Wednesday, 9 February 2011

News Release: Buhari To Commonwealth; "Democracy Is Being Stretched Before Elections"

Buhari With Mrs. Masire Nwanba
The Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change(CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari have called on the Commonwealth to lean hard on the incumbent government in Nigeria to stop abuse of power in the build up to April elections, as it is bound to foul the conducive atmosphere needed for credible polls.

Gen.Buhari made the call at a meeting with Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Mrs Masire Nwanba in Abuja Wednesday Morning as part of the group's consultations with stakeholders ahead of the elections.

The front line runner specifically referred to the detention of the CPC governorship candidate in Nassarawa state,Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura by the police over alleged heckling of President Goodluck Jonathan campaign train  in the state on Monday:

"Information at our disposal indicates that Al-Makura was not even in Nassarawa on Monday and neither was anybody arrested among the hecklers who claimed to have been sent by him. This arbitrary arrest shows that democracy is already being stretched before the elections".

Gen Buhari who was accompanied by his running mate, Pastor  Tunde Bakare told the Commonwealth Scribe that the background of INEC chairman Prof Attahiru Jega rekindled hope in the ballot box upon his appointment but that some recent developments give cause for concerns about the electoral body:

"There is the scandalous substitution of candidates submitted by our party in some states. How can the electoral agency can revalidate a candidate rejected by us based on inducement of party members with money? Our team of lawyers will challenge that “he said.

He also drew attention to the many hitches that characterized the voter registration exercise, the lack of will to deal with high profile violators of the rules governing the exercise and excessive pandering to the ruling party on breaches of clear provisions of INEC guidelines.

He equally frowned at the situation where adequate remedies have not been made for problematic terrains in the Niger Delta and Mambilla Plateau where elections did not hold in 2007 because materials arrived 24 hours after the elections.

He however praised the people for the keen interest they have shown in the electoral process:
"The awareness is higher today and even the elites are getting involved because they realize the effects a rigged election could have on the system. Kano started it in 2003,Bauchi and Lagos followed suit in 2007 and it is clear a countrywide mood for mandate defense is gathering".

He further called on the Commonwealth to ensure it does the needful to monitor all the electoral processes recalling that part of the evidence used to get the Supreme Court to split in two halves over the 2007 elections before the casting vote of the chief Justice was the report of the International Observers.

He concluded that the April polls are critical to the future of Nigeria and the rest of the world must assist the people of Nigeria to have their electoral will asserted.

Earlier, Mrs Masire Mwanba had explained that her team was in Nigeria to hold a listening brief and assess the processes leading to the elections as election day alone does not give all the flavors.

Yinka Odumakin
Spokesman to Buhari

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