A chieftain of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Abdulmumin Jibrin, on Tuesday said President Muhammadu Buhari is duty-bound to conduct a free and fair election in 2023.
Buhari had on September 21 told world leaders at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that his administration will bequeath credible elections next year.
But Jibrin, who spoke in Abuja during a citizens’ election dialogue on the theme, “What makes a good election in Nigeria,” said the Commander-in-Chief should not think he is doing Nigerians a favour by the pledge.
Jibrin was not the only one who spoke at the event. The spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Senator Dino Melaye, who attended the event, accused the President of appointing APC members as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
Melaye, a former lawmaker representing Kogi West senatorial district, explained that the conduct of INEC can either make or mar the 2023 general elections.
“As a party, we made some complaints that some names mentioned as Resident Electoral Commissioners as nominated by Mr President are card-carrying members of the APC,” Melaye said, reiterating the PDP’s worry over the nomination.
“Some of them even participated in open APC activities as nominees for the REC for some states. That is the complaint of my party. If that is rectified, then we must quickly appoint REC because it will boost the confidence of the electorates and show the seriousness of the entire system for the 2023 general elections.”
But Jubrin, an equally opposition like Belaye, saw things differently from the controversial Kogi politician when he claimed that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was against taking Nigerians for granted in the quest for good governance.
According to the former House of Representatives Member, “It is important for us not to take Nigerians for granted. Yes, President Muhammadu Buhari made that comment internationally that he will bequeath a free and fair election,” he said.
“It is not a favour to Nigerians, it is a responsibility. So, we should not wrongly interpret that,” the ex-Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation added.
He also spoke about the 19 Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) nominees recently forwarded to the National Assembly.
The ex-lawmaker said his party – NNPP – is worried, the same way Nigerians are concerned over the perceived partisan nature of some of the nominees.
According to him, the President had last year appointed one of his aides, Lauretta Onochie, as National Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The dialogue held Tuesday during which Nigerians highlighted critical issues pertaining to the 2023 elections at the inaugural edition of the Citizens Election Dialogue series organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Yiaga Africa and Channels Television.
Speakers also called for free and fair elections in 2023 during the forum which held in Abuja and was themed ‘What makes a Good election for Nigeria’.
The dialogue series is designed to provide a public platform for citizens to conduct political debates and focused conversations to promote electoral awareness of the upcoming 2023 polls.
In attendance at the Tuesday’s edition as panelists, at the event attended by Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations), DIG Bala Senchi, were PDP presidential spokesperson, Dino Melaye, Labour party chieftain, Oseloka Obaze, APC chieftain, Adams Oshiomhole, NNPP spokesperson, Abdulmumin Jibrin, and former lawmaker Nnenna Ukeje among others.
In his own contribtuion, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations), DIG Bala Senchi, called on Nigerians to commend security operatives when they do good, saying such will boost their morale.
Senchi, who spoke in Abuja during a citizens’ election dialogue on the theme, “What makes a good election in Nigeria,” said improvements have been made in tackling the nation’s security challenges.
“I implore Nigerians to always acknowledge, instead of condemnation all the time of what the security agencies are doing,” the police boss said.
“When you acknowledge what we are doing, you are putting more impetus for us to work harder, but when you condemn where we work and we are achieving.”
Senchi also spoke about the security situation along the Abuja-Kaduna Road, saying the route has been relatively peaceful with travellers moving without fear of being kidnapped.
This, he attributed to measures put in place to stem the tide of banditry along the road for a while.
He added, “Yes, we have some security challenges here and there but you will also agree with me that today, there is a tremendous improvement in the security situation in this country.
“We are all witnesses; we have seen how many Boko Haram/ISWAP followers have been surrendering to the military.
“We also know that many of these bandits have been eliminated. That is why we are able to move about today. For long, we have not heard of any security issues along Kaduna-Abuja Road. It has been peaceful and is because of the measures we have always put in place.”
He also spoke on the readiness of the Police Force with respect to the 2023 general elections, vowing neutrality for security operatives.
According to him, the Force would do everything possible to ensure that the polls are free, fair, and credible.