Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Ahead of the 2019 polls, Afenifere chieftain, Sen. Femi Okurounmu, has cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies not to compromise the general elections by displaying ‘needless partisanship’.
Okurounmu, gave this warning, on Thursday, in Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State at a workshop organised by the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) with the theme: ‘State of the Nation: Yoruba, where are we?’
Speaking as one of the discussants at workshop, Okurounmu said impediments to free and fair elections must be addressed in order not to impugn the sanctity of the forthcoming polls.
Okurounmu, however, enjoined Nigerians to mobilise effectively to checkmate attempts to frustrate their freedom to choose their leaders.
He also expressed concern over the conduct of the nation’s electoral body and security forces in recent elections, saying they tend to pose great threat to peaceful polls next year.
“The present INEC under Buhari is one of the most blatantly partisan ever in support of an incumbent government as the Osun State gubernatorial election has shown. Their open partisanship has given cause for concern to US, UK, EU and local election observers.
“The dominant role being played by Buhari’s niece, Amina Zakari, has completely compromised INEC and rendered it unsuitable as a referee of elections in which Buhari is a candidate. They act more like agents of the APC than as non-partisan referees.
“The APC, in its desperation to hold on to power, has resorted to an unprecedented misuse of the police, the armed forces and other paramilitary agencies of government in cahoot with local armed thugs, to intimidate the opposition away from polling stations.
“And even though INEC claims to be against the purchasing of votes from prospective voters, it looked the other way as billions of naira changed hands on election days, for example in Ekiti and Osun states.
“In the light of the above, one will be living in a fool’s paradise to be expecting anything close to free and fair elections in 2019.
“The incumbent regime is desperate to retain power at all costs and the opposition, if it is serious on winning power, must be even more resolute,” the Afenifere chieftain submitted.
In their respective remarks at the event, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, asked Yoruba people to brace up for the challenge of breeding new generation of leaders.
According to them, Yoruba nation is in dire need of new breed of politicians in the mould of the late sage and former Premier of the old Western Region, Obafemi Awolowo.
Dignitaries at the workshop included a former Oyo State Governor, Victor Olunloyo, Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aare Ona Kakanfo, Gani Adams, Prof. Banji Akintoye, Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Amb. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, Yinka Odumakin, among others.