Determined to outwit each other in the ongoing electioneering campaigns, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have again engaged themselves with all guns blazing over an alleged plot to disrupt the 2023 general election.
The major opposition party in Nigeria started the latest wrangling yesterday when it accused presidential candidate of the governing party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of plotting to scuttle the 2023 general election.
But with incisive vituperations, the APC lashed back at the PDP, calling on security agencies to invite PDP leaders and grill them over the useful information the party claims it has about plans to disrupt the 2023 polls.
Earlier yesterday, the PDP national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, alleged during a press conference in Abuja that the plot to disrupt the elections was in compliance with what he called Tinubu’s directive to APC members to deploy violence and snatch power in the 2023 general election.
Ologunagba noted that the recent attacks on offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ogun and Osun were part of the disruption plot.
He also said the PDP had been made aware of APC’s plot to orchestrate attacks in other states, particularly Kogi, Delta, some states of the South East as well as parts of the North, with a view to subverting the electoral process in as many states as possible.
Ologunagba said, “We alert Nigerians that in compliance with the directive by the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to his Party members to deploy violence and snatch power in the 2023 general elections, the APC having realized that it has been rejected, has commenced its violent attacks to frustrate the conduct of the elections.
“Nigerians can recall how the deflated and desperate Asiwaju Tinubu, in a closed-door meeting in London earlier this month, declared to his members that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte. It is what we are doing; It is being determined; you do it at all cost; fight for it, grab it, snatch it and run with it.
“In response to this directive, APC leaders and members have now activated plots to derail the electoral process through orchestrated violent attacks in various States of the country aimed to trigger a nationwide security emergency situation, instill fear and make it appear inconducive to conduct elections in the country.
“Part of the plot is the current attacks on the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in various parts of the country as witnessed in Ogun, Osun and Imo States where sections critical to the conduct of elections particularly those connected to the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) were targeted and destroyed.
“Also, our Party has been made aware of plans by the APC to orchestrate attacks in other States particularly Kogi and Delta; some States of the South East as well as parts of the North with the view to subverting the electoral process in as many States as possible.”
Ologunagba further claimed that intelligence available to PDP indicated that the attack on INEC facilities was to prevent newly registered voters from collecting their PVCs, destroy the PVC’s so that they will not be available for collection in INEC offices, and thirdly destroy INEC equipment and cripple its capacity to conduct elections.
He added that the APC has introduced a very disturbing dimension of “purchasing” PVCs from unsuspecting Nigerians through monetary inducement masquerading as empowerment programmes.
“In any case our Party is not surprised at the resort to violence by Asiwaju Tinubu and the APC; a clear acceptance of electoral defeat which apparently accounts for the APC’s Presidential Candidate’s decision to boycott the signing of the National Peace Accord by Presidential Candidates in the 2023 elections.
“It is apparent and disturbing that the APC Presidential Candidate has not issued any caution against the many acts of violence linked to members of his party. His body language and comments suggest the condoning of the ongoing violence on our electoral process.
“Of course, the London meeting where Asiwaju Tinubu directed his Party members to unleash violence on Nigerians was a closed-door event which inadvertently leaked to the public. The aim of the APC was to hit our nation with violence and mislead security agencies to direct their investigation on criminal elements and social restiveness, instead of the real culprit, the APC.
“The design is to create tension across the country to validate a narrative that elections cannot hold, then orchestrate a Constitutional crisis with a view to justifying a shifting of the elections and perpetuate certain APC elements in office beyond May 29, 2023.”
The PDP further warned that if the attacks on INEC offices extend to January and February, it may be difficult for the country to recover from their devastating effect.
Ologunagba continued: “This is because if you look at Section 134 of the Constitution, it has a threshold that a candidate must meet before that candidate can be declared winner of any election.
“The PDP therefore alerts the security agencies to take immediate steps to investigate and stop the APC on its vicious plot to derail our democratic process.
“The INEC should immediately invoke its regulatory powers and impose sanctions on the APC Presidential Candidate for constituting a clear and present danger to the electoral process. Our Party also calls on the International Community to impose strict sanctions including travel restrictions on APC leaders found culpable of instigating and encouraging violence in the electoral process.”
The PDP further asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call Tinubu and his party members to order so that Nigerians can peacefully choose their next president through a free, fair, transparent and credible electoral process.
But hitting back at the PDP, the APC and Tinubu urged law-enforcement agencies to immediately invite PDP leaders for questioning.
In a statement by the director, Public Affairs, and chief spokesperson to the APC presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo (SAN), said the PDP acts without a bit of shame or respect for the Nigerians people.
The minister of State, Labour and Employment, noted that instead of constantly apologising for its grievous acts of election rigging, money laundering and other electoral malpractices, the PDP has continued to pontificate.
He stated: “We note with concern the incoherent and convoluted Press Statement issued today by the ethically-challenged Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yet again raising alarm about certain plots to incite violence and derail the 2023 polls and having ‘credible information’ as to those unleashing violence in certain parts of the country.
“This Press Statement, coming just barely 48 hours after one of its former officials was convicted by a court of law over illegal acts committed during an election over which the PDP government presided, is just a pointer to the lowest level of moral debauchery to which the PDP has sunk.
“It operates without an iota of shame or respect for the Nigerian people. Instead of continuous apologies for those grievous acts of election rigging, money-laundering and other electoral malpractices, it continues to pontificate.
“Based on its latest Press Statement about having ‘credible information’ about certain individuals plotting to derail the 2023 elections, including acts of arson already perpetrated on the facilities of INEC, we therefore call on the law-enforcement agencies to, as a matter of URGENCY, invite the PDP leaders for immediate questioning.”
Keyamo listed the information security agencies should demand from the PDP to include the place and time such a meeting took place and those in attendance, the identities of those who committed these acts of arson on the facilities of INEC and the identity of those who sponsored these individuals.
He added: “The PDP should realise that an electioneering process is very serious business and not a time to issue baseless and infantile statements out of want of something to say to the Nigerian people. The Nigerian people have since grown weary of the antics of the PDP.
“We suspect that the latest alarm by the PDP is one of a long list of diversionary measures adopted by the party to deflect attention from its crumbling edifice.
“Just yesterday, the major leaders of the PDP in Katsina State led by a former Katsina State Governor, Mr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema, and 10 out of the 14-member working committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) boycotted the party’s rally in the State and today they issue this statement to deflect attention from that disaster.
“We also state that this gimmick is nothing but crying wolf when there is none. We have said in an earlier statement on this issue some weeks ago that this is the same unnecessary scare-mongering tactics and crass vituperations they employed and engaged in before the 2019 election which led to their crushing defeat.”
Keyamo described Tinubu as a thoroughbred democrat and one of the major architects of the democracy PDP and Nigerians were enjoying at the moment, noting that the APC standard bearer would be the last “of the presidential candidates to be accused of undemocratic conduct or underhand dealings in the electoral process.”
Insisting that security agencies must probe PDP leaders, the minister said, “The PDP should not joke or play politics with grave security matters. Having ‘credible information’ as to plots and individuals relating to the attack on INEC offices currently, further plots to disrupt elections is, indeed, a matter of national security.
“This is therefore a notice to our law-enforcement agencies to immediately invite the PDP leaders for questioning. After all, it takes a thief to catch a thief!”