Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently withdraw nominees recently submitted to the Senate for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for allegedly being members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The President had, on July 26, sent to the upper legislative chamber 19 names believed to be politicians or previously indicted for corruption.
In a letter signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, at the weekend, SERAP said the combined effect of 1999 Constitution (as amended), Electoral Act 2022 and international laws requires that elections must be organised by a truly independent and impartial electoral body.
“Withdrawing names of those allegedly members of the APC and replacing them with people of unquestionable integrity and competence would improve the independence of INEC and promote public confidence in the appointment process,” the body said.
According to SERAP, government has a legal responsibility to promote and guarantee integrity, credibility and independence of INEC and ensure that the electoral body is free from political and other interferences.
In the memorandum copied to Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the organisation stated: “INEC is expected to maintain independence or absolute neutrality. INEC must not only be independent and impartial, but must also be seen to be independent and impartial.
“Promoting the independence of INEC, including by appointing people of unquestionable integrity and competence and who are not members of any political party as RECs, would be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office and your oft-stated promise to ensure free and fair elections in 2023.”
SERAP noted that the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which Nigeria has also ratified, requires parties to establish and strengthen independent and impartial national electoral bodies for management of elections.
BESIDES, founding APC member, Osita Okechukwu, has urged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to stop blaming the ruling party for his predicament.
He said Ayu’s “narrow political choices helped PDP to box itself irretrievable into a tight corner,” adding: “His refusal to step aside in line with his avowals leaves the impression that Ayu knows that his party cannot win the presidential election.”
Okechukwu, who is also Director General of Voice of Nigeria, told journalists, in Abuja, yesterday, that instead of “sitting down to address the various challenges confronting their party, PDP leaders are busy passing the buck and blaming the APC.”
The DG spoke against the backdrop of Ayu’s claim that the APC was fuelling the situation in PDP by orchestrating false reports on social media to further inflame passions” in the main opposition party.
Ayu’s Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Simon Imobo’Tswam, had cited posts insinuating that the PDP chair said he cannot take on a man that cannot father a child, insisting that he never made such claim.
MOREOVER, the governorship candidate in Taraba State, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, has promised to restore what he called the “lost glory” of the state if given the mandate at the forthcoming general elections.
He spoke at the weekend, while fielding questions from reporters in Jalingo.
ALSO, following the backlash that greeted same faith ticket of APC, a support movement, Ahmed Bola-Shettima Presidential Support Group has assured that the former Lagos State governor would appoint Christians to key positions of authority in his cabinet, if elected Nigeria’s President in 2023.
According to the organisation, the move would allay the fears and douse tension raised in many quarters by those opposed to Tinubu’s choice of Shettima, a Muslim like him, as a running mate.
Director-General of the group, AIG Abdulsalami Iyaji (rtd), in Abuja, urged Nigerians to focus more on good governance than religion and ethnicity at the polls.