Editor's note: Lagos-based political affairs analyst, Okechukwu Nwanguma, writes on the recent allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) concerning the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accusing the main opposition party of resorting to panic, mischief and blackmail.
For the umpteenth time, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has cast a slur on the integrity and credibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu. This time, the PDP has pointedly accused the electoral body and its leadership of conniving and plotting with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the 2019 general election by allocating votes to the ruling party and its presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari.
On several occasions, the PDP and in particular its strongman and major financier, Governor Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state, have accused the electoral body of lacking credibility and of planning to rig elections in favour of APC.
Before this time, the bases for Wike and PDP’s constant tirade against INEC have been that the electoral management body is manipulating the continuous voter registration exercise with a view to compromising the voters register and that the electoral management body is complicit in alleged incidents of underage voting, particularly, in Kano and Katsina states.
This time, the PDP has introduced a new element and a new dimension to its string of frivolous reasons for constantly hurling unfounded accusations at INEC and Professor Yakubu. This time PDP’s allegation is that INEC is “plotting to sneak in 30,000 illegal polling units.” It said, quite laughably, that “its investigation revealed INEC’s intention to allocate votes to the APC and its presidential candidate.”
Notably, INEC responded by stating that although it has been under pressure to create additional polling units, and although it has the powers under the law to create new polling units as it deems fit, yet, it has no plan to create 30,000 polling units in the country as alleged by the PDP.
But this is what opposition has come to mean in Nigeria. PDP is toeing a familiar path with its infantile antics. Any keen watcher of politics in Nigeria will be familiar with this hoax. I recall that when PDP was the ruling party and APC was in the opposition, the APC was, like the PDP today, on the prowl and on the offensive, hurling all manner of accusations at the electoral body. Now the two parties have exchanged roles. It’s PDP’s turn to play to the gallery this time.
It would appear that when an opposition party is not sure of its fate in coming elections, it resorts to panic, mischief and blackmail. PDP is frustrated at its failure to warm itself back to Nigerians and it is expressing its frustrations by raising false alarms, assailing the electoral body with malignant and malicious allegations. PDP’s latest allegations against INEC, like the previous ones are baseless and lacking in substance. They are as wide as they are preposterous, devoid of credibility and the slightest proof.
If PDP’s claims are, as they stated, based on investigation, the PDP should be able to name who conducted the investigation and who the ‘compromised officials of the commission and certain agents of the presidency and APC’ who have been holding series of clandestine meetings are. At least, we know that the INEC chairman has the reputation of not tolerating misbehaviour by INEC officials and has been handing over for investigation, INEC officials accused of or involved in electoral misconduct. The case of Rivers state is too fresh in our memories to be forgotten. The PDP should also mention the location or venue of the alleged series of clandestine meetings and specify the particular ‘remote areas’ where INEC plots to ‘sneak in’ the 30,000 illegal poling units.
The INEC chair has vowed at several forums that he is determined to ensure that the 2019 general elections would be better than 2015 and that he is conscious of history. He has repeatedly explained and constantly updated Nigerians on the efforts he is making to address the problems plaguing the continuous voter registration exercise. There is yet no reasonable ground to doubt him or question his credibility. His track record speaks for him.
PDP is simplistic and characteristically crying wolf. Its shenanigans are understandably aimed at stampeding INEC and inciting the voting public against the electoral body so that when it loses elections, it would blame it on INEC and say ‘we said so.’
Even if Nigerians have rejected Buhari and the APC as the PDP also claims, what makes the party think that it represents the option or alternative to Nigerians? Nigerians are not deceived by the PDP’s antics. Nigerians rejected PDP in 2015 and will reject it again. Indeed, APC has failed Nigerians, but it is not for the PDP to pontificate to Nigerians on integrity, an attribute it is not possessed of. PDP can’t be the party to be accusing INEC of plotting to rig elections, an act that was its trademark during its 16 years of waste and mismanagement of the country’s fortune. It will amount to shameless hypocrisy!
PDP’s desperation is becoming increasingly clearer, especially after it purported to have confessed its utter failures and apologised to Nigerians. This latest one is part of its desperate machination to warm itself back to Nigerians. Wike, who single-handedly funded the party primaries that led to the emergence of the current chairman of the party, is no doubt in total control of the party and the party leadership is simply doing his bidding. He had to get the party leadership this time to be the one making the frivolous accusation so that it would not seem like it’s only him who is seeing what others are not seeing.
PDP’s antics is diversionary because we are also aware of allegations that certain agents of the party in Rivers state loyal to Wike hijacked the voter registration process to ensure that the equipment are stationed only in areas where the party has dominant presence. PDP should stop distracting INEC and face its own self-imposed predicament. It cannot regain its loss of public trust by continually assailing and distracting INEC.
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