BusinessDay

Nigerians will know their next president in 8 days – Ayu

…. expresses fear that insecurity may affect 2023 elections ….says “ signals not encouraging “

As the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), put finishing touches to its May 28 and 29 national convention, the party’s national Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, on Friday, assured that Nigerians will know their next President in eight days.

This is just as Ayu expressed fears that the current spate of insecurity may hinder free and fair elections in 2023.

Ayu speaking when he received a delegation of the European Union (EU) at the Wadata plaza National Secretariat of the party, led by the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, stated that “ We know that in the next eight days, we will know the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

According to him, “once the delegates in our political party, cast their votes, and the pronouncement is made on who is the candidate of the PDP, we will not be calling him candidate of the PDP, we will be calling him the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Ayu maintained that as it is the tradition of the party, “we want our convention to be very transparent, we will provide a fair and open view to everybody of all 15 presidential aspirants”.

Ayu, while expressing the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been doing it’s best, added that “ we still think they can do better, especially in the area of voters registration in Nigeria, which he described as “very low”.

He noted that it is not just the mobilization by the political parties, “but also the technical capacity of INEC to go out there and register Nigerians because in a population of almost 200 million People we expect that 40% of the population be captured on the electoral register and that is not the case”.

“I think what we have today may be less than 5% and it’s not good enough.

He therefore, appealed to friends of Nigeria, including the EU, to help in strengthening the technical capacity of INEC, to make sure the more people are captured on the electoral register.

Ayu also drew the attention of the European Union to the need for free and fair elections in the country, adding that “the signals that we’re getting are not very encouraging”.

“Today, insecurity is at it’s peak and extending beyond the rural areas and even coming to the urban centers.

“We worry about post elections as a political party. We have demonstrated that democracy is best when you transit smoothly from one electoral cycle to the other. And therefore, we want everybody to appreciate what we did when we lost elections in 2015.

He recalled that the PDP did not use agencies of the state to stay in power.

“We conceded defeat and when we win, we expect those who are currently in government to concede defeat because they are going to lose the next election.

Read also: 2023 presidential election: Amosun hopes to clinch victory at APC primaries

Ayu also warned the current administration not to “ hang in there and create an atmosphere of instability in the country. So the current escalation of violence in the country we hope, and we pray, that it is not deliberately created to extend the tenure of this administration which has failed the country.

“So we hope that when they lose, they also will willingly concede defeat, and hand over power to the Nigerian people.

Ayu, appreciated the interest of the EU in the growth of democracy in Nigeria. “ For the past 24 years that this political party came on board and helped to stabilize democracy in Nigeria, the European Union has actually been a very worthy partner”.

“They’ve always given support, they’ve shown interest, and we hope this will continue, because we don’t want to return to the dark days of dictatorship.
Ayu while noting that no nation can live in isolation, expressed hopes that the European Union will continue to play an important role in the nation’s affairs.
“As a party who had been in power, We strengthened the economy when we came in, although that has gone down badly. For example, in our foreign debts, we virtually made Nigeria a debt-free country, as a government.

“Today, we are one of the most indebted countries in the world, It is our hope that this will not continue because it has direct impact on the Nigerian people, especially in the employment opportunities, lack of attention to even education and industrialisation.

“This has worsened the conditions of our people, particularly the youths. As a party, these are the areas we’re interested in addressing when we come back to power because we believe that Nigerians will vote for the People’s Democratic Party in the next election. But for that to happen, we believe that the electoral umpire has to be credible.

The European Ambassador, had in her earlier remarks, expressed appreciation to the PDP leadership for receiving delegation .

“ We are here to know each other and also familiarise with each other, as this is also part of the consultations and engagement that the European Union is having with all stakeholders and the actors of the electoral process.

The European Union restated its commitment as a strong partner with Nigeria and the Nigerian people, adding that “the European Union has been a steady, supportive partner for Nigeria’s democracy since the return to see the civil rule in 1999.

“European Union has been supporting the country in strengthening its democratic governance through the support to all the stakeholders to Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and as well as to the other actors and players of the process of the city society, the media, the political parties.

“We have also at the request of the Nigerian authorities always deployed electoral observation, to entrench the process of democracy.

“This is part of our regular consultations with all the stakeholders, actors and partners, particularly in view of the next elections and I would like to reaffirm our support to Nigeria’s democracy and we continue to work together with all the institutions and stakeholders involved”.

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