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Kogi CNPP not subservient to state govt - Aliu

Published by Tribune on Thu, 27 Sep 2012


The plan to conduct local government election into the 21 local government councils in Kogi State in May, 2013 is already creating tension in the state.The State chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Barrister Abubakar Aliu, speaks with Yekini Jimoh on the election and other issues affecting the state.THERE is this allegation in the state that the opposition parties in the state are not forthcoming in terms of striving to curtail the alleged excesses of the ruling government in the state.I think the allegation is totally false because since inception of my leadership in the CNPP, I have tried as much as possible to be constructive in the way we handle the state government.We hear often times that we are expected to go to war with the government in power before some people can be convinced that we are working. But for us, we have always seen a situation where, after election, a governorship candidate emerges as governor and we, as the opposition parties under the aegis of CNPP, try as much as possible to rally round that government because the governor automatically becomes the father and the leader of all Kogites, irrespective of party affiliation.That is the way we see politics and for us to get the dividends of democracy, I think it is in our interest to behave that way. That is what we have been doing and we shall continue in that feat. Where the government has erred or failed to perform, we have always challenged that constructively, without fear or favour.The state is set to conduct local government election after the expiration of the former executives. How would you assess the arrangement made for the election'First and foremost, we have to understand that the CNPP is in court over the local government council election. We went to court to challenge the validity of the election being held in December.As a matter of credibility, we endorsed the candidacy of Captain Idris Wada during the last governorship election, but that does not take away the fact that when things are going wrong, we should do what we are supposed to do as opposition parties. This acts as checks and balances and I hope and believe that the governor, in his wisdom, understands our stand in this regard.Now, coming to the issue of the council election, we are challenging a lot of abnormalities in the system. First of all, the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) rolled out its timetable sometime in the month of July 2012, without referring to us. It was supposed to have invited all the political parties in the state to a round table discussion because without the political parties, there cannot be SIEC or election in the state.I was made to understand from my inquiries that even the People Democratic Party (PDP), which is the ruling party in the state, was not consulted too. Yet, the SIEC went ahead and brought out a timetable for the election. The proposed date of 8 December, 2012 for the election was not feasible, and the election has been shifted to May 4 next year.We are supposed to hold a meeting of all political parties with other stakeholders, so that we can agree on a suitable date for the election. But this was done, which was the first big mistake the SIEC committed.Second, the tenure of the present SIEC executive has since expired. The SIEC has not been duly reconstituted and yet it wants to conduct local government election. Third, under Section 34 of the Kogi State electoral law, for you to be Commissioner of SIEC, you must above board; that is, you must be somebody with credibility and pedigree.The persons to be appointed as the chairman and commissioners should not be members of any political party. But what do we have' We have in our kitty, documents to show that the present chairman of SIEC was a candidate in the last House of Assembly primary election conducted in Kabba 'Bunu Local Government Area. He lost and that proves that he is a member of PDP because he contested on the platform of the party.The commissioner from Ibaji has his name as number one in the PDP register in Ibaji Local Government Area and many of them are like that. Now, if we go against Section 34 of the state electoral law, how can we get fairness, justice and neutrality in that kind of shoddy election'What the government has put in place as a commission operates as an illegal body that will bring about illegality and once we have an illegal commission, it will also bring out chairmen and councilors that will not be productive, representatives who will not care for the people and, at the end of the day, we will have three years of jamboree, of non-productivity. Then people will be complaining that the local governments are not working. It is better to speak out now so that the mistake can be corrected no matter how long it takes. I don't see anything sacrosanct about the proposed council election. Once we can put our house in order and once all these anomalies are corrected, the council election can go ahead. There should be a level playing field for all political parties in the state and for those that know the history of the state in the area of local government election, how many opposition parties have won council chairmanship positions' It was because of anomalies like this where all the former chairmen and commissioners of the SIEC were members of a political party, specifically the ruling party .We feel that, at this point in time, this mistake should be corrected once and for all so that democracy can thrive in the state. If the government forces the SIEC to conduct the election, then we will meet in court to seek redress, even though the issue is already before the court.Recently in Lagos State, local government election was conducted which was won by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in virtually all the local government councils. Are you saying that such a thing cannot happen in Kogi State'This depends on the ideal situation. The state you have mentioned, I do not live there and neither am I from there. But you should also bear in mind that the SIEC chairman in Lagos State is a retired Chief Judge and a person of that calibre has a high degree of pedigree to be neutral in conducting free, fair and credible elections. But in Kogi State, the situation is not the same.We have said it unequivocally that the commission members are card-carrying members of the PDP and there is no way we can we can have fairness and justice in the election. In Kogi State, we have people that do not belong to any political party. Such people should be called upon to serve in the commission so that we can have free and fair election. Anything short of that will make the process insulting and against the law.How do you see the recent Federal High Court judgment on the case between Captain Wada and Jubril Echocho, where Echocho's case was dismissed' Though we are not members of the PDP, we have a working arrangement with the present government in power. We are not surprised by the outcome of the judgment. Looking at the case, it was like asking the Federal High Court to interpret the judgment of the Supreme Court which, in any case, is not possible.The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country and the lower courts cannot interpret the judgment of the Supreme Court. You can only go back to the same Supreme Court to interpret the judgment. I think that was why the case went that way and we are happy about it because we need to get the state running. The state is not moving forward in terms of infrastructures development.Since 2003, the PDP has been rulling the state, allegedly without meaningful development. But surprisingly, the CNPP endorsed Wada, a PDP candidate, in the last gubernatorial election. Don't you think that you have shot yourselves in the foot' Politics is all about planning and vision. We are not relenting on our efforts. We did endorse Wada after looking at the situation in the state at that time. For us to defeat what was about to happen when a particular party sought the support of five other states to usurp power in Kogi, we didn't have any option but to rally round Wada who, by virtue of his track records, we believed could lead us. We did so, for the state to have absolute peace because, without peace, there can be no meaningful development in the state.
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