Oshiomhole Warns Against Tampering With May 29 Handing Over Date

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, Sept 21, (THEWILL) - Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole today in Abuja threw a spanner in the emerging consensus that suggests an imminent shift in the election date already set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he warned that nothing should touch the sanctity of May 29 as the beginning of a new government and the termination of the old.

His position was even as majority of the registered political parties endorsed the proposal by INEC, for a shift in the 2011 election timetable.

Oshiomhole cautioned against any thinking along that line and warned that he would embark on street protests against the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, should he attempt to tamper with the May 29 hand over date under the guise of time extension for INEC.

The Governor who spoke at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Labour Party in Abuja, told newsmen after addressing the NEC members, that he would join others to gang up against the government of Goodluck Jonathan should it make nonsense of the electoral process, adding that the crisis INEC found itself in was a creation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ruling government.

He said that though he supports time extension for INEC, May 29 must remain non-negotiable, noting that he would be ready to team up with other progressives to fight the Federal Government over any foul play as regards 2011 elections.

While accusing the Federal Government of being responsible for the confusion INEC has found itself in and the need for all Nigerians to insist that the 2011 election must be free and fair without compromising the handover date, he noted; "the federal Government should be asked why it delayed the announcement of the INEC Chairman, why it foot dragged the signing of the Electoral Act."

Oshiomhole said everything should be done to help INEC conduct credible elections including canvassing for time extension but faulted the argument that the fixing of elections for January was to allow for conclusion on post election litigations.

He explained that he was of the view that even if elections held in January, there was no provision that ensures that litigations are concluded before May 29, pointing out that there was no qualitative difference in conducting the election in April rather than January in as much as the government keeps faith with May 29.

"This whole crisis was foreseeable, because we all knew we would have a new government on May 29, why the ruling party delayed the reorganization of INEC is best known to them. So all this rushing wass foreseeable and Nigerians wanted changes in INEC much earlier. For reasons best known to them, those who had to do it delayed it.

"The debate in my view should not be about changing the tenure of the present government, the tenure must end on May 29, and this is not negotiable. However, when the election holds is quite negotiable. We used to have elections in April but now they say January, now if we postpone till April, we can still swear in the winner on May 29.

"In any event with the current arrangement, if it holds in January as planned, there is no provision that will ensure litigations are concluded before May 29 even if elections are held in January.

"There is therefore no qualitative difference in the timing if INEC wants more time to organize good elections and It feels April will be suitable so be it and they can still be faithful to May 29 and therefore make changes not to the handover date but when elections are to held," the Governor of Edo State said.