A spokesman for Nigeria’s All Progressives Congress (APC) says the party has momentum on its side ahead of Saturday’s gubernatorial election.
Shehu Garba says the success of the party and its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, in the March 28 presidential election, is drawing nationwide support from other opposition parties to the APC in the run-up to the vote. He says the APC expects the security agencies to be neutral but ensure the protection of unarmed civilians.
Garba says the party is ready to capitalize on its success in the recent presidential vote to defeat the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) gubernatorial candidates across the country.
“We cannot be more ready than we are at the moment. Because we are coming from the victory we scored two weeks ago, recording enormous win over the PDP...now people have been trooping into the APC, leaving the PDP and coming into our party and we are welcoming them,” said Garba.
His comments came after some prominent members of the outgoing ruling PDP defected to the APC after the party lost the March 28 presidential election.
Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, a former adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, who also championed his re-election bid, and former minister of health Dr. Idi Hong were reportedly among the PDP stalwarts who announced their defection to the APC.
Supporters of the PDP accuse the APC of harassment and intimidation, as well as poaching leading members of the party. Garba denies the accusation.
“The APC has no reason to poach now,” said Garba. “What is happening is that …there are people who think there is no oxygen outside government. They had been in PDP not because they believed in what the PDP was doing, but now that the PDP has lost power, they are quitting and we are welcoming them.”
“Our party represents a change and a new attitude in the affairs of Nigeria. So, whoever is making a movement from the rotten old ways of the past coming over to embrace change, we are welcoming them. We are not intimidating anyone, and we have no reason to cajole or harass anybody. They are coming freely on their own,” Garba added.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is ready to administer the planned gubernatorial election on Saturday. INEC said it will deploy card reader machines in the election as part of its measures to ensure the vote is transparent, free and fair.