By Adamu Abuh and Azimazi Momoh Jimoh
Abuja — The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday condemned an alleged secret meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, last Friday in Abuja.
PDP cautioned the INEC against succumbing to pressure to manipulate the electoral process in favour of Buhari as such could cause a serious crisis in the country.
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the party, after reviewing the rising tension and degenerating security situation in the country, charged Buhari not to allow his personal ambition to push the nation into chaos.
It said the president’s handlers who “are desperate to force him on an unwilling nation, are fast pushing the country to the brinks and should be checked before it is too late.”
PDP said its fresh caution to the INEC chairman was predicated on an alleged secret meeting he held with Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, at the Presidential villa last Friday.
The statement reads in part: “Prof. Yakubu should note that the polity is already tensed over INEC’s listing of President Buhari for election despite his failure to present the constitutionally required academic credentials like other candidates. This development casts a dark shadow on the credibility of INEC to conduct a transparent election.”
The opposition party further urged INEC to note that “Nigerians are aware that by President Buhari’s declaration, in an affidavit, that his said certificates are with the military, his nomination documentation is, therefore, constitutionally incomplete, making him ineligible to contest the 2019 Presidential elections.
“Also, by failing to write to the military authorities to release his claimed certificates, Mr. President leaves Nigerians with no option than to hold that he does not have the credentials, and the 1999 Constitution (as amended) did not provide that affidavits can be used as a substitute for any candidate’s credentials.”
To the PDP, Buhari’s affidavit also shows that he did not submit any certificate in 2015, making his candidacy for that election improper and defective under the nation’s laws.
“Prof. Yakubu must have noted the heavy public criticisms that have been trailing his provocative declaration that Nigerians should go to court over the certificate saga. His statement betrays an electoral umpire who is under threats and heavy pressure to abdicate his statutory duty of enforcing constitutional requirements for elections.”
The PDP said it believed that allowing such a siege mentality on the country’s democratic institutions to fester would surely spell doom for the country.
“Now that Nigerians have rejected President Buhari’s affidavit and insisted on his certificates, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is left with no option than to accept its self-inflicted misfortune.
“Nigerians are tired of a deceptive, dishonest and grossly incompetent Buhari administration, which has brought so much anguish and pain to our nation,” PDP said.
Meanwhile, the deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Yekini Nabena, has said the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, cannot stop Buhari’s reelection bid in the 2019 poll.
Nabena particularly pointed at President Buhari’s integrity and clean record in public service as a selling point which, according to him, the electorate would not overlook on the election day.
He said the fact that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had allegedly once described Atiku Abubakar as a disloyal and unpatriotic leader was enough to rubbish any sudden endorsement from him.
In a statement, Nabena said that Obasanjo contradicted himself when he told Nigerians that he had forgiven Atiku. He further described as pretentious the integrity and nationalistic image of the PDP’s 2019 vice presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi.
He said many world-class shopping malls allegedly owned by Obi had been springing up in various cities in Nigeria soon after he left office as Anambra State governor.
“When a supposed national leader makes declarations that are subject to change at any time based on his mood, such a leader loses his integrity and reliability.
“Nigerians cannot be deceived, we have seen them all – presidential library, Bells and American University of Nigeria, breweries and shopping malls, all established with largely public funds but privately owned by public officers,” the APC official said.