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Fears Mount Over April Polls

Anxiety over the possible outcome of the general elections scheduled for April has continued to heighten among the elite, the general populace, and international community following the negative developments attending the congresses and primaries of the leading political parties.

THISDAY checks indicate that deep-seated fear that the election may witness widespread violence or be marred by a stalemate which may threaten the unity of the country continue to be expressed in top level discussions at home and abroad.

Events attending the congresses and primary elections of the various parties particularly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has the largest number of elected and appointed public office holders in all tiers and at all levels of government have further exacerbated the negative conclusions on the elections by local and foreign analysts.

It is believed that the spate of violence, intra-party crises, the on-going litigations over who is eligible to vie for the presidency under the PDP zoning arrangement and the intimidation of fellow party members opposed to the establishment at various levels have continued to heighten the uncertainties surrounding the election.

PDP congresses which started late last month have witnessed killings, arson and brigandage. For example in Oyo State, on December 30, Lateef Salami aka Eleweomo, chairman of the state chapter of the dreaded National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), was killed during the local government congress of the PDP in Ona Ara local government area. He was shot during a clash involving supporters of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and Senate leader, Teslim Folarin.

The incident has provided the opportunity for the governor’s faction which was bent on ensuring that Folarin is not re-elected to scheme him out of contention. The senator whose security aides and supporters were alleged to have killed Salami was promptly arraigned in a magistrate court and was ordered to be remanded in prison custody till January 14 when the case was slated to be heard. By the date of the hearing, Folarin would have lost all opportunities to stand as a candidate in the election.

Four days after Salami was murdered in Ibadan at the venue of a congress, a medical doctor, Akpan Akpudo who was seeking the PDP ticket for a House of Assembly seat in Mpat Enin Local government area of Akwa Ibom State was not allowed to witness the primaries. He was murdered at the entrance to St. Luke General Hospital in Uyo where he worked while returning from a stakeholders’ meeting in his village at Mpat Enin.

In the same vein, last Friday, militants believed to be sending coded political message attacked a convoy of the gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the Labour Party in Bayelsa State, Mr Timi Alaibe, a former presidential adviser, and killed five people while the sixth person was badly injured.

In Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger and Osun States, the various congresses and primaries of the PDP had ended in violence in which damage to lives and properties were recorded.

Also, intra-party crisis with potential to develop into violent clashes is ravaging the PDP state chapters in Ogun, Oyo, Enugu, Kwara, osun, and Adamawa States.
The governorship primaries of the PDP holding today are expected to present more crises and violence in some of the flash-point states.

Also, the issue of zoning continues to pitch the northern leaders in the PDP against their southern counterparts. Even, the presidential primaries of the party slated for Thursday in which President Goodluck Jonathan is pitched against former vice president Atiku Abubakar is being threatened by a court case whose verdict will be known tomorrow.
Three loyalists of Atiku, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Amb. Yahaya Kwande and Chief Dubem Onyia have asked an Abuja High Court to declare President Jonathan ineligible to contest the primaries. Justice Ishaq Bello has fixed tomorrow as judgement day.

If the verdict turns against the president, it will stall the PDP primaries holding three days later as there is little time for appeal before the january 15 deadline for submission of names of all candidates as stated in the guidelines of the Independent National Ele-ctoral commisssion (INEC).

While there are crises in some of the other parties, the ones in the PDP are more accentuated because of the general belief that candidates of the party have better chance of winning in the general election in many of the 36 states PDP presently controls 28 of them.

Reacting to the uncertainties surrounding the April polls, former Ogun State governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and an ACN chieftain said “it is most unfortunate that the PDP has introduced violence at a very high scale to the political space of this country. For instance, Osoba said in Ogun State, people now toy and play with “sophisticated weapons like AK 47. What kind of government will allow so much imported weapons- purely for political use?

He said the implication is that after the election, such weapons would be deployed for robbery purposes, citing an on-going case in Ekiti State. He therefore condemned the trend and suggested that voting period must not be extended beyond 1pm simultaneously across the country on election day.

Also, Lagos-based lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay described the violence trend preceding the coming polls as disturbing. “You can see that it is all political, he said. Sagay said the trend of violence is being perpetrated by politicians who are jostling for power and that in their desperation to undo each other, they have employed violence.

He cited the situation going on in the jostle for the nation’s number one seat. According to him, moves by certain presidential hopefuls to stop President Goodluck Jonathan are getting more and more desperate. He attributed the violence in the nation’s capital and some other parts of the North to the plan to stop Jonathan from participating in the April Presidential Polls. He said rather than engage each other in a free and fair contest; the politicians are employing sectionalism, the result of which is the spate of violence in the country.

Also speaking on the development, former minister of works during the era of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe appealed to the people to stop seeing government as the only means of livelihood. He said that is the crux of the desperation that has resulted in the needless violence.

Ogunlewe said the presidential system in the country is too expensive. He said countries like Nigeria are better off with a parliamentary system which he described as more inclusive and participatory.

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Posted by on Jan 9 2011. Filed under Elections 2011, Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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