and their governorship candidates, except PDP and APC, said they decided to voice out their concern in order to preserve Nigeria’s hard-fought democracy.
The state chairman of IPAC, Rev. Aniebiet Emmanuel, who spoke for the group said they were disturbed by attempts by Senator Godswill Akpabio and the leadership of APC in Akwa Ibom State to impinge on the renowned integrity of the REC, Mr Mike Igini, due to his non-conforming stance against electoral malpractices.
“It is worthy of note that the APC echelon never raised concerns about the REC’s integrity, and only employed the mechanisation of blackmail after he refused the $3 million inducement from a high-ranking APC member (name withheld) in a failed attempt to procure his patronage in a meeting with the APC leadership, other than his official function.”
IPAC, CUPP and CNPP said the “APC sour cry is the realisation that Mr Igini’s unimpeachable reputation is already in the public domain as evident in his record of engagements at previous postings, a virtue that passes for the face of hope for the future of the nation’s declining democratic values.
“We are rather worried that APC just like other parties should be glad that there is an umpire in Igini’s mould, who is very committed to ensuring credible, free and fair election, by seeking ways of employing such reputation in the commission rather than working to have him conform, especially, in this era when Nigerians have grown an all-time-high conscious electoral consciousness.
“We are in the know that yesterday’s paid protest led by some known APC stakeholders was an attempt to blackmail the electoral umpire for refusing their advances to corroborate the outburst from the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomole, against the failed plot to conduct a staggered election in the state.”
The group asked INEC to refuse sacrificing her independence to assume appendage roles to men who rather than work for the common good of the nation, are bent on destroying what is left of the national fabrics, for their political gains.
“Let us conclude by restating our resolve to defend the nation’s democracy and principles of free choice by ensuring nothing untoward is imported in the conduct of the forthcoming election, while we promise to abide by the rules of engagement and stoutly oppose and frustrate every plot aimed at derailing the peaceful conduct of the 2019 polls,” the group said.
However, another set of party leaders called Forum of all Political Parties (in Akwa Ibom State), had held a factional press conference in which they accused INEC in the state of working with the PDP state government to rig the forthcoming elections.
“NEC has betrayed unbridled partisanship through the selection of its ad hoc staff, some of whom are drawn from the employees of the commission, contrary to extant practices and institutional requirements. Through connivance with the state government, all the ad hoc staff of the commission are made up of loyal members and supporters of the PDP,” the group said in its statement signed by 40 persons.
They appealed to the head of the commission to address their concern that the electoral umpire in the state was partisan and not capable of delivering free, fair and credible election.