The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Anambra State, Monday, met behind closed doors with the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji at the INEC headquarters in Awka over the challenges posed by the suspension of the February 16 presidential and national assembly elections.
The PDP team was made up of the state chairman of the Campaign Council, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, state chairman of PDP, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu and the director general of the Campaign Council in the state, Dr Harry Oranezi.
Details of what transpired at the meeting was not immediately known, but an insider said the PDP conveyed its concerns about the sanctity of election materials that had been in the field since the botched Saturday polls, non distribution of agents’ tags and the blanket suspension of campaigns.
It was gathered that officials of PDP complained to REC that the INEC ban on campaigns was adversely affecting House of Assembly candidates, who were expected to campaign until 48 hours to their election.
“INEC should revisit the directives that political campaigns should not be reopened. Our party takes a strong exception to that and if need be, we are willing to approach the court to seek interpretation of the Electoral Act,” the leader of the team, Obaze said.
Meanwhile, PDP has called on Nigerians to make more sacrifices by coming out on Saturday to exercise their franchise, despite the letdown caused by INEC’s decision to postpone the elections few hours before commencement of the exercise last Saturday.
The Anambra State chairman of Atiku/Obi campaign council, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, who made the plea in Awka, regretted the wider economic implications and opportunity cost of the polls postponement.
According to him, four years was enough for INEC to prepare for the elections, arguing that the sudden postponement was a systemic failure on the part of the electoral umpire.
Obaze, who was the candidate of the PDP during the 2017 governorship election in Anambra State, said INEC must accept responsibility and apologize for causing so much frustration and international embarrassment to Nigerians.
He, however, enjoined voters, especially those who traveled long distances to perform their civic duty last Saturday, to make further sacrifices and ensure that their voices were heard through the ballot on the rescheduled dates. “The pains of four more years of hardship and uncertainty far outweigh the pains of sacrificing a week to get Nigeria working again,” he said.
He said further: “The situation is embarrassing, especially when considered against the background of the assurances given by the President in his national broadcast some days earlier and the assurances INEC continued to give even few hours before the postponement was officially announced.
“We give some leeway to INEC and appreciate the enormity of challenges they faced, but what they have done, wittingly or unwittingly, is to shift the goalpost in the middle of the game, which is not acceptable. We are also worried about the safety of sensitive materials that have already been deployed.
” He insisted that PDP would meet with the state REC to inspect those materials, just the way they were inspected when they arrived, to ensure that their sanctity had not been violated.