PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, has lampooned the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), accusing it of masterminding the postponement of the February 14 and 28 elections.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, General Buhari, however, called on his supporters to remain calm and resolute, urging them to avoid violence. Buhari warned that the new dates must be sacrosanct, warning that any further delay will be resisted by the party.
He said: “Following the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the 2015 general elections by six weeks, I wish to appeal for utmost restraint and calm by all Nigerians, especially the teeming supporters of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“This postponement, which comes on the heels of the bogey of the National Security Adviser that half of the registered voters were being disenfranchised was exposed as a crude and fraudulent attempt to subvert the electoral process. The PDP administration has now engineered a postponement using the threat that security will not be guaranteed across the length and breadth of Nigeria because of military engagement in some states in the North-East.
“It is important to note that although INEC acted within its constitutional powers, it is clear that it has been boxed into a situation where it has had to bow to pressure. Thus, the independence of INEC has been gravely compromised.”
Buhari said he shared in the disappointment of Nigerians. He equally stated that the electoral umpire had been compromised by succumbing to the blackmail of the military as an excuse to postpone the elections.
“As a Nigerian and a presidential candidate in the elections, I share in the disappointment and frustration of this decision. This postponement coming a week to the first election has raised so many questions, many of which shall be asked in the days ahead. However, we must not allow ourselves to be tempted into taking actions that could further endanger the democratic process. Our country is going through a difficult time in the hands of terrorists. Any act of violence can only complicate the security challenges in the country and provide further justification to those who would want to exploit every situation to frustrate the democratic process in the face of certain defeat at the polls. If anything, this postponement should strengthen our resolve and commitment to rescue our country from the current economic and social collapse from this desperate band. Our desire for change must surpass their desperation to hold on to power at all cost. We are clearly dealing with people who feel they can get away with placing their personal interest over those of our nation and its citizens.
“What is at stake is the very survival of our country. We must not allow this temporary delay to abort this great opportunity. While I share the pains and frustrations of my fellow citizens over this development, my deep faith in the democratic process assures me that this country, with your support, will overcome.
“We must remain resolute and rise above all provocations. We must continue to trust in the entire democratic process and in INEC, which has been brought under so much pressure in the last few days. Our trust can only serve to encourage the electoral body to remain steadfast and remain committed to the rule of law. I wish to state strongly that our party will not tolerate any further interference with the electoral process. The rescheduled elections of March 28 and April 11, 2015 must be sacrosanct.”
The presidential candidate reminded the gathering that Nigeria is greater than everyone, hence must be protected from the hands of saboteurs. “Nigeria is definitely greater than any of us, and much more important than our individual ambitions. Before us there was Nigeria, and long after we are gone, there will still be Nigeria. Let us continue to do our part to make it the great country that it should be. We must rescue our dear country. God, being on our side, we shall salvage Nigeria together.”
He also spoke briefly on the outcome of the meeting INEC had with them at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, at the weekend. According to him, INEC said it was ready to conduct elections and wondered why the sudden U-turn.
“INEC gave us a comprehensive report of their readiness. They said they were ready. Then the military wrote them that they cannot provide security. That is how INEC has been compromised. If in five years the military cannot salvage the situation, will they do it in six weeks what they could not do in six years? Elections must hold 30 days before handing over. This is INEC’s last card.”