Oshiomhole: Mercantile parties collecting money to endorse candidates


All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole has said that some of the registered political parties have rendered useless the idea behind the Supreme Court judgement, which states that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should register as many groups as possible as political parties.

Oshiomhole said many of the existing political parties have been busy making brisk business from the so-called bigger parties.

He accused them of demanding for money from them to endorse their candidates, instead of producing their own presidential candidates.

Speaking when a delegation of the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute visited the APC headquarters in Abuja yesterday, Oshiomhole also lashed out at civil society groups, many of whom he claimed were being sponsored by political parties as election observers.

He said as Edo State governor, some of such civil society groups came to solicit for money from him to write favorable report.

The APC Chairman said many political parties, which he described as democratic merchants, have approached him demanding for money for them to endorse the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He lamented that the entire political process is being turned into a platform for trading.

Oshiomhole said: “Our constitution guaranteed the freedom of association, INEC tried to restrict the registration of political parties. The judiciary said no you can register anybody who wants to. But the result is that we have a long ballot paper, which poses challenges on election day with regard to how people are going to identify who to vote for.

“But, more worrisome is that you form a party today, tomorrow you gang up that we are not producing candidates; we are supporting this. I can tell you how many requests I have from these so-called political parties that if you pay me this, we will announce that we are supporting your presidential candidate.

“So, people have formed political parties as platform for trading. We must be careful so that in the name of freedom, we do not create democratic merchants, creating more confusion, generating more heat.”

The APC Chairman said it was very unfair of the opposition to accuse President Muhammadu Buhari of not being committed to a free and fair election or using security agents to intimidate opponents, when he had in fact insisted that governors whose security details were withdrawn be given back their security.

He said: “Our President has been a victim of rigging and a compromised judiciary and I was rigged out by President Obasanjo’s government. But we have made some progress and these are things you can cross-check. We have moved from a process where the PDP as the ruling will arrogantly announced that there is no vacancy, whether in a Government House in the case of state government or in the Presidency, where they said they would govern for 60 years.

“It was common to find police carrying ballot boxes on election day and these were captured on camera and published on front pages of newspapers. But we had a former President in Obasanjo, who publicly said last year that nobody could be governor on his party platform unless he approved.

“He entrenched this culture of compromising internal democracy within the political parties and writing results on election day and challenging those who are victims to go to court and the court compromised the process. I was a victim of that. As a person, I come from civil society background.”

Oshiomhole told his visitors that the PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar allegedly emerged through a fraudulent process, adding that the temptation to use fraud to go further was strong.

He said: “The PDP candidate bought his ticket paying more dollars to all delegates than his rivals. If you spent millions of dollars to procure your candidature, I don’t think it will be difficult to sustain the argument that vote-buying is something that the opposition is used to.”

On the neutrality of security agencies, the ruling party’s chairman said: “I will be more at home if specific examples can be given that on certain day, a security man did something against an opposition. Perception is okay, but it may not be real. What is apparent may not be real. So, I am more at home when specific examples are given.

The PDP, Oshiomhole said, was found of throwing about “unfounded allegations”.

He alleged that the National Assembly hurriedly amended the Electoral Act as a booby trap for INEC and the ruling party to favour the PDP and opposition-controlled states.

He talked about the National Peace Council (NPC) and added that the APC was pleased with the peace accord signed by the political parties and their candidates.

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