Says both can’t guarantee credible polls
• FG cautions U.S. on ‘sudden’ visa to Atiku
• Minister, presidential candidate clash on ‘Jubril’
The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday called for the resignation of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mahmood Yakubu and Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris.
At its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja, National Chairman Uche Secondus said the opposition party has lost confidence in the ability of the duo to oversee the conduct of credible elections next year.
The party will not accept the outcome of a rigged exercise, Secondus insisted, warning that flawed polls would throw the nation into crises.
Senate President and Director General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council Bukola Saraki reiterated the concern, noting: “I have said it many times that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not our opponent on the ballot paper; it is the security agents that are opponents on the ballot paper. If you talk to 10 Nigerians today, they will tell you, ‘Yes, your party is popular but they will rig it.’ What does that mean? We must stand. We must stand for free and credible election. We must stand for an election where people have the right to vote.”
The party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, disclosed that if elected, his administration would enthrone a regime of strict adherence to the principles of fiscal responsibility.
According to him, “Our aim is to work very hard and collectively liberate our nation from the shackles of hunger, starvation, deprivation, bloodletting, killings and division which bedevil us today. We must all work hard to return our nation to the path of harmony, peace and progress.”
He equally restated his readiness to take on President Muhammadu Buhari in a debate on national issues.
Last week, the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) announced that a debate for presidential contenders would hold January 19, 2019. Before then, vice presidential candidates would hold their debate on December 14, 2018.
The PDP also inaugurated its presidential campaign council with Secondus emerging as chairman and Atiku as co-chairman. Former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso is co-deputy chairman while National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan is head of media and publicity.
There was a mild drama at the meeting when the ‘Jubril’ controversy surfaced. Online media has been awash with rumours that Buhari has a body double that goes by that name. Some commentators have even suggested the president is a clone.
A loud voice had suddenly punctuated Atiku’s speech with “Jubril must go!” to which the presidential candidate asked, “Which Jubril? Is it the one in Sudan or the one in Abuja?” The audience met the joke with loud laughter.
But there is nothing funny about the idea. In fact, it is “stupid and idiotic,” said Minister of Information Lai Mohammed.
He told journalists in Abuja: “The idea that a clone of the president or a body double is impersonating the president is so idiotic that no serious government will respond to it. Is it not stupid that some people would believe that the same Jubril from Sudan is in N’Djamena, the Chadian capital, where the president had gone to meet the Chadian president on how to address issues troubling the region?”
He added: “When you go to council and memos are presented, the president for instance would say, ‘I remember the Mambila power project. I have worked on the memo before as Head of State.’ The president will tell you that as Head of State in 1984, he had knowledge of the project and he will re-engage you. And some idiots would think a Jubril from Sudan would do that? It is so stupid.”
Mohammed then turned his flak on a report that the United States has granted Atiku a visa, saying: “Impression must not be created that the U.S. is endorsing one particular candidate over the other because, as you are all aware, for more than 12 years, there has been a kind of congressional bipartisan investigation of corruption against certain individuals and which made it difficult for the former vice president to secure a U.S. visa.”
He explained: “I am sure you all recall the Jefferson case, which involved the keeping of a huge amount of dollars in the fridge. This is not the making of this administration, as it has been ongoing. Our position is that if the former vice president already has a U.S. visa, we have no problem about it. But we want to warn the U.S. government not to give the impression that it is endorsing one particular candidate over the other because that is going to happen if all of a sudden the former vice president is now granted a visa.
“We are not unaware and it is also in the public domain that he has engaged the services of some lobbyists in the U.S. to facilitate the issuance of a visa for him. It is his right to do so, but we want countries to be neutral in the 2019 elections, and they should please be wary of taking any decision that can give the wrong impression that they are favouring or endorsing one candidate over the other.”