APC to shun BON-organised TV debates
•Presidency, party differ over alleged plot to scuttle polls
•PDP accuses opposition of inciting Nigerians
•Jonathan, Buhari campaign in Adamawa, Taraba, Edo, Oyo
CITING alleged bias, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday stated that it would not participate in electioneering debates on national television and radio being organised by the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).
The party also accused the Presidency of plotting to procure court judgment aimed at scuttling next month’s general elections.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation denied the charge and accused the APC of whipping up sentiments and inciting violence ahead of the polls.
Meanwhile, both parties presidential candidates intensified their quest for votes, campaigning in four states.
The APC Presidential Campaign Council (APCPCO) justified the boycott, saying it was due to what it termed “ the unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme, against the corporate political interest of the party (APC) and its candidates.”
A statement in Abuja by Director, Media and Publicity of the APCPCO, Malam Garba Shehu, claimed that the exercise being organized by Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) was fraught with fundamental errors from the outset, “by wearing the toga of government control, especially being composed mainly of agencies and allies of the incumbent PDP administration.”
It stated: “A salutary inspection of the composition of NEGD brings into focus the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), National Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Africa Independent Television (AIT, owned by a PDP chieftain). And going by the avalanche of inflammatory statements, misinformation and blatant lies being propagated by some of these media against our party and candidates contrary to the Koffi Annan-brokered Abuja Peace Accord, and the failure of these aggressors to desist and apologise, have left the APC Campaign with no option than to steer clear of any premeditated smear campaign that could be inimical to our prospective electoral success.”
The APCPCO spokesman further explained that the boycott by the APC should not be seen as disrespect to Nigerian voters, or an alibi for the party to dodge public scrutiny; but it must be viewed as an honourable right not to consent to any activity that could distract, demean, denigrate or derail the fast-moving train of the party.
“We are not shadow-chasers or moonwalkers. The APC is concerned mainly with the lack of unity and security in Nigeria; plus the growing decimation of lives, property and territory of our great country due to preventable insurgency; the slumbering economy; decaying educational system; absence of jobs; poor public health; and the cancerous institutionalisation of corruption in our national life.”
A statement by APCPCO yesterday also claimed that it has it on good authority that the kernel of the plan is to use the subterfuge of the frivolous litigation by some people to get a court pronouncement (from one of the Presidency’s pliable Judges) to the effect that Buhari lied under oath in saying that the military had his certificate, whereas, the military had denied being in possession of the certificate.
According to Shehu, the counter-arguments by the APC’s candidate’s counsel would not matter because the particular Federal High Court Judge has been prepared to do a dirty hatchet job.
The APC revealed it is their calculation that this wicked pronouncement of disqualification of the APC candidate shall precipitate spontaneous violent protests across the country.
Shehu said this scenario will then make President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP candidate in the 2015 general election, to declare a six-month state of emergency across the land.
He disclosed that the three-week long strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) was embarked upon on the prodding of the PDP-led Federal government as a way to stymie any higher court upturning of the lower court pronouncement which ruled on Jonathan’s eligibility to contest the February 14 election.
Similarly, the APC Campaign said the same trade union has been procured to open the court to allow for this court pronouncement in disqualifying Buhari from contesting the election.
The APC Campaign called on the international community to “prevail on this obviously agitated presidency not to plunge Nigeria into avoidable intractable crisis.”
However, Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said in a statement yesterday in Abuja that the “APC’s penchant for propaganda and threat of violence was mind-boggling.”
He added: “We are not, at all, surprised about the false alarm raised by the APC that the PDP-controlled Federal Government is planning to declare a six-month state of emergency across the land. It is characteristic of the opposition to make spurious allegations in the build-up to the scheduled February general elections.
“The APC’s penchant for propaganda and threat of violence is mind-boggling. The narrative weaved together by the opposition party is disingenuous and it shows how desperate it has become in its impossible bid to dislodge the PDP-controlled Federal Government.
“It is clear that the APC now knows full well that a crushing defeat awaits it at the February 14 presidential election; otherwise why would it embark on this flight of illusion about a purported plot by the PDP to precipitate violence prelude to the declaration of a state of emergency?
“We state categorically that the PDP is ready for the February 14 presidential elections and all subsequent elections; and is therefore not party to any imagined ploy to postpone or cancel the election.
