The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned an alleged secret meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu which is said to have held on Friday in Abuja. The party is also insisting that INEC should have disqualified the president over his certificate saga.
The PDP cautioned INEC against giving in to pressure and manipulation in order to tip the electoral process in favor of Buhari as it could cause a crisis in the country. The party also advised the president against allowing his personal ambition push the nation into a crisis.
Takeaways by the PDP in its statement signed by party spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan:
- Prof. Yakubu’s INEC ought to have disqualified Pres. Buhari due to his failure to present the constitutionally required academic credentials like other candidates. “Nigerians are aware that by President Buhari’s declaration, in an affidavit, that his said certificates are with the military, his nomination documentation is, therefore, constitutionally incomplete, making him ineligible to contest the 2019 Presidential elections. Also, by failing to write to the military authorities to release his claimed certificates, Mr. President leaves Nigerians with no option than to hold that he does not have the credentials, and the 1999 Constitution (as amended) did not provide that affidavits can be used as a substitute for any candidate’s credentials,” the statement said.
- Prof. Yakubu and INEC may be under threat from the APC and Pres. Buhari. “Prof. Yakubu must have noted the heavy public criticisms that have been trailing his provocative declaration that Nigerians should go to court over the certificate saga. His statement betrays an electoral umpire who is under threats and heavy pressure to abdicate his statutory duty of enforcing constitutional requirements for elections.”
APC’s response through its deputy publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena: The APC said that the PDP cannot disqualify its candidate, Pres. Buhari. He said the president has a clean record and integrity which Nigerians would not overlook on election day. Nabena subsequently went on a tirade against Atiku and his running mate, Peter Obi.
Bottom line: In as much as President Buhari is the incumbent president, meetings like the one held at the villa on Friday are bound to raise suspicions especially because neither INEC nor the presidency provided a readout of what was discussed. The president is a candidate in the elections and his party is fielding candidates across all levels, so a bit more transparency would be crucial to assure all parties that there is no foul play.