The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, has told the international community that the ruling All Progressives Congress government and the Independent National Electoral Commission are working to truncate the country’s democracy.
Secondus said though the PDP for 16 years nurtured the nation’s democracy, indicators on the ground showed that the APC and INEC were not preparing to conduct free and fair elections in 2019.
He said this on Thursday while playing host to a team of the European Union led by Ketil Karlsen.
He said the opposition PDP was concerned at the emerging signs showing that 2019 election might be rigged.
He said, “What we see is marshal system of framing-up opposition leaders and trying to intimidate them. They are not ready to observe the rule of law and there is no democracy without the rule of law.
“We conducted election in 2015, the party and the presidential candidate did not go to court, we had a smooth transition because we believe in the rule of law
“Nigeria, as the largest black nation on the globe, cannot afford crisis because of the huge effect it would have on the continent and the entire global democratic community if democracy is truncated.”
He appealed to the EU and other international partners to keep a watch on Nigeria ahead 2019 and put pressure on the ruling APC government and INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
According to him, the EU team could not have visited at a better time than when President Muhammadu Buhari had just indicated interest to contest for a second term in office.
He said the PDP was positioning itself through a rebranding project targeted at the youths and children, just as it was mobilising its members and other Nigerians ahead of the 1999 elections.
But the APC denied the allegation by the PDP, saying the leaders of the former ruling party should have nothing to fear if they have no skeleton in their cupboard.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, told Punch that PDP had been reduced to a blame-game party.
He said, “The PDP is now full of allegation-mongers; a party that vowed to rule for 60 years but was rejected by the people.
“Their leaders should have nothing to worry about because those being accused of corruption will be tried under the law.
“How can they claim that we are planning to truncate democracy? It is a baseless allegation.”
Meanwhile, the EU has advised registered political parties in Nigeria to promote internal democracy as the country prepares for 2019.
Karlsen gave the advice while speaking with journalists after his courtesy call on the PDP national leadership.
He said political parties should look at their internal democracy mechanism, especially in the conduct of primaries, as the first step towards promoting democracy in the country.
He said, “We are very keen to see how their primaries are conducted; how the elections at the state level are also conducted, because these would serve as a litmus test ahead of the elections.
“We are hopeful that the All Progressives Congress, the PDP and other political parties will also look inwards on how they can best promote democratic principles within their parties.’’
The envoy also urged the parties to consider inviting and making it easier for women to participate in the elections, saying there was still unfilled room for women participation in politics.
“At the end of the day, it is about having politicians that really think about the citizens; real politicians that care about the right policies to provide solution to the challenges that Nigeria is facing.
“They are also the one that can convert the enormous resources of the country to beneficial resources for the ordinary people,’’ he said.
Karlsen, who said the EU was already intensifying dialogue among stakeholders ahead of the general elections added that the union was committed to promoting democracy in the country.
“Only here in Nigeria, we have a programme of more than €26m supporting political parties, the Independent National Electoral Commission and civil society organisations,” he said.
Karlsen said the EU was looking forward to participating in the 2019 general elections by way of deployment of election observers, adding that the body was keen on how to best support Nigeria in adopting recommendations it provided in the past on how the country’s elections could be improved on.
“We are also concerned about how to engage more women, youths and institutions.
“We are interested in how democratic institutions provide best practices for Nigerians, and that is why I always say what is good for Nigeria is good for Europe,” he added.
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