By Ahmed Ubandoma, Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, Jan. 3, 2019
President Muhammadu Bauhari, has urged members of All Progressives Congress (APC) Women and Youths Presidential Campaign Team (PCT) to embark on door-to-door campaign for the success of the party in the coming general elections.
This is as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to adhere to its promise not to use incident forms for the 2019 general election, as use of the forms would promote rigging, insisting that “data from the 2015 elections showed that 75 per cent of the almost 14 million people who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015 were linked to President Muhammadu Buhari.”
President Buhari gave the PCT the door-to-door campaign charge on Thursday while inaugurating the campaign team at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said “ In carrying out this assignment, I expect from members of this team the same loyalty and support which you exhibited in 2015.
“Let us remind Nigerians about our plans, our good work and achievements: Tell the people why they should give us another four years’’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PCT comprises of politicians, artistes, APC grassroots mobilisers, captains of industry, entertainers, retired senior military and police officers.
The campaign team chaired by the wife of the president, Mrs Aisha Buhari, is expected to engage in massive campaign to ensure re-election of Buhari/Osinbajo in the presidential election.
Buhari called on the APC supporters to redouble their efforts towards victory for the party in the coming general election.
“ I call on you to redouble your efforts and re-elect us in February, so that you can witness the next level of change.
“ To all Nigerians, I appreciate your love and support. I hope you will renew the mandate you overwhelmingly gave us in 2015.
“Please do not be distracted, our country is on course, I am very pleased to inaugurate the Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team.
“I charge you to reach out to all Nigerians door-to-door and remind them why we need another four years.
“ I am happy to tell you that we have made numerous landmark achievements.
“The change remains unshaken and continues until we return Nigeria on track to assume its rightful place among the comity of nations,’’ he said.
He said the campaign team was constituted to support the existing APC Presidential Campaign Council, which he chairs.
He underscored the importance of women and youths in electioneering campaign, urging them to remain steadfast in the task of consolidating the gains recorded by the APC administration.
“ My association with you has been for very long and is characterised by loyalty to the cause of change.
“This shows the importance with which we view the role of women and youths as the backbone of the Nigerian electorate.
“As such, they should be the drivers of our campaign; more so, they are the major direct and indirect beneficiaries of our social investment programmes,’’ he said.
The president expressed determination to lay a solid and sustainable foundation for a better future for generations of Nigerians.
“ Our dream is to sustain CHANGE so that all systemic distortions can be corrected and we can enjoy the fruits of being Nigerians under the banner of freedom.
“ It is also our hope that our unborn children will inherit a better nation,’’ he said.
Alhaji Abubakar, in a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Mr. Paul Ibe on Thursday in Abuja, said that he was worried about reports contrary to the promises made by INEC that it would not use the incident forms.
He said that any decision by INEC to revert to the use of incident forms was unacceptable to the PDP and to him.
According to him, any decision to use incident forms in the Feb. 16 election is to encourage rigging.
Abubakar said that data from the 2015 elections showed that 75 per cent of the almost 14 million people who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015 were linked to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“There are no reliable and accurate means of knowing who those voters were and whether they were genuine voters or sham voters.
`This disproportionate number of voters who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015 affected the integrity of those elections and we hold the INEC to its oft-repeated promise not to use anything but the Smart Card Readers and PVCs for the 2019 elections.’’
Abubakar said that the commission should remember that the world was watching and that Nigerians were alert to see if the present Chairman and board of INEC would place national interest above narrow interest.
He reminded the Chairman of the INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, of his promise to Nigerians at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room National Stakeholders’ Forum on Elections which held in Abuja on Dec.10, 2018.
He said that Yakubu, at the event, assured Nigerians that the smart card reader had become an integral part of the electoral process and would be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Abubakar said that at ₦143 billion, it was safe to say that more than enough funds were appropriated for the INEC to acquire and distribute Smart Card Readers, hence no reason for change of decision.
He said that the job of the INEC was to give Nigerians a level playing field and also to conduct an election that reflects the will of the people.
“We once again want to sound the alarm that only the strict use of Smart Card Readers and Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) can guarantee free, fair and credible elections that will be accepted by Nigerians and the international community,’’ he said.