Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has lamented that the Nigeria’s 20 year participatory democracy is now under threat by the government of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said: “It now appears that our participatory democracy which we have enjoyed for 20 years, which empowers our citizens to decide who leads them, is under threat. This is worrisome, considering the great sacrifices including the ultimate sacrifice made by many to uphold the tenets of democracy in our country.”
Atiku, who addressed the PDP Chieftains today, Tuesday in Abuja, recalled that during the Peace Accord process, he said in clear terms, quoting former President Goodluck that “my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
He said that he had also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to make that same commitment to the people whose mandate he holds, while also urging all security agencies to uphold the constitution with an understanding that voting is a civil activity and civic responsibility.
“The Nigerian military is constitutionally responsible for protecting our national integrity and its borders and has no role to play in the conduct of elections.
“Additionally, I call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), once again to remain impartial arbiters while ensuring that they conduct credible elections, this time around.
INEC must ensure that all logistical challenges are addressed between now and Saturday, the 23rd, and that all materials retrieved from the field are inspected by participating political parties before the commencement of the elections.”
He said that the utterances from the leadership of the APC and President Buhari have been painful reminder of the era of dictatorship and military rule, saying that Buhari has repeatedly violated the constitution and failed to uphold the rule of law.
“Recent instances include the unconstitutional suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the day before he was to appoint the judges for the electoral tribunals that will decide any appeals of whether any of our elections were subject to manipulation: thereby crossing the immutable line that divides the Executive from the Judiciary.
“Alas, my concerns do not end there. Only yesterday Gen. Buhari said “the military and police should be ruthless” and “anybody who disturbs the voting system, will do it at the expense of his own life.”
“It is quite shocking for any head of state to utter such words in a democracy. A pre-condition for ‘free, fair and credible’ elections is that the people are able to cast their vote without fear of violence.
“Elected into office by the votes of the people in what is considered Nigeria’s most free, fair and credible election, you owe it to our people to let them give their verdict in the same way you were elected.
We must now turn our attention to the upcoming elections this Saturday, where the destiny of our people and country will resoundingly be decided.
“In spite of last week’s disappointment, I urge all Nigerians to come out and vote for the candidate of their choice, keeping in mind our desire to build a democratic and economically viable nation that will be respected amongst the league of democratic nations.”
Atiku assured Nigerians and his supporters that he is going to win the Saturday election and the party will win other subsequent ones ahead.
“To our long-suffering citizens, I say do not despair, our time is now, and together we shall reshape the destiny of our beloved country.”