Saturday, November 23, 2013

Anambra: For APC,it is fresh election or nothing – Lai Mohammed

With the governorship election in Anambra State declared inconclusive
by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and mixed
reactions trailing the outcome, the interim National Publicity
Secretary of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,
argues, in this interview, that the exercise remains irredeemably
defective. Excerpts:
The governorship election in Anambra State has come and gone…
It has not gone.
Okay it is still ongoing but while some are calling for outright
cancellation of the election, INEC has vowed to go ahead with a
supplementary election. What happens if it goes ahead with the
supplementary poll?
There are many options to be explored and such options will be
discussed at the NEC meeting of the party. But what does INEC mean by
supplementary election? The November 16 governorship election in
Anambra State is irredeemably defective. We do not understand what
INEC means by supplementary election. It is defective to the point
that it cannot be redeemed either by a supplementary election or by
election being conducted in isolated wards.
There are two reasons the November 16 election is irredeemable. One is
that the strong holds of the opposition were denied voting materials.
And this is a clear case of not just disenfranchisement but there was
sabotage as admitted by even the National Chairman of INEC. He said
a senior official of INEC sabotaged the electoral process.
We also have it on good authority that the voter register has been so
tampered with that anybody whose names start with O or U could not
find his names in the register.
With these, you cannot start talking about a supplementary election.
It is like somebody putting a potion of poison in a bucket of water.
Are you now saying that you can save part of that water? You have to
throw the whole thing away. So, I do not know what they mean by
supplementary election. As for Anambra, it has to be fresh election or
nothing and, beyond that, Nigerians want to know the name of that INEC
official, his position and how he was able to sabotage the election.
Nigerians want to know who he was working for? This matter must not be
swept under the carpet. If it is allowed to be swept under the carpet,
it will lead to an explosion which is better imagined. We hear from
the grapevine that he is working for a particular state governor and
that a lot of money has been uncovered and traced to his account. He
also indicted a particular state governor.
And you think INEC will mention the official's name?
This is now in the open and people are seriously concerned. Because
what is done is not just sabotage, it is treason and this could lead
to violent reactions on the part of people. Of course, Nigerians have
a right to know and INEC has the obligation to tell us the name of
this man and how far did he sabotage the election.
If they can do it in Anambra, it can be done in Ekiti, Osun and
everywhere. So. the problem is much more fundamental than that. Again,
it raises the issue of credibility of the register we have because if
one person can so tamper with the register, to exclude names starting
with certain alphabets, all needed to be done is just come to Osun or
Ekiti and remove some names from the register.
So, this problem is very fundamental, we cannot start talking about
supplementary elections; as a matter of fact, we should stop talking
about Anambra now, we should start talking about the integrity of the
INEC register.
Going by what has happened in Anambra, what do you think will happen
in the elections coming up in Osun and Ekiti?
Even the whole of Nigeria come 2015… If somebody in INEC can
compromise the register, so effectively, that names starting with
certain alphabets do not appear, this is a dangerous development and
we are very worried about the integrity and safety of the data.
Probably, at the end of the day, we might have to adopt another form
of election because this is a serious matter.
Like what?
Again, when our party meets, we shall decide.
Protests greeted the outcome of the election but an aide to Governor
Peter Obi has come out to say that those who protested were not from
Anambra but from outside the state…
Of what relevance is that? Is the election defective because of the
protests? Or are people protesting as a result of the defective
election? The question to ask is: Why are they protesting? Let us
assume that those who protested are from Mars or Jupiter, the question
to ask is, Was election free and fair? Did Idemili North and Idemili
South receive voting materials? Did INEC chairman admit or not that a
senior official of his commission actually sabotaged the election?
These are the issues, whether they are from Mars or Jupiter, it has no
The PDP has come out to hail the outcome of the exercise but the PDP
candidate has faulted the process, does that give your party concern?
There is a proverb in Igboland which says it is bad to steal but don't
steal for the owner to notice. This is a situation where PDP has
stolen for the owner to notice. From the statement of the factional
spokesperson for the PDP, Olisa Metuh, it is clear that the PDP
apologists are working for the success of APGA.
How else would the National Publicity Secretary of a party describe,
in superlative forms, an election, which your candidate was not
allowed to vote?
The conventional thing for any political party is for you to be in
touch with your candidate on the field and get first hand information
on how the election is going.
The candidate said it loud and clear that he was not allowed to vote,
his name was not even on the register and yet, because they had a
prepared agenda which was, as long as APC does not win, the election
is free and fair.
Now, Olisa Metuh, from the records at our disposal, lost his own ward
but, as long as APC does not win, it was okay for the prince and the
PDP. It has shown to the world what happened. This one has
What signal is this sending as we approach 2015?
Well, three things are clear: the integrity of the INEC register is
suspect from this moment on; the integrity of INEC as a whole is
suspect from this moment on and, again the 2014 and 2015 elections
should be watched because there will be huge potentials for violence.
Would you agitate for the removal of the INEC Chairman or the
restructuring of the commission?
That will be a decision that our party will take.

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