Nigerians Must Not Die For Elections To Hold On Schedule — UDP Presidential Candidate

Calling for caution and thoughtful planning within the framework of the law, Mr. Godson Okoye, the presidential candidate of the United Democratic Part (UDP), in this interview with EZEOCHA NZEH in Abuja, says lives of Nigerians must not be sacrificed for the February Presidential and other elections to hold on schedule.

What are your expectations at this last consultative meeting with INEC ahead of the February elections and series of talks for the shifting of election date?

We are going to have updates on the PVC distribution. It is something that is necessary, considering the tension in the country. This election is organised for political parties. No other group puts up a candidate except the political parties and we do not have independent candidates yet. Therefore, it is something the political parties and INEC must discuss and find a way out.

What other vital aspects of the preparation should INEC and the political parties discuss and iron out before the election?

   There should not be no-go area as far as we are concerned. Of course, the PVC is the major issue at hand. Against the backdrop of information making the rounds that the commission has not distributed about 20 million PVCs, this number by any standard is more than enough to make or mar the election. That is the population of some countries. As a presidential candidate, it is of serious importance to me that all potential voters have their PVCs because if they do not, it is going to be a very big problem to the smooth conduct of the election.

What is your position and that of your party on the calls for the postponement of this election?

    We are here to listen to INEC, let’s know what their views are: If they can guarantee that all the cards will be distributed before then, fine; if they don’t, we are going to weigh the options and come out with a position. 

   Of course, if it means that the election should be shifted, why not. It would not be the first time elections care shifted in this country. Once upon a time, the president was on his village to vote and report came in the morning of the election that it has been shifted and heavens did not fall, nothing happened. We were briefed on the reasons and for the postponement and we all accepted that decision.

   So, this time around, it is not because people have hyped it; if there is convincing reasons to shift the election, INEC must not insist that election must be held when they know that it would pose more problems for the country. For example, the security situation in some parts of the country is also a major issue that we should not loose sight of. 

  It is not only about PVCs, the European Union has just said they would boycott monitoring the election in the North East. This is a very large chunk of the country. How do you guarantee the conduct of a free, fair, credible and violence-free election in that war-torn part if the country, which has remained under insurgency rule?

If eventually the election is postponed, would you say that INEC had taken a better decision or should the Election Management Body be blamed for lack of adequate preparations?

    This is not going to be a blame game. This election is about the faith and destiny of this country. If it rains, it rains on everybody. So, it is not about blames. INEC is not in charge of the country’s security, they are not the Army. 

    The fact is that a part of the country is at war, a very devastating one for that matter. It would be foolhardy to say that they should go there because we want the election to go on. No Nigerian should loose his or her life because we are conducting election.

    Let us stop seeing this election as a ‘must-be-done’ thing. Even if we shift the election today, we still have enough time that is within the law before the May 29 hand over date.

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