The continued trade of words between the ruling All Progressive Congress APC and the opposition People’s Democratic Party PDP has continue to generate concern in the nation polity as the opposition PDP has lamented continuous violation of constitutional provisions of the country by the APC-led government, while alerting the international community that all is not well with the nation’s democracy.
However the party said this fear was derived from some conscious actions and inactions taken by President Muhammadu Buhari that undermine critical institutions of democracy and ostensibly set the stage for a return of dictatorial regime in Nigeria. According to PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement over the weekend, President Buhari despite claims of being a converted democrat has allowed, under his watch, incessant violation of sections of the nation’s constitution, a development that has become a huge threat to democracy and stability of the nation. Listing the violations, which have given rise to its accusations, the PDP has alleged that all is not well with Nigeria’s democratic system, following the recent appointment of the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs Amina Zakari.
The PDP maintained that the appointment of a new Chairman of the commission had enervated the commission from carrying out its functions as stipulated in part 1 of 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended, putting the electoral system under severe threat. A statement released by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, says that the intolerance of the APC and the glaring insensitivity of the present government, in spite of the outcries of well-meaning Nigerians against undemocratic leanings, raise fears about the country’s democracy. “For instance, how can this government explain the fact that a major institution of democracy like the (INEC) has been deliberately debilitated to the extent that it can no longer perform its statutory responsibility for lack of quorum?
“Nigerians are aware that before his tenure expired on June 30th, the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega wrote to President ,Buhari, intimating him of the fact that the tenure of majority of the national commissioners will expire before August, yet the President never acted, resulting in the present crisis in the commission, where more than 80% out of the statutory 13 members remain vacant, even as eleven states of the federation are also without Resident Electoral Commissioners,” the statement read. The PDP said: “We note that this anomaly is in addition to the uncertainty surrounding the controversial appointment of an Acting Chairman of INEC in the person of a national commissioner whose tenure has since expired, not minding that there is no provision for an acting chairman of INEC in our constitution.
“This development has completely enervated the commission from carrying out its functions as stipulated in part 1 of 3rd schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended, thereby putting our electoral system under severe threat. “We ask, if not for a possibility of an ulterior motive to inject a constitutional crisis and undermine the nation’s democracy, why should President Buhari wait to be urged before he upholds his responsibility of forwarding replacements to the Senate for confirmation so as to enable the commission effectively carry out its constitutional responsibilities to the nation? “Could this be a ploy by the APC-led government to use a decapitated INEC to conduct the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to pave way for their planned ‘capture’ of the two PDP states? “Is the weakening of INEC not part of the plot to use the commission to put the PDP in precarious position in various electoral tribunals to the advantage of the APC?
“Furthermore, Nigerians are witness to the undue interferences of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the activities of election tribunals in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and other PDP states, where electoral officers are being harassed, intimidated and detained, ostensibly to influence judgments against the PDP. “Similar to these are reported cases of abuse of security agencies by the APC-led government.
Of particular note is the July reprehensible sealing of Rivers state local councils by the Police, who also barred members of caretaker committees that were duly appointed by the state government to take charge of the councils following the pronouncement of the court. “The intolerance of the APC and the glaring insensitivity of this government, in spite of the outcries of well-meaning Nigerians against their undemocratic leanings, raise fears about the future of our democracy and the general health of our dear nation.
“We call on some well-meaning Nigerians who have found themselves in the APC, especially, those who at one time or the other, were pupils of the teachings and visions of the founding fathers of the PDP, to rise above the shallowness of their temporary enclave and join in this major defence of democratic ethos”. Similarly, Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has made the sam submission. According to him, President Buhari needs to tread cautiously and be mindful of the body language of those hailing him today.
The governor, who said he was aware of sinister plots to destabilise his government because of his strong and truthful stands on national issues, vowed to “continue to speak the truth no matter whose ox is gored.” Reminding the President that he is not heading a military regime, Fayose added that he could not be cowed by threats from any quarters. According to a statement issued on his behalf by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose urged Buhari to take the advice of the former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee, which told him to tread cautiously.
The statement said, “Opposition is one of the roots on which democracy stands and any President or governor that does not want opposition will eventually become a dictator. His words, “I want to state without fear or favour that I will continue to speak the truth no matter whose ox is gored. Nigeria belongs to all of us and no one can intimidate me or the good people of Ekiti State who freely and overwhelmingly gave me their mandate. “Democracy as a form of government thrives on our ability to ask questions and get answers from our leaders.” The governor urged the President to listen to wise counsel from Abubakar.
“The Peace Committee has reminded the President that he is not heading a military government and with the calibre of Nigerians in the committee, their wise counsel should not be ignored. “These are Nigerians who don’t need personal favours from the President and he should get the message very clearly that he is being told not to act as a dictator,” Fayose said. Fayose, who also advised the President to know that Nigerians were not interested in “any honeymoon,” but their well-being, added that Buhari’s achievements in his first 100 days so far were “harassment of Peoples Democratic Party leaders, appointment of his in-law and kinsmen into sensitive positions, selective fight against corruption and arrest and detention of INEC officials who worked in states won by the PDP.”
While declaring support for the fight against corruption, Fayose however noted that “fighting corruption should not be synonymous with convicting Nigerians on the pages of newspapers.” In reaction by the opposition PDP, the (APC) has warned against any attempt to truncate the ongoing fight against corruption under any guise, while also expressing total support for President Buhari’s determination to end the scourge of corruption in the country. In a statement issued in Lagos last week by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party appealed to all Nigerians, especially opinion leaders, to ensure that their actions and utterances do not give comfort to those who have looted the commonwealth. ”Our party promised Nigerians change, but the change that we promised and which Nigerians desire so much cannot be achieved if we allow the resources that belong to all Nigerians to be appropriated by a few. ”
President Buhari has promised to break the vicious cycle of corruption that has held Nigeria down. How can he do that if he allows those who have looted the treasury to escape justice, and then use their ill-gotten wealth to fight the government? How can he do that if he turns a blind eye to the monumental cases corruption in all sectors? ”We know that fighting corruption in a society where the cankerworm has eaten deep into its fabric will not be easy. We know that corruption will always fight back. But there is no other choice than to confront and destroy this monster once and for all, lest it destroys Nigeria,” it said. APC said the President’s sincerity of purpose can be seen from his statement that any of his party members who are found to be corrupt will not escape justice.
”Therefore, those who are shouting themselves hoarse by saying the Buhari Administration’s fight against corruption is selective or is a distraction are only seeking to sabotage the epic battle. But Lagos lawyer and pro-democracy activist, Ebun –Olu Adegboruwa has since sued President Buhari at the Federal High Court in Lagos over what he considers a violation of the constitution in matters of making appointment into offices for which he sought and got clearance by the Senate. According to some of the, he said: “Not long after he was sworn into office, the 1st Respondent requested the immediate past Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to grant him approval to appoint 15 special advisers and the said approval was granted to him immediately but since then, the 1st Respondent, (President Buhari) has refused and failed to appoint any person into office as his special advisers or as ministers. 31.
From all the foregoing, I verily believe that if the 1st Respondent is not prepared to appoint qualified persons into office as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he should not be allowed to continue to function in office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in flagrant violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 32. I know as a fact that the 1st Respondent once took over the affairs of Nigeria in or about 1983 and he was ruling Nigeria by force as a military dictator and I verily believe that he still has the tendency to continue to work as a lone ranger and a dictator unless he is restrained and properly guided by an order of this Honourable Court.”
-Francis Moses writes on the trending issues surrounding the nation as the opposition PDP accuses this administration of violating the constitution