SEVENTEEN political parties on Monday in Abuja joined the Peoples Democratic Party to call for the postponement of the Ondo State governorship election slated for Saturday.
They alleged that the level of insecurity in the state had risen to what they described as an unbearable level, thereby forcing their candidates to stop campaigning across the state.
They threatened that if the commission refused to postpone the election, they would take further steps in the shortest time.
The National Chairman of Labour Party, Alhaji Abdulkardri Abdusalam, read a speech on behalf of other parties at a press conference in Abuja.
In the speech titled, “The urgent need for postponing the Ondo State governorship election date to avoid inevitable crises,” Abdulsalam stated that Nigeria could not afford to have Ondo State engulfed in “avoidable political crises orchestrated by a few individuals”.
The outgoing Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, came into office through Labour Party before defecting to the PDP.
Mimiko’s candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), who is also the candidate of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the party, had been disqualified by INEC.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, was affirmed by INEC based on a court ruling, as the candidate of the party for the election.
Ibrahim is the candidate of the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the party.
The Sheriff faction had asked the electoral commission to disregard the call for the postponement of the election.
It said the faction and its candidate were ready for the election.
Apart from the LP, other political parties which called for the postponement of the election on Monday included the United Progressives Party, National Conscience Party, African Democratic Congress, Peoples Redemption Party, Progressives Peoples Alliance and Peoples Party of Nigeria.
Others were the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Better Nigeria Progressive Party, Democratic Peoples Congress, Democratic Peoples Party, Peoples for Democratic Change, Peoples Party of Nigeria, United Democratic Party, Advance Congress of Democrats, Peoples Progressives Party and Independent Democrats.
Majority of these political parties are believed not to be on the ground in the state.
Abdulasalam said, “Another critical concern is the growing level of violence and insecurity in the Ondo political environment prior to the governorship election on Saturday.
“In recognition of this ugly fact, we also take this opportunity to call on the relevant security agencies (the Police, DSS, NSCDC), to immediately put pressure on INEC to postpone the election date to a possible date after the court processes have been completed, but within the constitutional provisions, to guarantee a peaceful and healthy political environment for the election.
“In the Edo State governorship election, which held a few months ago, INEC upheld the candidacy of the Senator Ahmed Markarfi-led PDP as the authentic group to present a candidate for the party; now in the Ondo State governorship election slated for Saturday, the same electoral umpire is upholding the governorship candidacy of the Senator Sheriff-led faction of the party under the guise of obeying a court order.
“This quagmire must be resolved by the court even if this drags on to the Supreme Court before any meaningful election can take place in Ondo State.
“If INEC is blatantly intimidated into abdicating its basic function of monitoring and certifying the validity of party primary elections for the selection of candidates, and instead acquiesce by allowing the court to arbitrarily pick candidates without INEC-monitored primaries then our democracy is becoming gravely injured, needing urgent ambulatory care and political surgery.”
Shortly after the press conference, the spokesperson for the Makarfi-led PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, asked INEC to shift the election by three weeks.
He said the shift would enable the Supreme Court to adjudicate on the case before it.
Apart from this, he said if Jegede won, he would have the opportunity to campaign like other candidates.
Meanwhile, four days to the election hundreds of youths in the state stormed the INEC office in Akure, on Monday, demanding the postponement of the election.
They also called on INEC to include Jegede’s name in the list of the candidates that would contest the election.
Specifically, the youths said the postponement of the election would enable the Appeal court to conclude on the governorship candidacy litigation between Jegede and Ibrahim.
The protesters were armed with placards bearing various inscriptions such as “No Jegede, no election,” “Don’t create discord out of order,” “We say no to interference,” “Stop the ongoing tyranny,” among others.
It, however, took the intervention of the police and the officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps before the protesting youths could be brought under control.
The protesters vowed not to vacate the INEC office unless the commission promised to put the election on hold until the Court of Appeal decided the case.
One of the protesters, Mr. Oluwatuyi Adekanmbi, said youths across the state were protesting the decision of INEC to go on with the election without waiting for the outcome of the suit before the Appeal court.
He stated that it would be an injustice if INEC declared a member of the PDP as the party’s candidate for the governorship election when there was a case pending at the court over the candidate’s eligibility.
He said, “We are liberal in Ondo State, but we are not cowards. We are calling on INEC and all the powers that be not to sweep this matter under the carpet. We want justice to prevail; the Federal Government should encourage the youths by laying good examples and allowing the court to decide the authentic candidate.
“This election cannot go on without Jegede’s name as the PDP candidate. Jimoh Ibrahim is not a member of our party and cannot be our candidate. If they decide to go on with this conspiracy, it will not work. Youths in Ondo State collectively call for justice and will vehemently oppose this.’’
“The candidacy of any party cannot be won through the backdoor. Eyitayo Jegede emerged through the normal process to emerge as the candidate of the party and any attempt to impose any other candidate on us in the state will cause chaos.”