…back PANDEF on Atiku’s candidacy
By Appolos Christian
A coalition of Niger Delta former militants has reiterate its support for the presidential candidacy of the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP),Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and also back the decision of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in support Atiku, saying he would better the lots of Nigerians.
Led by John Duku of Niger Delta Watchdog, and the Convener; Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, the Agitators who said this in a statement made available to AUTHORITY, however lashed at the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, for his recent comment that international observers of 2019 general elections in Nigeria would leave the country in body bags should they interfere in the process.
In part, the statement read, “We reiterate our earlier stand of supporting the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON. Our decision for endorsement is based on our firm belief that Alhaji Atiku means well for the Niger Delta people and is truly capable of making Nigeria work again. We also stand by the decision by the Elders of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) to give its full support to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s Presidential ambition.
“The Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators has also condemned in very strong terms the unguarded, careless and reckless statement made recently by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai against the International Election Observers from the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union and the International Community in general.
“Speaking on NTAs Tuesday Live programme anchored by Cyril Stober, El-Rufai threatened that foreigners who intervene in the forthcoming general elections will go back in body bags. This utterance has confirmed the tribal and violent disposition of the Governor and the entire national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who have openly declared that they see nothing wrong in the threat, rather this was said in defence of the countrys national interest.
“On behalf of the Federal Government, Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu said that the Governor spoke in defence of the National Interest and “there is nothing more to sneeze at. Similarly, El-Rufais spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, as an afterthought, explained that he (El-Rufai) stood up for Nigerias dignity in the wake of those who would traduce their country and reduce it to the status of a colony in their vain quest for power. This is a very unfortunate, callous and irresponsible defence of an ardent killer and tribal warlord who sees nothing sacred about human lives. This is a Governor who superintends over a State where thousands of residents, mostly Christians, were massacred last year without any ounze of remorse. This is one who usurped authority from nowhere, to speak on behalf of all Nigerians on National Television about the forthcoming elections.
“In a country where the ruling party daily accuses the opposition of hate speech, an Executive Governor of a state who had served the opposition as part of the 16 years of the PDP government in the country has threatened to kill members of the International Community who are only begging INEC not rig the forthcoming elections in favour of the ruling APC with the connivance of the security agencies, but to provide a level playing ground for a free, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful election that will reflect the will of the Nigerian people. To the APC, this call simply is the meaning of political interference. Asking the people of Niger Republic not to join in campaigning and voting for Buhari and the APC, is a crime that the International Observers and Officials of the International Community must pay with their lives.
“We hereby warn that Nigeria does not belong to one ethnic group, or a particular religious group or political party, rather it belongs to all Nigerians. No one individual or a group of individuals, no matter how highly placed, has any right to make such utterances that could cause serious diplomatic crises, for the sake of clinging to power at all costs, even in the face of outright rejection by the electorate. We can no longer tolerate a situation where an individual can rise up and make declarations that can heat up the polity, and the Presidency/APC will only concur as if we are running a government of the insane.
“We wish to state that Governor El-Rufai, the APC leadership and indeed the Presidency shall be held accountable in the event of any attack or assault on any of the Election Observers – International or local and members of the International Community, before, during and after the general elections.
“And as we earlier warned that if the APC should attempt to rig the elections to ensure that President Buhari clings to power against the collective will of the people, the country shall definitely be plunged into serious crisis.
“We therefore warn Governor El-Rufai, security agents and the APC led federal government to be cautious of their utterances; we also call on INEC to ensure free, fair, credible, transparent, and peaceful elections that would reflect the will of the Nigerian masses. We are therefore left with no other option than to mobilize all our fighters to defend the votes cast on election days and ensure that the results reflect the collective will of the people.”
Against rigging the general elections in favour any party, the agitators warned that Nigeria may be heading for the worst crises should any body try rigging the elections.
“The Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators has demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should conduct free and fair elections, and desist from act that will amount to rigging the forthcoming elections in collaboration with INEC and security agents.”