IT’S less than two weeks to the 2015 general elections. And political activities and intrigues are unfolding at jet speed.
ENCOMIUM Weekly didn’t miss any major happenstance last week.
MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2015:
MBEKI VISITS JONATHAN, BUHARI OVER 2015 ELECTIONS
Former South African President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki visited President Jonathan and the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari on Monday (March 8). Though the details of the meetings were not made known, we learnt Mbeki, who was accompanied by former Nigerian Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, discussed the forthcoming general elections with the two leading political figures.
PATIENCE JONATHAN REPLIES CRITICS, SAYS SHE HATES VIOLENCE
Also on Monday, the embattled wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan insisted she is a woman of peace. The subject of recent criticism over multiple provocative statements, Mama Peace was dragged to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the APC for alleged hate campaign.
FAYOSE ASKS BUHARI TO QUIT PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose raised political tempers again last week, when he asked the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari to jettison his political aspiration.
He hinged his call for Buhari’s resignation on the many lies of the party and their presidential candidate.
“In a saner clime, you can’t lie and be discovered to have lied repeatedly as done by the APC and still want to stand for elections.”
TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2015:
PDP GOVERNORS TAKE ON BUHARI RAP INEC
Members of the PDP Governors Forum stormed Lagos on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. And breaking silence on the many issues arising from the campaigns of the political parties, they dressed down the opposition, assuring the public they are still very much in charge.
From the PDPGF chairman, who is also Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, to the unofficial party spokesman, and Ekiti Governor, Ayodele Fayose, “the many lies and antics of the opposition” was exposed by the forum.
The governors who also berated INEC chairman for ill-preparation for the 2015 elections, the use of Card Readers and other issues related to the distribution of the PVCs and test run of the Smart Card Readers, made their position known.
The PDP governors met with civil society groups and the media.
PDP KICKS AGAINST CARD READERS
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some of their supporters have also kicked against the use of Card Readers for the 2015 general elections.
One of the groups, the PDP Integrity Vanguard led by Senator Aniete Okin expressed reservation over INEC’s distribution of PVCs.
Meanwhile, the party has written INEC on its position on the PVC and Card Readers. According to the PDP National Working Committee, the electoral body has to explain why there is no uniformity in the identification of PVCs by the Card Readers, displayed across the country. The party also noted that the setting of the Card Readers can affect its speed. The party’s Deputy National Chairman, Uche Secondus stated: “From our perspective, the Card Reader has three major elements…the low, the medium and high sensitivity settings. The high sensitivity setting makes accreditation very difficult, while the low setting makes it very easy. So, we believe this is a default that INEC must look into. The difference in sensitivity setting will make accreditation easier in some places, while it would be difficult for others, considering the fact that the time frame stipulated by law for accreditation is uniform across the country.”
ATIKU DENIES DUMPING APC
Former presidential candidate of the APC, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has denied the rumour of decamping to the ruling PDP. He said his commitment to the party and the success of its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and other candidates of the party, remained unwavering and had never been up for bargaining.
“I have backed my words and commitment with my resources to ensure I bring my influence and support to bear on our party’s march to victory at all levels in the general elections. That should be enough to shut up all mischief-makers bent on derailing the APC’s success at the March 28 and April 11 elections,” the former Vice President said in a statement.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2015:
BUHARI DIDN’T SIGN ONE TERM PACT
The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation has dismissed claims by the Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, that there is a pact that General Buhari would serve one term if he wins the March 28 presidential election.
The campaign organization, in a statement signed by its Director of Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said Aliyu’s allegation is a “figment of his imagination, jaundiced, ill-motivated and irresponsible.”
Garba went on to call the governor unprintable names.
BUHARI STORMS KADUNA FOR VOTES
General Buhari, who recently returned from a working tour of the United Kingdom, stormed Kaduna for a grand rally. And greeted by a mammoth crowd, the APC presidential candidate pledged to stamp out corruption if elected president.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2015:
SENATE CONFIRMS OBANIKORO MINISTER
Amidst stiff opposition by the APC senators, the PDP ministerial nominee and former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro was finally cleared by the Senate. The fear of the opposition is that the two-time Lagos guber aspirant would use his position to facilitate manipulation of elections in the South West.
IBB DENIES INTERIM GOVERNMENT PLOT
Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has distanced himself from the alleged plan to establish an Interim Government in the country.
IBB who made this known in a statement, said the political climate that necessitated the formation of an interim government in 1993 is not tenable now.
Interestingly, IBB also commended INEC and its leadership. He went on to support the introduction of Card Readers, arguing we are in a digital era.
JONATHAN CONSULTS GEN. DANJUMA
President Goodluck Jonathan and General Theophilus Danjuma met behind closed doors on Wednesday. After the meeting, the one-time Minister of Defence said their deliberations were personal and ‘confidential.’
Observers said Jonathan probably invited the retired war general to solicit his support since many alleged he has sympathy for Buhari. Very critical of militants supporting the President, General Danjuma is the Chairman, Committee on Victims Support Fund.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015:
AWUJALE DISAPPOINTS JONATHAN
The Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, on Thursday, rejected an overture to endorse President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term.
