Three days to the presidential election, tension is building up across the country as theAll Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) engage themselves, with accusations and counter-allegations on all fronts. Yesterday the two major political parties traded blames over alleged violence plots to destabilise the country. Speaking for the APC,Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, accused the PDP of planning to ignite crisis and cause panic to win the sympathy of the electorates. PDP’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, in response, said President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the APC were the ones inciting violence, stating, “no amount of crisis the ruling creates will save them from defeat at the presidential poll.” A statement by Mohammed’s Special Adviser, Segun Adeyemi, said the alleged plots confirmed the earlier alarm raised by the Federal Government that PDP was working with foreign hostile intelligence services to discredit the general elections. He claimed that PDP bigwigs, including its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, his running mate, Peter Obi, PDP governors and others, in days ahead would hold a world press conference where they would “level frivolous and unfounded allegations against the Federal Government and APC.”
He said they would accuse the Presidency, in connivance with the APC, of planning to force the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to announce presidential election results favourable to Buhari: “They will use their world press conference to further disparage the Buhari administration as well as the APC, with a view to painting an unfavourable image of both to Nigerians and the international community and to put the government on the defensive in the run-up to the polls.” Mohammed alleged that PDP’s “last joker will be a two-hour live press conference to be addressed by Ologbodiyan, on February 14, to chronicle all their concocted allegations and lies against the ruling government, cast aspersion on government and ruling party officials and throw innuendos. “The truth is that Buhari has continuously assured that the elections will be free, fair, credible and peaceful, because he is sure that the achievements of his administration will win him re-election. “We are calling on Nigerians and the international community to disregard any attempt to scuttle or discredit the polls. We urge observers to keep an open mind.
“There is no cause for alarm, except in the warped imagination of the PDP, which has entered the panic mode and is already ruing the loss of another general election even before it is held.” Ologbondiyan, however, told Daily Sun in Abuja, that APC was planning to orchestrate crisis on the eve of the presidential election: “Nigerians know the party that is recoursing to violence in its campaigns. “President Buhari in Zamfara State incited the people to get ready for a fight. Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State said international observers in Nigeria to monitor and ensure that we have a free and fair election, will return to their countries in body bags. That is incitement. That is violence. “So, if your party members, including your presidential candidate are going about inciting the people to violence and creating an environment that can lead to chaos, how do you make full swing and begin to accuse the opposition? “We in the PDP along with majority of Nigerians are prepared for elections on Saturday. And there is no kind of crisis the APC will create that will save them from their awaiting monumental defeat because it is already clear to them that they have lost this election. “They have become jittery. They have become feverish. They have become desperate, all in a guise to save themselves from the humongous loss that they are going to face on Saturday. “Our position is that we are prepared for election in the PDP. And Nigerians are rallying with our candidate, because they are tired of the manifest failures of the APC and the Buhari Presidency.” Meanwhile, Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, said APC would give PDP in Rivers State, the run for its money.
He declared at the APC presidential campaign rally in Port Harcourt, yesterday: “Whatever PDP wants, we will give it to them. We are equal to the task. I will be here till after the election.” Amaechi who is also Director General, Buhari Campaign Organization, said: “Whatever Wike wants on Saturday, we will give him. Whatever the PDP wants in Rivers, we will give them. I am not going to Abuja again from here. “We will battle him to the last. Today, we will sing like the Ibo sings. On Saturday, they should get ready. We are ready for them. “In 2015, they used federal and state institutions against us. They killed and maimed our leaders. They killed our supporters and beheaded them. They used the courts against us.”
Also at the rally, National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, asked Nigerians not to vote Atiku “because of his promise to devalue the naira and give amnesty to looters, instead of jailing them.”
But the PDP urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to immediately list Amaechi for allegedly inciting violence with war songs.
Ologbondiyan said the fact that Amaechi’s incitement “is coming few days after Buhari called on his supporters to get ready to fight and threat to international observers by El-Rufai has exposed APC’s plot against peaceful elections.
“Nigerians understand Amaech’s frustration as a salesman of a failed product in Buhari, which he also attested to in his leaked audio recording, but seeking to vent this frustration on the peace-loving people of Rivers State is totally unacceptable.
“Amaechi should have understood that Nigerians, across the board, have rejected Buhari and reached a consensus to elect the people’s candidate, Atiku, as the next President of our country. He should know that no form of intimidation, enticement or blackmail would change that reality.”
He urged Nigerians to hold Amaechi and the APC responsible in the event of any breakdown of law and order in Rivers State or any other part of the country, before, during and after the elections.
In the meantime, Buhari and Atiku continued their campaigns yesterday in Port Harcourt and Lagos respectively.
Buhari promised not to allow any security agency to intimidate Nigerians during the elections, warning Federal Government institutions to allow Nigerians to vote any candidate of their choice across party lines without any form of intimidation, harassment and coercion:
“I will be accountable to you (Nigerians). I ask you to, please, bear with me that I am going to be steadfast and I am going to do justice to all Nigerians. Nigeria is one and we will remain one.
“People of the North East are witnesses to our improvement in the security of this country. The millions of dollars that we used to spend on rice (importation), we now save it for infrastructure. On corruption, we are going to remain consistent and resolute.”
A mild drama ensued at the rally when the factional candidate of the APC in the state, Senator Magnus Abe and his supporters were barred from entering the venue of the rally.
He was also cut off from the protocols as only the Amaechi’s choice governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, was recognized by the party leadership.
Four persons were confirmed dead and scores unconscious as a result of stampede at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Igwuruta, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, venue of the rally. They included three aged women and a man.
The incident occurred when the crowd surged towards the main pedestrian gate, but got suffocated and were trampled upon.
Two ambulances from the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), were seen conveying the unconscious supporters out of the stadium.
Meanwhile, the PDP claimed that every survey conducted by both local and foreign organisations on the poll indicated that its presidential candidate, Atiku, would win the election. It warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against rigging the result of the presidential election.
Atiku said: “The APC said it will create jobs for us, today there is massive unemployment.
“The APC promised security, today there is high level of insecurity in Nigeria. The APC promised us economic revival today Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. These are people that cannot be trusted.
“I promise you I will create jobs, I have been doing it and I will turn this country around if you vote for me.
“I am a Lagosian, I came to Lagos before most of you here. Let me assure the people of Lagos and the South West in general that I will address their problems. When I say I am going to do something, I will do it. I have said I will restructure this country and I will do it.”
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, noted: “Since Buhari came, businesses in Lagos have shutdown, the economy and security has collapsed. But on Saturday a man, tested and trusted will take over.
“He will open the closed businesses and create jobs and Lagos will become the economic capital of West Africa.”
Former National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, said the fact that articulated trailers were removed from Lagos roads during Buhari’s visit “is an indication that the traffic situation worsened by trailers can be solved.”
Former Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State said a new president would be sworn in on May 29.