The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has warned that any attempt to rig the July 14 gubernatorial election in Edo State will trigger a chain of cataclysmic reactions, the end of which no one can predict.
In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the warning became necessary in view of the desperation of the People Democratic Party, PDP, to capture Edo State at all cost, first as a trophy for its new chairman who is bent on ensuring his party wins the first election under his chairmanship, and also as a foothold for the President’s presumed ambition for 2015.
It said events leading to the election had shown that the PDP was bent on creating an atmosphere that would be hostile to the holding of a free, fair and transparent poll.
ACN, therefore, called on its members and supporters in Edo State to resist any attempt by the PDP to rig the forthcoming poll, saying they must not only turn out en masse to vote for Governor Adams Oshiomhole, on the basis of his performance in office, but must also stay behind until the votes had been counted and the result announced, contrary to the ‘vote and go’ rigging strategy of the PDP.
It said: “In the years since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, the PDP has evolved from bare-faced rigging on election day to a new system in which the ruling party, in collusion with malleable and unpatriotic security agencies, makes free and fair elections impossible by intimidating the opposition and instigating violence ahead of voting, thus paving the way for the imposition of a ‘curfew’ on election day that will ensure voters only come out to vote and return home, handing the PDP and its cohorts in INEC and security agencies a carte blanche to determine the outcome of the voting.
“Already, the trend is glaring: At least two attempts have been made on the life of Gov. Oshiomhole, first when a truck rammed into his convoy and killed many after narrowly missing him, and then last week when suspected political thugs attacked the governor, top government officials and ACN stalwarts in Usen town. Add that to the cold-blooded killing of the Governor’s Principal Private Secretary, Olaitan Oyerinde, and the evil machinations against the governor and his party begin to manifest.
‘’The strategy is simple: Go after the governor and scare off his teeming supporters, and then hope they will fight back, thus precipitating chaos that will then be capitalized upon by the PDP federal government to declare a curfew, at best, and a state of emergency, at worst.”
But while we urge our members and supporters to be peaceful and to resist playing into the hands of the PDP, they must be vigilant, they must know that it is against the Electoral Act for anyone to ask them to leave the polling station after voting. They must not leave until the votes have been counted and the results announced,’’ the party said.
ACN said what happened in 2011 must not be allowed to repeat itself, when gullible international observers, after witnessing a seemingly orderly process in which patriotic voters queued and cast their votes, then returned to their hotels to declare the elections free and fair, without witnessing the events at the collation centres where most of the rigging took place.
The party said the PDP is even more emboldened to manipulate elections now, knowing full well that it has almost emasculated the judiciary, which gave respite to some of the candidates who were robbed in the previous elections, and also because it has muscled through a constitutional amendment that prevents robbed candidates from getting justice after 180 days.
It advised President Goodluck Jonathan to pull the brakes on the runaway rigging train of his party before it derails the nation’s democracy under his watch.
‘’If the PDP is as popular and acceptable to Nigerians as it claims,why is it afraid of a free and fair election? If President Jonathan believes his party is the only truly national party that can meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, why is he unwilling to call his party to order now that it is bent on pushing the nation into the abyss of violence through election rigging?’’ ACN queried.