National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has said that contrarily to the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that all Political parties must not commence campaigns again before the election, the party was set to renew its electioneering campaigns ahead of the Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Oshiomhole, who made this known today in Abuja at the party’s National Caucus meeting held at the party’s National Secretariat.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had early on Saturday, Feb. 16, announced the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by a week.
The APC national chairman said, “We have called this meeting to give our people hope and renew our commitment to democracy, and to free and fair elections”.
He said that the decision of INEC to amend the law through administrative pronouncement by putting an embargo on campaigns would not stand.
Oshiomhole said INEC was not in the position to make laws, noting that laws made by the country’s parliament were superior to the opinions of INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
“The extent provision of the law is clear when you postpone elections, it had happened before, the law says you are entitled to renew campaigns up to 24 hours before the date of the elections.
“The law did not say you would stop campaigns on the 15th of February regardless of when the elections will actually take place.
“Therefore, as a law-abiding party, we will proceed to energise our members to renew campaigns and to urge them to come out en masse,” Oshiomhole said.
He noted that with the postponement of the elections, voter apathy could result.
This, he said, was not good for a party that had a huge support base, saying that it could only be good for a party that was not sure of its level of grassroots support.
Oshiomhole stressed that this was the main reason the party had to renew its campaigns ahead of the elections.
“So, without consulting INEC, we are proceeding and we are ready to meet them in court because they cannot by administrative fiat amend or distort extant provisions in electoral Act,” he said.
The APC national chairman, said there was the need for the party to remind its members across the country that elections had been rescheduled, urging them to have trust and faith in it and be determined to exercise their franchise.
He maintained that the process of doing that would require returning to campaigns between now and Thursday.
He, however, said there was a need for the INEC chairman to brief the party and other stakeholders daily on its preparations ahead of the elections as rescheduled.
“Having violated the people’s confidence, INEC must now work to earn the confidence of the people, while APC will write INEC to meet with its leadership to discuss the way forward,” the national chairman said.
Oshiomhole said that contrary to speculations, the APC was not working to have a staggered election.
“We want a nationwide election, same time, the same day all over the country. So, INEC needs to brief us on the basis of this.
“We must not allow this last-minute shock to demoralise our members.
“We need to renew the campaign, renew the assurance and renew the confidence that next time, this election will take place,” he said.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that any institution of State or individual that compromises the country’s democracy is dealt with.
“Mr President, you have a duty to trigger the process that will compel everyone involved in all of these to account
“We cannot be helpless because at the end of the day, all fingers will point at you even as innocent as you are,”he said.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had few hours to the commencement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections announced the rescheduling of the exercises by one week.
By the postponement, the Presidential and National Assembly elections now come up on Feb. 23, while the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections would hold on March 9.
Yakubu had said the decision to postpone the elections was taken after a meeting with INEC Commissioners, citing “logistics’’ problems as issues that prompted the postponement.
He said the decision was further necessitated after reviewing the level of the commission’s preparedness for the exercise.
The INEC chairman stressed that postponing the elections was a difficult decision, but was necessary for successful delivery of the elections and to consolidate on Nigeria’s democracy.