19 February 2019

Nigeria: Buhari's Minister Tackles Oshiomhole, Says He Has No Moral Right to Attack INEC Chairman

Adams Oshiomhole is a terrible electoral umpire and has no moral pedigree to call for the resignation of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a minister has said.

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, stated this at his home in Ibadan on Monday while addressing journalists.

Mr Shittu sought to be the governor of Oyo State on the platform of the ruling party, APC. He was disqualified from contesting the primaries by an APC screening committee set up by the leadership of the party. Mr Oshiomhole, the APC national chairman, had questioned Mr Shittu's governorship ambition after the minister was exposed by PREMIUM TIMES for skipping the mandatory National Youth Service Corps.

On Monday, Mr Shittu also rejected calls for the removal of Mahmood Yakubu as the INEC chairman.

He said the removal of Mr Yakubu due to INEC's postponement of the general elections may cause more havoc to the commission.

INEC under Mr Yakubu had in the early hours of Saturday announced the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections to February 23 from February 16. It also announced the postponement of the governorship and state assembly elections from March 2 to March 9.

Mr Yakubu has been criticised by many Nigerians including Mr Oshiomhole with some calling for his resignation.

But Mr Shittu, while addressing journalists at his Ibadan residence on Monday, said even if the INEC chairman leaves office now, the election may need to be postponed for the incoming chairman to prepare for fresh elections that would be credible, free and fair.

He then attacked Mr Oshiomhole saying he had no moral right to attack the INEC chairman.

"When Oshiomhole supervised that party primaries elections, which can be described as most horrible and corrupt in the history of the party, who called for his resignation?

"I will not support such call for resignation of the INEC chairman. To err is human. We have not seen any political motivation as to what has happened in INEC.

"If Oshiomhole calls for resignation of the INEC chairman, he should also be preparing to resign as chairman of APC for conducting primaries marred by irregularities, and even accused of corruption in its conduct. Did anybody ask him to resign for the horrible management of primary elections under his watch?"

Mr Oshiomhole was criticised by many leaders of the APC including first lady Aisha Buhari for his handling of the APC primaries across the country. Many of the primaries were marred by allegations of fraud, manipulation, improper interference and violence. The APC chairman was also questioned by the State Security Service after some members of his party accused him of receiving bribes during the primaries.

In defending Mr Yakubu, Mr Shittu argued that this was the first general election to be supervised by the lecturer.

"This is the first election that Professor Yakubu would be conducting, so we need to give him the benefit of doubt and I will advise that all the political parties should be vigilant.

"If you bring in another chairman, when does such person begin to learn the process? Or will you on the basis of that call for another rescheduling of the elections? Certainly, it is unacceptable for anyone to ask for resignation of INEC chairman."

Mr Shittu also said political parties should be allowed to continue campaigns till 24 hours before the elections based on the electoral law. INEC had initially said campaigns remain suspended despite the postponement of the elections. The electoral body, however, reversed itself on Monday evening.

Nigeria

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