Speaker of the House or Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari’s party of clandestinely instigating violence in an alleged desperate bid to rig the uncertain 2019 elections.
Dogara, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart who is currently locked in his -re-election campaign has also called on the people of his home state, Bauchi, to resist any attempt to instigate violence and rig the 2019 elections.
He has equally alerted that there are people who do not have any ancestral link, connection or origin in Bauchi but allegedly want to cause violence and killings during the elections because they have nothing to lose.
The speaker is therefore, calling on the people to do everything possible to foil the plot because they are the ones who will lose relatives, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in addition to their ancestral homes.
He has accordingly charged his supporters to ensure that they monitor their votes on election day from the beginning to the end of the exercise in order to foil any plan to rig the polls.
Dogara was speaking while insisting that Nigerians will accept nothing short of openness, adherence to rules in 2019 elections. Arguing that since President Buhari has failed to assent to the Electoral Act amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly three times, ‘’the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police should note that Nigerians will accept nothing short of complete openness, a level playing ground and strict adherence to extant Laws in the conduct of the 2019 elections.’’
According to him, there are growing fears among well-meaning Nigerians and the international community of some suspected forces working to allegedly manipulate the coming elections by exploiting the identified loopholes in the current Electoral Act.
He had earlier told his colleagues in the House that the National Assembly has done its possible best to deepen the country’s democratic process by providing mechanisms that will guarantee successful and rancour-free elections by passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the third time after the President had declined assent to it twice, meaning that the impending general elections will not benefit from the innovative mechanisms crafted in its collaboration with international and development partners.
‘’It should remain a thing of pride for us that the National Assembly has done its best by taking steps to guarantee the successful and rancour-free conduct of the 2019 General Elections by passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the third time after Mr President had declined assent to it twice.
‘’Lack of passing it into law means that the impending general elections will not benefit from the innovative mechanisms crafted in its collaboration with international and development partners. Consequently, the palpable fears of the possibility of some forces working to manipulate the coming elections by exploiting the identified loopholes in the current Electoral Act, may become a reality if proactive steps are not taken by critical stakeholders.
‘’Hon. members, I believe that our intention to improve on the successes of the 2015 General Election through the Amendment Bill, is very clear to all fair-minded Nigerians. The spate of serious allegations by stakeholders, corroborated by some press reports against INEC and the Police in the recent elections, which are already subjects of litigations, are some of the factors that gave rise to public apprehension on the success of the coming general elections.
‘’We had intended, through this Bill, to minimise the risk to the survival of our hard-won democracy through responsive and timely legislation aimed at ensuring free, fair and transparent elections. Nonetheless, as Parliament, we have done our best to guarantee the stability and growth of our fragile democracy, and I have no doubt that history will be very kind to us.
‘’Under the present circumstance, we have no choice than to take INEC and the Police by their words and give them the benefit of doubt in their recent assurances to be impartial, efficient and truthful in the conduct of the coming elections. This is the minimum that the country deserves from them at this auspicious time. Nothing short of complete openness, a level playing ground and strict adherence to extant Laws will be acceptable to Nigerians’’, the speaker told his colleagues.
At the flag-off of his re-election campaign, he called on Buhari, to take a hard look at Nigeria’s national security architecture with a view to securing lives, national pride and prestige and to fight against unbridled violence.
For him, ‘’we are all witnesses to the continuous deteriorating security situation in our country more especially in the North-East, North-West and some parts of the North-Central. Only three days ago, scores of people were killed in Sokoto State and elsewhere. Hardly does any week pass without reports of mass killings and bloodletting, either by terrorists or armed bandits.
‘’’This calls for drastic, urgent and concerted action and efforts to bring to a quick end. Our citizens are looking up to us and we can’t afford to fail them because security of lives and properties is the primary purpose of government. The fight against unbridled violence is one we cannot afford to lose as we can’t do so and still keep our civilisation.
‘’The symptoms of the malady afflicting our national security architecture are in plain sight. It is therefore imperative for the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces to take a hard look at our national security architecture with a view to fixing the malady in order to secure lives, national pride and prestige.’’
