Governor Elechi's War against ANPP: Goodbye to Free Elections?
Shekarau For Nigeria (SFN) is outraged and utterly shocked by the pronouncements made by Governor Martins Elechi of Ebonyi State yesterday over the planned kick-off of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) Presidential Campaign scheduled for Monday, 7th March 2011 at Abakaliki. The banning of the campaign rally is also totally antithetical to democracy, morally reprehensible and unacceptable. We are, therefore, fully determined to carry out the event because the enthronement of genuine democracy is always accompanied by threats and even outright violence against democrats.
Even more unacceptable and shocking were the reasons proffered by the governor in a statewide broadcast announcing the banning of the event yesterday. According to Governor Elechi, the ANPP national chairman and head of the party's Presidential Campaign Council, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has planned to cause a breakdown of law and order that would force the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the state. Elechi also alluded to plans of unleashing a vicious propaganda against him. The most ridiculous reason for the ban was that the ANPP had mapped out plans to arrest key supporters of the government and the governor and sending them to police zone six, Calabar, for interrogation, detention and possible imprisonment!
For the avoidance of all doubt, neither the ANPP nor SFN has any plans other than to rally its teeming supporters in the Southeast geopolitical zone and canvass for the support of the discerning electorate of that dynamic and industrious region of our federation. Ebonyi State was chosen for the flag off of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau's presidential campaign rallies not just because it is the home state of the ANPP's national chairman but more importantly to honor the teeming supporters of the party in the zone. The insinuation that the state capital is too small and provincial to accommodate a presidential campaign rally is simply laughable as Abakaliki recently hosted the presidential rally of the PDP as well as the Southeast PDP women's rally.
Governor Elechi's illegal and undemocratic pronouncements against the ANPP presidential campaign rally is the latest in a long list of infractions by the embattled and fractious ruling party. The lack of a level playing ground is daily becoming glaring as the general elections approach and the PDP is coming to terms with its growing unpopularity nationwide.
In a similar development, the North Central Zonal rally of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) planned for Minna on March 3 was cancelled by the police on the grounds that it coincided with the PDP's Niger State Zone A Senatorial campaign rally scheduled for Suleja on the same date. The reasons advanced were that security reports indicated there could be a clash between the supporters of the two parties even though the distance between Minna and Suleja is 125 kilometers! It could be recalled that the CPC had earlier being denied the use of their choice venue by the Niger State government. Ironically, the police said they permitted the PDP rally over the CPC's because the former was able to name a definite venue for their rally.
Another opposition party facing obstacles in its campaign in PDP-controlled states is the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which was similarly banned from holding its rally at the Makurdi Township Stadium by the Benue State government yesterday. Earlier, the party alleged that its rally in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital was cancelled by the authorities on the grounds that the state governor wanted to host his rally on the same date!
All these tyrannical maneuvers would hasten rather than delay the imminent exit of PDP from power at the April general elections. Fortunately, democracy has always depended on the people and their choice and the overwhelming excitement generated by the emergence of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau as the presidential candidate of the ANPP shows clearly that Nigerians have identified the best alternative to the clueless and inept PDP administration. May the Almighty God help Nigeria witness credible, free, fair and peaceful elections come April 2011.