INEC must be completely neutral in conducting elections – Tomide Akinribido
The EkimogunMirror team had an exclusive interview with Tomide Akinribido, one of Ondo young and vibrant politicians, who is the Ondo State Director of the People’s Democratic Party Patriots Alliance (PDPPA). He talked about the objectives of the PDPPA and what makes it quite different from other political groups. He also gave his verdict on the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari led government and the recent elections conducted by INEC in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
You were recently nominated as the Ondo State Director of PDPPA. What is the objective of the group?
Thank you for having me. The PDPPA is an alliance group of the PDP. After the 2015 elections,we realised Nigerians have embraced deceit under the disguise of “Change” and we are at the risk of becoming a one-party state. In view of this, several PDP members, largely youths, came together to form the PDPPA and our main objective is to restructure and reposition the PDP and make it more attractive,accommodating and acceptable to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe,religion and status,for effective leadership and nation building.
There have been several youth groups affiliated to the PDP and their functions look quite similar to what you just highlighted, what makes the PDPPA distinct?
What makes the PDPPA distinct is that we are not an “election-time” group. We didn’t just come together during electoral campaigns for the purpose of making money in exchange for supporting the PDP. Rather,we formed the group after the party lost elections and fell out of power – with the motive to help rebuild the party and get back to winning ways in future elections.I want to emphasise that we are the only national group that have been formed in this regard with viable national structures and ably recognised by the National body of the PDP.
As the State director, what plans are in place to propagate the gospel of the PDPPA in Ondo State?
We have moved swiftly already by forming an encompassing state executive council, by this I mean members of the excos were picked from the three senatorial districts of Ondo State. Don’t forget that the main aim of the group is to rebuild the PDP and make it viable enough to win future elections, so among our state excos are committed youths who are intellectuals in various fields and have considerable experience in politicking and electioneering activities. Already, we have distributed membership forms across tertiary institutions and other places of interests across the state and the feedback we have gotten are impressive,our aim is to have at least 10,000 physical members of the group on ground in Ondo State to make us a dominating force in the state politics
The Ondo state gubernatorial election is in sight, how do the PDPPA intend to galvanise support for the PDP?
As earlier said, we are currently engaging in membership drive across the state. No doubt, we have in the state a working PDP Government that is easily one of the best in the country judging by performance index. We in the PDPPA will partner with the state government and the Ondo state PDP to sell the achievements of the party and government in the state to the residents. We will educate and enlighten the state residents on the massive benefits of electing a PDP candidate in the 2016 governorship election,we will engage in relative comparison of neighbouring APC state governments with the Ondo state government and point out numerous ways in which our state is well ahead of them in terms of development and stability under a PDP Government. We will organise rallies, seminars and general publicity activities for the PDP in Ondo state and we are sure the majority of Ondo state residents will support and vote for the PDP in the forthcoming election
The recent Bayelsa and Kogi elections conducted by INEC were marred by violence and alleged electoral malpractices. What is your advice for INEC in the wake of Edo and Ondo elections next year?
As a Nigerian, I’m ashamed by the conduct of INEC in the two elections held in Kogi and Bayelsa, they displayed the highest level of incompetence and unprofessionalism in both elections. I will advise that the leadership of that very important electoral body be changed before the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo next year elections are the pillar of democracy, the conduct of a free, f air and credible election cannot be over-emphasised, therefore I will advise that the President rises above party loyalty and remember his official vow to Nigerians to always put the love of the country above personal considerations. INEC must be completely neutral in conducting elections and as we prepare for Ondo election. I will hope they won’t come with the aim of working with the ruling federal party to declare a candidate/party that wasn’t elected by the good people of our state. INEC and security officials that will partake in the Ondo election must be adequately trained on how to discharge their functions without bias,anything short of this will portend doom for our country
The anti-corruption crusade of the present government is gaining more momentum but people in the opposition camp perceived it selective. What do you think the government can do to make it encompassing?
We can’t deny the fact that corruption is one of the factors that have hindered the development of our Country. However, the anti-corruption crusade can only be effective and achieve the desired result if it is fought on all sides irrespective of party affiliations, tribe or religion. What we have right now under President Buhari cannot be said to be anti-corruption crusade,it is at best selective justice and reeks of political persecution and vendetta. A situation where Several members of the opposition have been invited for questioning,arrested or arraigned by security officials but no member of the ruling party has yet been invited cannot be said to sincere anti-corruption crusade. We have several high-profile members of the ruling party who have been accused of corruption cases with staring evidences,yet none of them have been invited for questioning by the EFCC or ICPC,while members of the opposition are being arrested or invited almost on a daily basis…to make the anti-corruption crusade effective and result-oriented,certain members of the Federal Executive council who have been accused of corruption cases while holding past political offices must be suspended by the President while they go to prove their innocence in the court,and the security agencies must also go after certain leaders of the ruling party who have been accused of corruption cases. Lastly, since the major revelations of the ongoing alleged $2.1billion arms deal investigations points that a large chunk of the money was illegally used to fund the Presidential campaign of the PDP,the President must now direct that an impartial investigation of the APC presidential campaign funding must also be carried out. This will portray the President as sincere in the anti-corruption crusade.
What is your assessment of the PDP’s response to national issues as an opposition party with the dwindling economy and continuous fuel scarcity?
The job of the opposition is not to unnecessarily heat up the polity or aggravate tension in the country;therefore we must give kudos to the PDP leadership for playing decent politics and not politicising governance as it relates to the citizen’s welfare as against how the APC behaved when they were in the opposition. I’m aware that the PDP Leadership has continually called for the President to stop name-calling or blame-shifting and get to work on the economy which is showing signs of recession and also to pay the subsidy outstanding payments to oil marketers which is said to be responsible for the long fuel scarcity in the country. We will continue to support the PDP in playing the role of opposition by calling the attention of the ruling party and Federal Government to issues affecting the development of Nigeria and welfare of Nigerians without playing bad-blood politics. The PDPPA organised a “democracy rally” few weeks ago in Uyo, Akwa-ibom state to call the attention of the federal government to the lawlessness of security agencies depicted in the acts of flagrant disobedience to valid court orders and obvious undemocratic judicial pronouncements in electoral cases
In conclusion, What message do you have good people of Ondo state and members of PDPPA?
I want to thank the good people of Ondo state and teeming members of PDPPA for standing by the PDP in the state, this is evident by how the state voters massively elected PDP members in the state house of assembly elections earlier in the year. This portrays that they are happy with the PDP as the ruling party in Ondo state and I will appeal to them to continue to support the administration of Governor Olusegun Mimiko and the PDP in Ondo state and to vote overwhelmingly for the PDP in the October 2016 election as it is the only party that can guarantee continuous development in the state.