The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, in the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar, has again raised alarm over attempts by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to derail Nigeria’s democracy using subterfuge.
He said the party’s “snatch, grab and run” agenda of opposition parties’ mandates is inimical to democracy.
Atiku spoke through his Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, in a statement, in Abuja, on Monday.
He explained that the ideal notion of democracy does not just reside in a representative government but is essentially rooted in the plurality of ideas.
Thus, for a system to be seen as truly democratic, it must necessarily accommodate opposition and opposing views.
Atiku said, “Sadly and suddenly, we have seen a trend whereby the range of opposition engagement continues to be narrowed by the ruling party in Nigeria.
“Either through the electoral process where opposition parties are rigged out with brazen impunity, or during the post-election court processes where the judiciary is conspicuously doing the biddings of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), it has become increasingly apparent that the democracy in Nigeria is in a state of ill-health.
“It gets more curious that all the states where the courts have made controversial declarations are states being controlled by the opposition political parties.
“From Nassarawa, Kano, Zamfara and now to Plateau State, where we are witnessing a situation in which what the ruling party missed out on Election Day are being delivered to them through the courts.
“These are clearly ominous signs that threaten not just our faith in the electoral and judicial system but evidence that our democracy is compromised.
“It is also crystal clear that the ruling party will not desist from this inglorious ideology of ‘snatch, grab and run away with power.’
“It is even more worrisome that what is playing out now in the Plateau governorship election petition is a confirmation of the threat echoed by an APC lawmaker in a viral video that the ruling party will compromise the judicial process to ensure its ultimate victory in the courts.
“It, therefore, means that the times we are in are indeed ominous, and the journey ahead in rescuing our democracy from these buccaneering power grabbers is a long one. It also means that every man and woman of good conscience should come together for this common patriotic purpose.
“But we are not surprised by what is going on. In Lagos State where Tinubu holds sway as godfather, opposition became an anathema.
“Everyone including judges was forced to join his party. The few opposition members who managed to get elected were beaten to submission including at the Lagos State House of Assembly where the sole PDP member back in 2018 was suspended and arrested for gun running but mysteriously had the charges dropped immediately after he defected to the APC.
“Recently, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) withdrew a N135bn lawsuit it had instituted against an opposition senator from Anambra State less than 24 hours after he defected to the ruling party.
“These are the crude methods that Bola Tinubu has employed in order to reduce the ranks of the opposition and consolidate his hold on power.
“Is it not mysterious that it was the same panel that sat and heard all the election petition cases from Plateau State before the Court of Appeal?
“ How is it that in election cases where the PDP came first and the APC came second, the court ordered that the APC be declared winner while in elections where the PDP came first and Labour Party came second, the courts ordered a rerun in order to give the APC a chance of victory?
“As Justice Dattijo Muhammad said in his valedictory speech which has also been buttressed by Olumide Akpata, the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association, the judgments emanating from courts in recent times have been questionable and show obvious compromise.
“As Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) put it recently, the judiciary under military dictatorship was much more courageous and had better integrity than what we have today.
“It is obvious that the APC has turned the once respected Nigerian judiciary to a “cash and carry” one where politicians who don’t participate in primaries are named as candidates while actual winners of elections are sacked for flimsy reasons. They simply deliver judgments but not justice.
“Apart from the judiciary, Tinubu has already appointed his loyalists as Resident Electoral Commissioners who have now been confirmed by Sen. Godswill Akpabio, his lackey who is supposed to be heading an independent arm of government. This is how the APC plans to impose a one-party state on Nigerians.”
The former Vice President further said, “Eternal vigilance remains the watch word if Nigeria’s democracy will survive the APC onslaught on our democracy and the institutions that are supposed to check the excesses of the ruling party.”