KADUNA State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has stirred the hornet’s nest, with his warning that foreigners should not interfere in the conduct of the general elections.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday threatened to pull out of the peace accord it signed with other parties before the National Peace Committee (NPC) chaired by former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The opposition party hinged its decision on the “death threats” issued by the governor, according to it, to officials of the United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (U.K.) and the European Union (E.U.).
But the Presidency dismissed it all as a storm in a tea cup. “There is nothing more to sneeze at”, it said.
Besides, the governor denied calling for violence.
Also yesterday, the EU Election Observer Mission (EOM) said its men were in Nigeria on the invitation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and that they will remain in the country to monitor the elections billed for February 16 (presidential/National) and March 2 (governorship/state Assembly).
Speaking on an NTA live programme El-Rufai was reported to have threatened the foreign nationals who might interfere with Nigeria’s upcoming elections with violent attacks.
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags,” he was quoted as saying.
The governor, however, explained himself yesterday, insisting that his comments were not in any way calls for violence, but a defence of Nigeria’s sovereignty.
El-Rufai said he merely stood up for Nigeria’s dignity as against those who would traduce their country and reduce it to a colony in their vain quest for power.
In a statement last night, the Presidency said: “The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari would cooperate with election observers and would not let the international community down in the conduct of the coming elections.
“The Presidency assures Nigerians and the international community that the President would do everything within his power to ensure free, fair and credible elections in the country.
“We have taken note of the clarification to a reported earlier statement by the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufa’i concerning opposition call for foreign interference in our domestic affairs and to say that latest statement by him should rest the issue for good. There is nothing more to sneeze at. The Governor spoke strongly in defense of of national interest. It is clear that El-Rufa’i, our party the APC and all its candidates have reposed their faith in democracy through general elections. They are all of the view that there is no place for violence against local people or foreign citizens in our midst.
“Opposition PDP ought to own up to the mistakes of their own policies for 16 years which have led the country to a sorry pass that has cost lives, jobs and growth instead of dwelling on diversionary issues.”
The PDP’s threat was issued at a news conference in Abuja. Its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan described El-Rufai’s comments as inimical to peaceful, free and fair elections.
He said: “The PDP is left with no option than to consider a review of its signatory in the National Peace Accord, if no action is immediately taken to curb this trend.”
But a pro-Buhari group, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), said neither the PDP nor its presidential candidate, was genuinely committed to any peace deal.
According to the BMO, PDP’s presidential candidate signed the peace accord reluctantly.
The main opposition party called on the international community to immediately impose a travel ban on El-Rufai for what it described as the inciting comments against peaceful elections.
Ologbodiyan also called on the Gen. Abdulsalami to summon El-Rufai on the threat.
He said: “The PDP holds that any situation that seeks to allow the APC to abuse the tenets of the accord will definitely force our party to review our signatory to the peace process.
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“We therefore call on the NPC to immediately summon El-Rufai on his inflammatory remarks against peaceful election in our country.
“In that regard, we might have no option left than to allow our members to defend their votes with whatever that is available to them.
“This country belongs to all of us and no individual or group, no matter how highly placed, can subjugate other citizens, or seek to appropriate any sort of absolutism to himself.”
The PDP also kicked against what it described as an alleged plot by the police authority to redeploy Kayode Egbetokun as Commissioner of Police to the Kwara State Command.
The opposition party alleged closeness of Egbetokun to a section of the leadership of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
This, according to the PDP, might lead to Egbetokun taking sides in the ongoing supremacy tussle between the PDP and the APC chapters in Kwara State.
Ologbondiyan said: “This is in line with plans by the Buhari Presidency and the APC to effect a mass deployment of top security officers, particularly the police, to intimidate, harass and manhandle Nigerians that will not support the self-succession bid of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as aiding APC thugs to snatch ballot boxes and orchestrate violence in the elections.
“Nigerians are aware of how CP Kayode Egbetokun was posted to Lagos State by the former Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, to serve the same partisan interest and how that posting was stopped by the new IGP Adamu Mohammed. Now, he is being redeployed to Kwara State for the same ignoble plot.
“It is necessary to state that the PDP is a party of peace and we are committed to the peace accord. However, the deployment of Kayode Egbetokun as Kwara CP directly negates the principle of the Peace Accord and can only hurt the fragile peace that currently exists in Kwara state.
“We wish to remind the acting Inspector General, Adamu Mohammed, that his acceptability among Nigerians across party line was based on the pedigree, which was presented to Nigerians before his appointment.
“These pedigree and exposure place on his shoulders, the responsibility to be just, firm, equitable and professional in the discharge of his duties. We therefore urge him not to allow his reputation to be mired in controversial political activities.”