While addressing his colleagues on Thursday, Dogara had noted that with less than five months to the end of the 8th National Assembly, now is a good time to reflect on the journey they started in June, 2015 and while the House can boast that it has done appreciably, the remaining period demands assiduous and expeditious work so that the huge legislative assignments that still lies ahead of them can be done with and the unsurpassed record of legislative outputs so far achieved by the House can be maintained.
He specifically called for accelerated legislative processing of the 2019 Appropriation so that government business will not be impeded, as well as other Bills under consideration which are critical to the development of our country. This is just as he reminded them to strike a good balance between their commitment to legislative duties and participation in the campaigns by streamlining their political timetable and schedules to make room for attendance to legislative duties as much as is expected of them.
Advocating for the highest form of decorum in the campaigns, the speaker said, ‘’I find it imperative on this occasion to call on all our political leaders to cultivate the highest level of decorum, responsibility and respect for the Law in our electioneering campaigns. We must, through our conduct, show our commitment to the successful and peaceful conduct of the 2019 elections and above all, the sustenance of our democracy.
‘’We should avoid the tendency of being hypocritical by engaging in misdeeds that we are quick to point out in our opponents. Let us be guided by our conscience and the teachings of our religions, which demand that we judge ourselves before judging others.’’
While expressing gratitude for the continued support and unity of the members to the leadership of the House, he cautioned that ‘’neither contest for elective office nor elections are ends in themselves as they are merely the means by which we seek to serve the people and indeed humanity. Where our intentions are genuine and honorable, we shall never seek power at the expense of the lives and properties of those we seek to serve. This should be our resolve across board.
‘’On election day, when you vote, don’t go home: vote and wait until all votes are counted and results announced and escort the vote.There are some of our unpatriotic people who are conniving with the Bauchi State government to cause violence.’’
Dogara lamented that good governance has eluded Bauchi in the last four years, unlike other states that have been witnessing development. And that in spite of his spirited efforts to spur development from the grassroots through the bill passed by the National Assembly to grant autonomy to local government councils, some governors did all within their powers to block it in order to continue to divert local government funds.
He appealed to his constituents to vote out the present government in order to bring in a government of the PDP which will be dedicated to infrastructure development of the state and the country at large, and disclosed the alleged unwillingness of the state government to support his efforts at bringing developmental projects to the state.
‘’I did everything within my power together with my colleagues to give autonomy to local governments but some state governors connived with some states assemblies to block it. Today, the local government is non-existent and the ordinary people don’t benefit anything from there.
‘’We have attracted so much infrastructural development to Bauchi State but the State government even sponsored some youths to protest and sweep the venue of the flag-off of road construction in 2017.
‘’Now that they see work is ongoing, the same Bauchi State government and its supporters have turned around to say the projects are President Buhari’s. So if they knew it was Buhari’s projects, why were they opposing it? We attracted schools and other projects too numerous to mention but the Bauchi State government stopped the work and chased away the contractors.
Don’t allow them deceive you. Even mosque we wanted to renovate here in Bununu they stopped it’’, he said.
He however, pointed out that neither him nor his political associates have any personal grudge against President Buhari but are only concerned about the welfare and security of the Nigerian people. ‘’None of us here hates Buhari. We do not hate him but the truth is we are worried and concerned about the future of our people in Nigeria, especially the North-East, which has been ravaged by Boko Haram violence. If not checked, it will consume us here even in Bununu, may God forbid. Poverty and killings and bloodletting have ravaged our land.’’
While decrying the desperation to remain in power in the face of glaring incompetence, he prayed that God will destroy whoever equates himself with Him as the one who gives and takes power and positions, as He did to Pharaoh a d other despots and dictators.
He also apologised to the people of Bauchi for helping to bring the present state government that has been a massive and monumental failure to power and sought their forgiveness.
At the campaign rally, eight former executives of the ruling APC, in addition to over 10,000 other members defected to the PDP. The event was attended by the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Bauchi, Senator Bala Mohammed, Deputy Governor of Gombe State, Hon Charles Illiya, Director General of the Gubernatorial campaign of the PDP in Bauchi, Senator Abdul Ningi, serving and former members of the National Assembly from Bauchi and neighboring states, members of the national PDP, as well as the executive and members of the party in Bauchi.