Awujale, who hosted Jonathan rather urged him to present his programmes to the people of Ijebu for them to form their opinion on whether to vote for him or not.
“In Ijebu, it is not possible for any Oba, not only in Ijebu, but Yorubaland, to get out and say vote for this or vote for that. Whoever does that is looking for trouble. But give the candidate the opportunity to present his programme so that people can make up their mind on what to do. I think this is a very sound democratic principle and that is what I have decided to do, to give you the opportunity of meeting with the people.”
Oba Adetona, who told the President that his guests are not politicians also noted that the forthcoming election is quite complicated.
“…this election is full of tension. I don’t know why it is so, elections have never been like this. In about 55 years, I have never seen any election that is full of tension than the one we are having now. My prayer is, God should guide us and make sure there is peace, harmony and tranquility in the country.”
PDP CHAIRMAN, ADAMU MU’AZU OFFERS TO RESIGN
The National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu said he is doing his best to ensure President Goodluck Jonathan’s victory in the 2015 presidential election. Mu’azu is being criticized for not doing enough to sell the candidature of the President in the North, his political base.
He is also receiving knocks for not speaking against the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari.
The PDP chairman, who was said to be facing sack threats offered the clarification through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Tony Amadi.
Relatedly, rumours had it that Mu’azu had been in the bad books of the president for urging his party supporters to restrain from abusing the former Head of State and the North at large.
Insiders further alleged he opted to resign on Thursday, March 12, instead of joining the ongoing personal insults being churned out to force Buhari out of the presidential race.
JONATHAN, BUHARI RETURN TO LAGOS
The two leading presidential candidates in the 2015 general elections, President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari were in Lagos on Thursday. While Jonathan continued with his consultation with critical stakeholders in the South-West. From Ijebuland, Ogun State where the President and his entourage moved to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos, Jonathan called for support.
Buhari also held a couple of town hall meetings with youths and APC chieftains in Lagos that same day.
The APC flagbearer flew in from Rivers State and left for Kaduna same night.
INEC DISTRIBUTES 55,904,272 PVCs
– HITS 81.22 PER CENT
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has distributed 55,904,272 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as at Thursday, March 12, 2015.
Further breakdown of PVC collection showed that the North West leads with 15,998,060. About 8,984,946 PVCs have been distributed in the South-West while the South-South region has collected 8,366,065 PVCs.
North-East zone has 7,732,653 PVCs, so far even as North-Central and the South-East have collected 6,618,814 and 6,615,934 PVCs, respectively.
Interestingly, over 12.9 million PVCs have not yet been collected. INEC official figures gives the percentage of PVC collection across the six geo-political zones as follows: North-West (92.63 per cent); South-East (85.63 per cent); North-East (85.54 per cent); South-South (83.79 per cent); North-Central (76.22 per cent) and South-West (66.34 per cent).
FRIDAY, MARCH 13:
APC, PDP IN WAR OF WORDS OVER LEKKI ROBBERY, INTERIM GOVT
It has been war of words between the opposition APC and the ruling PDP.
It actually started with Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), accusing President Goodluck Jonathan of causing the death of three policemen and others after a deadly armed robbery attack in Lekki, Lagos, on Thursday. Fashola claimed the police would have repelled the attack if they were not deployed to protect the President who was in the state.
The next day, Friday, March 13, 2015, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati promptly replied Fashola, saying his statement was irresponsible and callous.
Also responding to the statement made by the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, to the effect that Jonathan wanted him to be Vice President in a planned Interim Government, the Presidency said that was absurd and impossible.
“Except people have not been following the news or they have chosen willfully to play deaf and dumb, they will know and the facts are there that President Jonathan has said again and again that an idea of an interim government is preposterous and to use his exact word, also treasonable. And that he has never anywhere discussed that idea with anybody and he has never proposed it at any forum,” Dr. Abati said in Abuja on Friday, March 13, 2015.
MASSOB MARCHES AGAINST JEGA
On Friday, March 13, 2015, members of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) staged a protest in the South-East, calling for the resignation of the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega.
Obviously politically motivated, the Biafran group went round major Igbo cities shouting “Jega must go.”
Although not without confrontation with security agencies, the protesters ‘invaded’ the five states of the South-East and Delta State, to press home their demand.
MASSOB also threatened to disrupt the general elections if the INEC chairman did not quit. The protest took place in Asaba, Delta State, Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi in Anambra State as well as in Owerri (Imo), Abakaliki (Ebonyi), Aba and Umuahia, Abia State.
MASSOB alleged Jega is planning to rig the presidential election in favour of APC’s Buhari.
SATURDAY, MARCH 14:
PDP RECRUITS FIVE MILLION VOLUNTEERS FOR JONATHAN
The Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), in collaboration with the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, has launched a five-million volunteer group for President Jonathan.
The volunteers would commence door-to-door campaign for the PDP presidential candidate, according to TAN’s Director of Media, Barrister Afam Ilounoh.
NO WORD FROM INEC
The outcome of the meetings the INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega had with state Resident Electoral Commissioners was not made public until we went to press.
INEC also didn’t release the result of the test-run of the Card Readers conducted in 12 states of the federation.