From Fred Itua, Abuja
Coalition of Independent Observers (The Situation Room), has alleged that a cabal within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is plotting to undermine Nigeria’s democracy using autocratic means.
The coalition which advised that there is a need for a shift in attitude in the APC, made the allegations in Abuja. It declared that the concept of internal democracy is effectively dead in the ruling party.
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Speaking on behalf of the Coalition, Abdullahi Bilal, an executive director told newsmen that every well meaning Nigerian who loves democracy should be worried about the happenings in the APC, adding the time to watch from the sidelines as spectators was over and Nigerians should get involved.
“Nigerians have been following the unfolding events in the All Progressive Party (APC) with keen interest. The essence of this briefing today is to call for a shift in attitude and response to what is happening in the APC, it is time to move from treating the party’s crisis as a spectator event as the consequences of what is going on in APC would impact all citizens. When those behind these problems are done with the APC they would invariably turn on Nigeria.
“Elections, whether general or party primaries, are important processes that differentiate democracy from autocracy and dictatorships. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) went comatose when certain individuals eradicated internal democracy in that party and resolved into brazen dictators.
“The APC has been placed on this trajectory in recent months and we fear that if nothing is done to reverse the situation, it would not matter what the electorate decide to do during the 2023 General Elections, those eradicating internal democracy in the APC would come out to ensure that votes do not count.
“We had a taste of how these people behave going by the way they insist on holding the APC elective national convention without meeting statutory conditions stipulated in the Electoral Act and the party’s own constitution”, the Coalition said.”
The Coalition warned that the anti-democratic tendencies of the political class in its desperate attempts to control the levers of power is making coup d’etat an increasingly fashionable option.
“Our fear about the prospects of Nigeria descending into full blown dictatorship is coalescing into reality owing to a return to an era where coups are now considered fashionable. We are witnesses to how El-Rufai, acting with a handful of other unrepentant dictators, purportedly claimed to have removed the Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni and replaced him with his Niger state counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello.
“Gentlemen of the press, while it is worrisome that a cabal came out to claim it has removed Buni from office without recourse to the law and processes, what should put the fear of God into all of us is the fact that El-Rufai and his co-travelers have the audacity to insist that what they want is what must happen irrespective of its illegality.
“It is their own way of reminding us that they have always lived above the law and they have no plan of ever being law abiding”, the Coalition alleged,” it said.
The Coalition however commended the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its steadfastness, saying that the Commission needs the support of all democrats to enforce the rules.
“We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has so far stood its ground and insisted that it will not recognize any leadership of the CECPC that did not emerge through recognized processes.
“It affirmed that it is only the signatures of Buni as CECPC chairman and Senator John Akpanudoedehe it will recognize for correspondences with the APC. It has also insisted on being given the statutory notices, especially the 21 day-notice of intent to hold a national convention, for it to be able to monitor the event in accordance with the law.
“This singular act of patriotism by INEC has given a lifeline to democracy in Nigeria but the threat to our freedom of choice as a people has not disappeared but only hibernating as El-Rufai and his associates returned to the drawing board to design fresh evils against democracy in Nigeria.
“We have reliably learnt that those in INEC that did not allow the cabal to have its way “would be dealt with to teach a lesson”. They are planning to drop as many INEC Commissioners that sided with the law against illegality. Their resolve is to find trump up charges to use as basis to replace these commissioners.
“They are also planning to force a massive internal reshuffle on the Commission so that stooges that are loyal to them will take over Political Parties Monitoring. These are being planned so that future illegalities they have in mind can sail through unchallenged.
“The Coalition of Independent Observers is therefore urging and appealing to Nigerians to rally behind INEC in show of support so that the cabal will not take away that Commission’s resolve to stand on the side of truth.
“INEC would then be coerced to into recognizing the forged letter and on the strength of that reverse its earlier stance that it has not been properly issued the statutory 21-day notice of intent to hold a national convention. Certain staff of the Commission have been promised juicy postings for them to accept responsibility for not properly filing the letter when it purportedly arrived on time.
“It is on the strength of this ploy that the El-Rufai faction of the party is pushing ahead with the convention even though it has not met the conditions necessary to do so.
“In clear terms, a faction of the APC led by Nasir El-Rufai is about to commit forgery in addition to the serial violation of the Electoral Act that it has already committed.
“We are aware that they have also commissioned a media team to launch a campaign of calumny against INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as part of a plot to remove him from the position for daring to assert INEC’s independence with the manner he rejected the change in CECPC leadership”, the Coalition further alleged.