Social Democratic Party (SDP) has cautioned the Federal Government against ignoring concerns over the capacity of the current leadership of Independent Electoral Commission to conduct 2019 general elections in a free and fair manner.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, National Secretary of SDP, Mr Shehu Gabam, said that from the party’s assessment and findings, INEC as presently constituted may not be able to meet expectations of Nigerians on credible and transparent elections in 2019.
“There are some appointees at INEC that are said to have been taking sides politically and these are fundamental issues that should be addressed in order to have free and fair election.
“A lot needs to be done and I can tell you that we in SDP, from our assessments and findings so far, we have not seen that deliberate attempt to conduct free and fair election by INEC,” he said.
Gabam said from the arguments over the reordering of the election sequence it was clear there were political motives.
The SDP scribe said his party believed that for the country to have a free and fair election in 2019, the order of election had to be changed so that presidential election will come last.
“If you want to conduct free and fair elections in this country, you must not allow the presidential election to come first. Any attempt to allow the presidential election to come first, increases the capacity of the winning party to manipulate subsequent elections because there would be an overbearing influence on the electoral process, thereby tinkering with other elections.
“It is on record that once a president is elected, he has an overbearing power on subsequent elections for governors, senators, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly,” he said.
With regard to June 12 Anniversary celebration which has been declared as Democracy Day, Gabam said SDP was in support of the decision to honour the presumed winner of the election late Chief MKO Abiola and the recognition of June 12 as the genuine democracy day.
He however said what the party viewed as improper was the attempt by APC-led administration to politicise it and to score cheap political point.
While appreciating Federal Government’s recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day, including the honour to be bestowed on Abiola, SDP expressed its objection to the honour conferred on his running mate, Mr Babagana Kingibe.
The party said Kingibe did not deserve to be honoured along with Abiola since the politician allegedly denounced the joint presidential ticket with Abiola in order to become a minister during the military regime led by late Mr Sani Abacha.