“At no time has the PDP ever had the power to postpone or cancel elections. Moreover, the PDP has been consistent in stating its readiness for the forthcoming elections.
“We urge our numerous supporters and indeed all Nigerians to discountenance the panic-driven shenanigans of the APC.
“The inalienable right of every eligible Nigerian to participate in the political process of our great country is guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as amended and the relevant Electoral Laws.
“The PDP has neither the right nor inclination to dictate to anyone, including members of the opposition party, how he or she participates in the electoral process.
“If the APC is afraid that its presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has fallen foul of the laws of the land, instead of crying wolf he should submit himself to the nearest police for interrogation and prosecution.
“We call on all Nigerians to be vigilant, because by its issuing this outlandish statement, the APC has unwittingly exposed its plot to whip up sentiments and incite the people to violence.
“The forthcoming election is not and should not be a do-or-die affair. We must state clearly that we are not impressed or in the least bit intimidated by their constant, boastful and empty threats. All the promises of violence in the world will not stop us from shaming them on February 14.
“The PDP is battle-ready and we are confident of victory in a free, fair and credible election on February 14 and 28.”
And in continuation of their campaign tours nationwide yesterday, Jonathan promised to accelerate the rate of infrastructural development among others, while Buhari pledged to tackle insecurity, unemployment and corruption if elected on February 14.
In Jalingo, Taraba State, Jonathan echoed his commitment to execute more federal projects in the state if re-elected.
Business activities in the state capital were brought to a standstill following the visit.
From Barde Way down to the venue of the campaign which is located on the outskirts of Jalingo metropolis, shops were closed as the people thronged the Jolly Nyame Stadium to witness the event.
He promised to complete the Kashimbila Dam and the Mambila hydro power projects and build a presidential resort in Mambilla.
Jonathan was accompanied by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali among others.
Jonathan, speaking in Yola, Adamawa State promised to build more good roads, improve agriculture, education and other sectors.
He pledged that his administration would not interfere in the conduct of the polls just as he assured that the exercise would hold as scheduled.
His entourage had arrived in Yola from Jalingo about two hours behind the scheduled 3.00pm.
PDP supporters who were at Ribadu’s Square venue of the rally at about 9.00am waited till 4:47 pm when the President arrived in company of Sambo, Mark and other top party members.
Before the president mounted the podium at about 5:56pm many had left the venue, tired of waiting. On the high table were Governor James Bala Ngillari, state party executives and other top PDP stakeholders.
The newly installed state chairman of PDP, Chief Joel Madaki, promised that Adamawa people would vote massively for Jonathan. Madaki who was suspended from office with the PDP’ state secretary, Alhaji Abubakar T. Shehu, over their resistance to the imposition Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as the governorship candidate, said that his party which is hit by crisis would recover and win the poll.
Ngilari assured Jonathan of victory in the state pointing out that since1999, PDP has controlled Adamawa.
The governor promised to reconcile all aggrieved members to return to PDP before the poll.
All top stakeholders of PDP in the state attended the rally.
Speaking at a rally in Benin City, Buhari said that the Nigerians were suffering because of the 16 years of PDP misrule.
He added: “16 years of PDP misrule is what every household is suffering from today. APC’s intention which has been very well articulated in its manifesto and will be modified from time to time is to tackle the monumental problems we have which is recognised throughout the country and elsewhere.
“APC government by the will of God and Nigerians from May 30 this year will make sure we remove insecurity from Northeast to Badagry, from Sokoto to Cross River and from Zaria to Port Harcourt.”
The presidential campaign train of the APC hit the ancient Mapo hill in Ibadan, Oyo State capital yesterday with a pledge from Buhari to rebuild the country from the near precipice into which he said the PDP has plunged it.
Besides, he assured of his readiness to tackle corruption headlong, rebuild the nation’s infrastructures as well as empower the people by providing them with good governance and constant electricity.
Buhari who arrived in the city in an helicopter with his running mate, Yemi Osinbajo, and top APC leaders including its Chairman, John Odigie- Oyegun, Bola Tinubu, erstwhile Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and governors of Oyo and Osun states, Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola, berated the PDP government, saying despite the heavy investment in power, the sector could still not provide adequate electricity supply.