Chairman of the Steering Committee of the CUPP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who briefed journalists in Abuja, said the briefing was called to alert Nigerians on the dangerous schemes of the ruling APC to plunge the nation into an avoidable crisis with its grand plan to rig the February, 2019 elections.
The CUPP, however, said the opposition would make it impossible for the APC to plunge the nation into chaos with its plans to use raw state power to rig the elections and give itself undeserved victory in the coming polls.
“You are all familiar with the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law. You are equally aware of the reasons he gave – one of which is the ECOWAS Protocol which he said is against amendments to electoral laws six months to an election. We find it funny that our president was quick to cite that law, while conveniently ignoring very important proviso which negates his excuse.
“For the avoidance of all doubts, Article 2(1) of the ECOWAS Protocol says in clear terms that amendments to electoral laws could be done, but such amendments must be ‘with the consent of a majority of political actors.’ Why did the president ignore this provision while using the other to refuse to sign the bill into law in preparation for a grand electoral heist in 2019?
“We want to remind Nigerians that the amendments were made in order to have better legal frameworks for delivery of very free and fair elections in accordance with Article 6 of the ECOWAS Protocol which states that: ‘The preparation and conduct of elections and the announcement of results shall be done in a transparent manner.’
“We all know that the introduction of card readers in the 2015 elections made a lot of positive difference. However, the Supreme Court has noted the lack of legal backing for the use of the card readers in elections in Nigeria. That fact informed the decision to amend the law and make the use of card readers compulsory in elections to ward off impersonators and blatant writing of concocted election results. We have already been told that 13.5 million persons voted in 2015 without card reader accreditation and 75 percent of them in President Buhari’s then stronghold.
“We, therefore, see the president’s decision not to sign the bill as a direct, open threat to the integrity of the elections and it is not funny. We call on him, therefore, to have a rethink and sign the bill into law without any further delay,” CUPP said.
CUPP further said it was even surprised that President Buhari could cite the ECOWAS Protocol as a basis for his decision not to sign the bill into law.
It said this is the same President who has repeatedly disobeyed orders made by the ECOWAS court which is a product of the same protocol.
“But, he is relying on the protocol now because he believes it serves his ambition to win the coming elections at all costs.
“We appeal to the international community to let the president know that nothing short of free and fair elections would be acceptable and accepted next month. The APC has been a lawless party and we are aware of its plans to unleash that lawlessness on the nation during the elections. This country needs peace and we as the opposition, will make it impossible for the APC to plunge the nation into chaos with its plans to use raw state power to rig the elections and give itself undeserved victory in the coming polls. We promise to engage, ‘bumper to bumper,’ anyone who wants to rig the elections.
“We also deplore the tardiness and the lack of political will on the part of President Buhari to make far reaching and long overdue re-organisation of the security architecture of the country. This, especially, is a key reason for the deteriorating conditions of the nation’s security, especially the fight against terrorism,” CUPP further said.
CUPP specifically asked President Buhari to read what the ECOWAS Protocol says on the role of armed forces and the police in elections.
“Article1(e) of the Protocol clearly states that the armed forces “must be apolitical.” It also forbids governments from deploying these forces against political rivals. That provision is being, breached daily by the APC Federal government which is jittery because of an impending electoral defeat which, by God’s grace, will be their lot next month.
“We therefore call on President Buhari to quickly restore Nigerians’ confidence in the armed forces by injecting fresh blood into the leadership of the military and curbing the excesses of the police which have been too involved in politics to the point of arresting vocal Nigerians on phantom charges and even aiding the disruption of National and state houses of Assembly by hoodlums,” CUPP also said.
The CUPP added that the security and armed forces needed to be re-invented, saying that the current service chiefs have worked very hard and have given a very good account of themselves.
“However, there is no one in this world who can deliver forever. That is why the system set a limit for service for all in public and even, in private service. lf there are persons serving as service chiefs who should have retired, they should be allowed to go so that fresh persons with fresh ideas can come and win the Boko Haram war for Nigeria. The president recently claimed that he is keeping the service chiefs because he didn’t want competing ambitions to affect the security system. We are surprised that Gen. Buhari could say that given the fact that he knows that competition and healthy rivalry is a culture in the military.
“Every officer knows that competition for space in a very healthy manner starts right from the academy and continues throughout the service of officers. That is why we say ‘soldier go, soldier come, barrack remain.’ No one can be good forever. Keeping in office, persons who should have long gone on retirement is suspicious and counter-productive at the same time. We suspect that the plan is to use them for the coming elections and this is manifesting already in the introduction of intimidation measures such as Operation Python Dance being launched in all states of the federation even when there is no security emergency to warrant such a drastic measure,” the CUPP added.
It also said it is becoming increasingly clear that while the opposition, and indeed, a majority of Nigerians are preparing for elections next month, the APC is preparing for rigging.
“That was why its presidential candidate who is the incumbent president refused to append his signature to a bill that would give the electoral process integrity and credibility. They are even reportedly planning what they described as low-key campaigns while they plot how to insulate their candidate from campaigning and debating with opponents and tell Nigerians why they must trust him with their lives for another four years.
The CUPP, however, is calling on Nigerians, civil society organizations and the international community to be more involved in the process leading to the coming elections.
“As for us, the CUPP, we have resolved that with God and the people behind us, we will remain firm, up and doing and resolute going forward. The spirit of a new Nigeria has been born and is already at work. The election of February 16, 2019 will show clearly whether Nigeria belongs to the Nigerian people or to the party of buccaneers and political merchants called the APC. The die is cast,” the CUPP declared.