The National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu on Friday at the Party’s National Secretariat in Abuja spoke to journalists on wide-ranging issues such as the party’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on APC Rivers Governorship Candidate; the party’s affirmation of Senator Ayogu Eze as Enugu State governorship candidate; Imo APC suspension of the State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha; comments by the Kaduna State Governor Nasir El Rufai on foreign interference in Nigeria’s elections; Niger east senatorial candidate; recent Police redeployment and the party’s preparedness for the forthcoming elections. Excerpts:
Supreme Court ruling on APC Rivers Candidates
Our legal department is looking into the judgement of the Supreme Court. It is not the kind of judgement we looked forward to, based on the facts that we are aware of. The only option before us now is to review this judgement and see what other means that are legal. We think we deserve to field candidates in Rivers State. We know we did the right thing. We had our primaries even though there are issues around it. I don’t know why it appears the APC is the only party that is being subjected to this kind of scrutiny from the electoral body. It is the same APC that PDP has continued to raise flags as being the party that wants to rig election and is supposed to be working in cahoots with INEC. If this is the way to work in cahoots with INEC, we need to ask further questions. We know what we did in Rivers compared to what PDP did in many of the thirty-six states. PDP shouldn’t field candidates in many states if the same parameters applied by the electoral body are applied to the PDP. Our legal department will review the outcome of this as unpalatable as it is and we will be able to say categorically the next step we might be taking and come out with it in due course.
Affirmation of Senator Ayogu Eze as Enugu State Governorship Candidate
In Enugu State, we are aware of the judgement that says our candidate; Senator Ayogu Eze is not the rightful candidate. We would say that we have acknowledged the judgement of the court but we do know the party followed the procedure and the processes that led to the emergence of Senator Ayogu Eze is what this party believes in. We believe that the Appeal Court will do the right thing and upturning it. Senator Ayogu Eze remains in the eyes of the party, the governorship candidate for Enugu State. The person that has been so declared by a court is unknown to this party because he did not even participate in the primaries that we organised. So there is no way he could have emerged as our candidate. Again, as I speak to you we have appealed the judgement and secured a stay of execution. So even legally as at today, Senator Ayogu Eze is the candidate of APC in Enugu State. We are very confident he is going to deliver.
Court decision on Party’s Niger east senatorial candidate
We stand by our process. Our process stands up to scrutiny. Take it to anywhere; we are sure we did the right thing without prejudice to what the lower court has said. That is why we have the opportunity of an appeal to the higher court.
Imo APC suspension of State Governor
We are aware of the situation in Imo and we have made our point clear. Let me reiterate that APC does not have an alliance with any party, including the Action Alliance. We are not in alliance with any party whatsoever in this election. However, we welcome support for our candidates from any party but we do not have such an arrangement that accommodates the candidate of any other party besides APC candidates. In Imo and all the thirty-six states, including the FCT, we are campaigning for APC candidates and we expect APC candidates to win elections anywhere we are campaigning in a free and fair atmosphere.
We are also aware of the fact the Party’s local chapter has taken some disciplinary action as regards the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. In last few weeks, we have been going round the country to present our scorecard before Nigerians and to seek a renewal of this mandate to continue the good work that President Muhammadu Buhari has embarked on. The National Working Committee has not been able to sit on that and many other issues pending. In due course the NWC will meet and that may be one of the issues that will be considered. As at today, the real issue in Imo is to emphasise the fact that APC is supporting all APC candidates in Imo and we do not recognise candidates that are not from the APC. We encourage the people of Imo to vote massively for APC candidates. The governorship candidate in Imo remains Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Comments by Governor Nasir El-Rufai on foreign interference in our elections
We stand fully by the statement as regards any country that thinks we are a colony; that we have a right to defend every inch of this country; and we are not a banana republic. So what Governor El-Rufai said clearly is the position of this government that we are proud as Nigerians and we are ready to defend the integrity of this country and that any country that thinks in the name of election will want to interfere and dictate to us or intimidate us in any way, it is unacceptable. That is exactly what Governor El-Rufai has said. The PDP can twist it the way they want. Governor El-Rufai never said people should not come and observe or monitor elections. And he was not referring to people who are genuinely coming to monitor and observe the elections. Nigerians also go to other countries as monitors and observers. So that is acceptable to us, we welcome peer review. What we don’t welcome and what is unacceptable to us is any country thinking we are a colony, we are not. We are a sovereign nation.
APC Preparedness for elections
The APC has been working on a daily basis through our activities in terms of implementation of policy and programmes that touch on the common people. These are what we are now showcasing to the public as a means of telling them that the change we promised is actually taking place; seeking a renewal of the mandate they gave us almost four years ago
As we all can see, PDP missed the bus. They got to the bus station and instead of boarding the bus; PDP is busy picking on issues that do not concern them. All the time they ought to be campaigning, they wake up on a daily basis based on their infamous Dubai strategy meeting that failed before they landed in the country
PDP showed ab initio that they are not coming into the elections to win it through the ballots. They put in place all sort of methods and illegal means they had wanted to deploy one after the other to get back to power through the backdoor. The PDP was busy creating false and fake news, spreading all sort of fallacies and that has now come to be their undoing.
It is clear that the elections in February 16, the election on March 2 are elections that the APC has demonstrated clearly that we are ready to win. The PDP has not offered any alternative to whatever APC is doing. When you look at the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, he said on national television that one of his priorities is to make his friends rich but we are busy improving the lives of the common people. Nigerian will remember that. Atiku has said he is coming to sell national assets to his foreign and local friends. The question we are going to ask during the election with our PVCs is what happened to all the national assets during the 16 years of the PDP and especially when Atiku was vice president and chairman of the privatisation council. National assets were sold for a pittance and they have all gone down. The only things that remain today are those that are personal to him. The gains he made from his position as vice president. This is the person that is contesting against our candidate. A person we just discovered paid heavily to get a 24-hour entrance into the US. That is the kind of person we want to have as president. Nigerians won’t do that.
Recent Police redeployment
Few weeks ago, it was the same PDP that was crying that the police have been compromised and that the former Inspector General of Police was poised to deliver the election to APC. Now the president has taken the position by appointing a new IGP. Now I don’t know where the noise is coming from.
There is no need to deceive ourselves. The whole noise about the posting of commissioners of police is about Kwara state, Dr. Bukola Saraki who is scared stiff remembering all he had done in the past when he had the control. What he normally used the police for, the way he used to manipulate INEC and he is thinking that the same thing may happen to him. How could you suggest to the police not to carry out its routine exercise? If the police think it is part of its preparation to ensure a free and fair election, provide security before and after the election is to move its personnel around, how does that bother anybody? It is because Bukola Saraki has realised without having control over INEC and the police, there is no way he can win his seat to come back as a senator. He cannot even deliver his polling unit, without being aided by the police and INEC and that is what he has been doing before but is no longer available for him. But let me assure him and his co-travellers, the APC doesn’t need those illegal things to win elections. In fact, we need them to do their jobs, we need them to provide a level-playing field to all political parties. That is all we want from the police, that is all we want from INEC. We don’t need the template Bukola Saraki and the PDP have been using and we are not going to use it.
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