By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Akwa Ibom has raised an alarm over an alleged plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sell out the general elections ahead of the February/March elections.
Addressing a press conference in Uyo on Friday, state chairman of YPP, Apostle Nyeneime Andy alleged that agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in collusion with INEC were neck deep into purchase of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) from unsuspecting members of the public in order to rig the elections.
Andy claimed that INEC in the state jettisoned the names of those who applied online for recruitment of Adhoc staff and used the list directly sent by the state government which according to him, were names of beneficiaries of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Entrepreneurship Ibom 3000 project.
The YPP chairman also expressed worries over uncommon affinity between the INEC’s Head of ICT, whom he claimed, is currently working with the agents of Governor Udom Emmanuel–led administration and his party, the PDP.
He listed the alleged activities he saw as “misdemeanor” going on in the state to include: Purchase of PVCs from unsuspecting members of the public across the 31 LGAs, Obtaining of VIN numbers from voters across all the 4,354 polling units in state; Relocation of INEC to apartments of the State Government in the guise of renovations.
Others were; PDP buses seen ferrying INEC’s officials for the distribution of PVCs throughout the state, the State Government’s ICT experts hobnobbing with some officials of the State INEC.
The statement in parts, “We are here gathered for a matter of urgent attention as we begin the countdown to the Presidential/National Assembly elections on February 25, 2023 and the Governorship/State
Houses of Assembly elections on March 11, 2023.
“Indisputably, election is a great event in our democratic voyage. In essence, election must be transparently executed without any compromise whatsoever by the umpire – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). When election is transparently done to the satisfaction of all the political parties and the people generally, the stability of the polity is guaranteed. For elections to be seen to be credible and acceptable; the whole processes – covering the pre (manpower preparation), during (voting) and post (declaration of results) must be done according to best practices.
“At any of these stages, the electoral umpire must not be seen to falter, no matter the pressure. American jurist, William O. Douglas, rightly says if election that: “It is procedure that spells much of the difference between rule of law and rule by whim or caprice.” Taking a step further, American political theorist, Robert Dahl opines that, “The prospects for stable democracy in a country are improved if its citizens and leaders strongly support democratic ideas, values, and practices.
“We call on the Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), the Directorate of Defence Intelligence (DMI), the International Observers and the Embassies in Nigeria to take curious interest in the unfolding electoral misdemeanours in Akwa Ibom State. We insist that this should be thoroughly investigated so as to bring the perpetrators to book.
“Accordingly, it becomes very expedient for the State Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC to tell us and other political parties, nay the public, why these undemocratic and reprehensible underhand deals are happening right before his eyes without any punitive action or prosecution whatsoever.”
“If INEC in Akwa Ibom State goes into this kind of open collusion to rig the forthcoming elections, then the exercise cannot be called election but imposition. It is certainly not INEC with all the repeated assurances of its National Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, of free and fair elections that should be involved in these evil plots against the electorate of Akwa Ibom State, who earnestly desire to freely choose who they want as their Governor on March 11, 2023 as well as other candidates.
The Chairman, however, urged INEC to come out clean inorder to earn the trust and confidence of the participating political parties, the electorate, the security agencies and the global community in general in the forthcoming elections.
When contacted, the Public Affairs Officer of INEC, Ekom Umoh dismissed the allegations as unfounded, urging YPP to come up with evidence as the Commission was willing to investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone found culpable.
Recall earlier on January 07, 2023, the YPP raised concerns on the state of political affairs in Akwa Ibom State, which centred on the staff of INEC working hand-in-gloves with the agents of the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration and his party, the PDP to predetermine the outcome of the forthcoming elections in the state.