Buhari: I’m Ready to Die for Credible Elections

at 09:16 AM, 31/07/2009 (9 years ago)
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Former Head of State and presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the 2003 and 2007 general elections, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba, and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday warned that unless the 2011 general election is credible, there would not be peace in the country.
Speaking in Abuja at the official launch of the Coalition of Democrats for Election Reforms (CODER), Buhari, represented by his spokesman, Alhaji Buba Galadima, stated unequivocally that he was “prepared not only to work but to die, pursuing what is right and is best for Nigeria”.
He said: “All of us have no other country we call our own except Nigeria. We may have the best laws and the best hands for elections, but one word which is missing is the will to do what is right.
“From the way things are going, we are not likely to see the electoral reforms of our dreams. The next thing is to galvanise the people to make sure that what is right is done in this country. Unless we do that, we will ever remain slaves to those who sit in the comfort of their offices and dictate to the rest of us.”
The former Head of State added: “We don’t have to reach that level of revolution, but it seems those who are ruling us are pushing the people to that very level.”
Buhari also drew attention to what is going on in the Republic of Niger where the Constitutional Court annulled the plot of the president to stay a third time in office and urged Nigerians and indeed the Judiciary to emulate their Nigerien brothers.
Tinubu, in his speech, said after the independence struggle and the struggle against military dictatorship, the present campaign should be the third liberation struggle to free the country from anti-democratic forces.
“The last three elections in the Fourth Republic have shown clearly that Nigeria needs a third liberation. This is the liberation from a cabal of electoral criminals which has seized our democracy; turned elections into a kind of coup against the electorate and is seeking to end the constitutional sovereignty of Nigerians to freely choose their leaders.
“We have gathered here today to begin the third liberation movement. While the first liberation freed Nigerians from external imposition, the second freed us from internal martial colonisation; the third liberation will free Nigerians from electoral racketeering colonisation by anti-democratic elements posing as democrats.”
About the impending struggle, he said: “It is going to be dangerous. It is not going to be easy. No power is served a la carte. In South Africa, [Nelson] Mandela went to prison. Our children’s future is in jeopardy. Where is Nigeria’s future?”
While citing the controversial Ekiti State rerun governorship election as one of the reasons why US President Barack Obama shunned Nigeria during his recent visit to Africa, Tinubu said the only way to stop the decline in Nigeria is to elect the true representatives of the people into government and ensure the sanctity of the people’s votes.
The former Lagos governor urged unity among the opposition elements to pressurise all relevant institutions to ensure the relevant amendments in the constitution, adding that it is not a matter of amending the electoral laws only, “we must amend the relevant sections of the constitution”.
Tinubu urged his audience to gird their loins, saying even if for “our blood or for hunger, so be it for this country to be free”, stressing that elections must be the true echo of the voiceless majority.
In his comments, Na’Abba urged the proponents of the electoral reforms to be prepared for hard challenges as “it is not going to be a tea party”.
According to the former Speaker, “the quest for a new Constitution and Electoral Act is going to be a revolution.”
Na’Abba explained that it would not be easy because the present members of the House of Representatives are not the true representatives of the people, because of the “fraudulent nature” of their elections.
For instance, he said that in 1999, there were only six electoral petitions, but in 2007, the figure had risen to 1,700.
In view of this, Na’Abba said: “Therefore, you must be able to pay the price.”
Also, the former Vice-President Abubakar, represented by his running mate in the 2007 presidential election, Senator Ben Obi, said the struggle for electoral reforms must be seen to its conclusive end.
According to Atiku, “This battle is similar to the third battle.”
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari, cautioned against time in the race to amend the constitution and the Electoral Act.
Masari said speaking from the benefit of hindsight, it would take over 16 months to amend both the constitution and Electoral Act and by 2010, campaigns for elections would commence in earnest.
The former Speaker warned that over 90 per cent of the electoral reforms proposed would not be possible unless the constitution was amended.
The group announced the setting up of a technical committee headed by former governor of Edo State, John Odigie-Oyegun.
According to Odigie-Oyegun, presenting a draft bill of the Electoral Bill, “the new bill recommended Modified Open Secret Ballot System and that the general elections should be held by November preceding the handover date”.
Also, the bill recommended that a separate tribunal be set up for gubernatorial disputes and that electoral disputes be disposed off before winners are sworn in, while the display of voters’ register should take place over a period of two months after the close of the registration exercise.
The ceremony was attended by former Deputy National Chairman of defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Iro Dan Musa, former Minister Adamu Maina Waziri, Action Congress (AC) National Secretary, Dr. Usman Bugaji, Senator Nazif Sulieman, Senator Abu Ibrahim, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, Senator Mumura, Solomon Ewuga, former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh, Prof. Isa Yuguda, Deputy Governor of Bauchi, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, former governor of Oyo State, Lam Adesina, the Campaign Director-General of Buhari, Dr. Sule Hamma, and former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Musa Gwadabe, among others.


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