Prince Tony momoh, a founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) reacted to the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election where the party’s candidate and incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, lost to the People Democracy Party’s (PDP) candidate, Dr. Ayo Fayose. He said the election appears free and fair on the surface, but the process before and during the exercise was skewed. SEYE OLUMIDE reports.
How would you describe the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election and its implications to your party?
Let me start with the last aspect of your question. The Ekiti State governorship election has no implication on the APC; rather its implication is about the danger it portends to our democracy and election process in the country. Some Nigerians are making mistake by attributing whatever happened during election s to individuals and political party, without necessarily looking beyond. We are putting into consideration factors that are beyond the result that was declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). We are taking a critical examination of the events that took place before, during and after the elections, and in doing so, we discovered that if the situation in Ekiti should continue, where elections are skewed to favour a particular candidate or party, it is dangerous to our democracy.
What are we complaining about in the Ekiti State governorship election?
It was obvious that the process that preceded the election was a tactical deal sealed against the APC and its candidate, Fayemi. Let me explain what I mean by the tactical deal sealed before the election. It is normal that during the campaign, each party goes out to seek for support and votes from the electorate. They tend to use all manner of tactics, as far it does not go against the electorate rules and regulations and this of course, is synonymous to every party. But in Ekiti State, when the APC, as is usually the practice, tried to move into areas where the PDP campaigned to sweep their feet and to tell the electorate the need to reject a party that does not have a plan that would effect positive change in their lives, unfortunately security agents and government institutions moved in to stop our members from doing that. For God’s sake, nobody stopped or hindered the PDP people from campaigning. The other aspect was that our governor and his team were boxed completely from campaigning while the PDP candidate had a spree. Worst still, all the supporters and members of the APC who traveled to the state to support the governor, were either arrested or blocked from entering Ekiti State by security agents. I will give the instance of Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Rochas Okorocha among others, were prevented by security agents while at the same time supporters of Fayose were allowed to move freely into Ekiti. The question Nigerians should ask is why did the Federal Government have to deploy troops to Ekiti, as if we are fighting a war? All these call for questions. Even during the election, security agents were on the trail of the APC leaders in the state. Some were arrested, intimidated and stopped from seeking votes for their supporters. Tell me, if a party is prevented from relating with its supporters how would the people vote? Militarization is not of our electoral law but the PDP, because of the desperation to win, has tactically introduced it into our electoral system, which is not only bad but also dangerous to our democracy. We were aware that there was going to be heavy clampdown and institutional rigging of the election.
There seems to be confusion here. Fayemi has conceded defeat and declared that the people of Ekiti have spoken, but the party is taking a different position; would you challenge the result at the Election Tribunal?
Let me correct you, Fayemi did not say the people have spoken. What he said was if that was the wish of the people. There is a clear difference and that is what I tried to explain in the first instance, that circumstances surrounding election are beyond the outcome. There is the need to take holistic look into the entire process of the election. The party has deliberated and is also carrying out investigation. If we gather enough evidences, we would definitely challenge the result. Don’t misunderstand our position, the APC commended Fayemi for his statesmanlike attitude by accepting the result, but contrary to what you said, the governor simply posited that ‘if’ that was the wish of the people. Let me also remind you that during the 2011 Presidential election, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) said he would not go to the Election Tribunal, but the party decided to challenge the result. It is therefore two different things whether the governor has accepted the outcome of the election and what the party is doing. The party has the right to challenge the result if it is so convinced that the process that surrounded it were flawed and skewed to favour a particular candidate. All the pre-election events were documented and they are all against the electoral rule and process. The election itself appears free and fair but there are more than meets the eye. We shall also try to find out whether the election materials were tampered with.
Does the APC position not contradict reports of foreign and local observers who said that the exercise was free and fair?
I won’t dispute whatever any group or body says about the election, but that will not also stop us from what we feel is necessary to be done. I gave you the picture of what happened before and during the election. It was baffling that over 15, 000 armed soldiers were deployed by the government to Ekiti with police and even officials of the NDLEA, to go and do what? Harass the APC members and stop their supporters from voting according to their taste; that is what we are looking at. The APC is not a desperate party, it is the PDP that has been exhibiting desperation to win and capture states at all cost.
With the outcome of Ekiti governorship election, it seems your new party is not as strong and popular as you leaders make people to believe. The party lost in Ondo, it lost in Anambra and here again in Ekiti State?
It was the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that lost election in Ondo State and not the APC. For Anambra State, the party did not loose the election, INEC itself agreed that Anambra election was faulty; the governorship election in Anambra State was another institutional rigging to favour the favourite of the ruling party. The APC has the capacity to engage the ruling PDP to bring out the fact behind these elections. We have the capacity to balance power, but if they think they can use instrument of the government to suppress and oppress the peoples wish and undermine us, they would have to rethink.
Would you agree that the overbearing influence of the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu is one of the factors working against the interest of the APC, particularly in the Southwest zone?
This is APC and not ACN, CPC or the other party. It is a merger of three parties and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). It is therefore not about any individuals, it is the collection of progressives across parties who came together under one banner to rescue the country from the misrule of the PDP. Aside that, it was not Tinubu who said INEC should mismanage Anambra State governorship election. I ask you, was it Tinubu who compromised INEC materials in Anambra. The question of Tinubu or any other individual does not come up in this situation. The APC is not selling Tinubu to Nigerians; we are selling the party with a view to rescuing it from destruction. If we fail to bring the country out of the grip of the cabals in the PDP, I can assure you they will destroy it. These people do not care about anything. Tinubu is not corruption, he is not poor infrastructures, he is not insecurity, neither is he electoral malpractices; he is just a citizens of the country like any other person. I don’t see why people believe he is this and that, no and no the APC is not about an individual. What we are out to achieve is something that would benefit entire citizens of this nation and the generations to come.
Having lost in Ekiti State, what is the party’s plan to ensure the same scenario did not repeat itself in Osun State?
That is why we are not resting on our oars to cry out that something is wrong and that thing portends great danger to our democracy. I can assure you that the situation will not repeat itself in Osun State. We are going to ensure that necessary plans are in place to checkmate however the PDP planned to skew the Osun State election in favour of one person.
Another factor that people assumed caused the disenchantment against the APC is the religion, the Muslim/Muslim agenda?
I must confess that everything the PDP is using as means and instrument to perpetrate itself in power are not only dangerous to the wellbeing of this nation but they are capable of causing serious social and political explosion in the country. When did we start religious campaign in the country? Who started it and how did they start it? Take a look and you will discover that PDP is the master minder of the dangerous, unpopular and wicked campaign. It is an instrument capable of bringing down the entire nation in a swoop if they fail to desist. I couldn’t imagine we will get to this level in a nation where nobody knows who belongs to so and so religion. The PDP came up with the lies that APC is a Muslim party, later they said we are planning to present Muslim/Muslim ticket, but we proved them wrong after our national convention where we elected both Christians and Muslims into positions. We are going to elect our presidential candidate and the running mate very soon and again I will assure you that we are going to prove them wrong.
(PUBLISHED BY THE GUARDIAN SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2014.)