Override Or Overrun: PDP’s Options On Buhari’s Refusal To Sign The Use Of The Card Reader Into Law
By Nosa Omorodion
It was vain hope for anyone to have thought that Buhari would sign the new Electoral Bill into law. It is like expecting him to drop his aces going into the 2019 Presidential election, with cards of no prime value. In spite of his over-celebrated integrity, Buhari is just like every ordinary Nigerian politician, who would want to remain in power even if it requires cutting corners or using unholy methods. The only remarkable difference between him and others is that he has the grace of having a thousand and one unscrupulous party men ready to run his devil’s errands.
The National Assembly saw it coming but could not take firm action before now because for the past three years, the APC had been in firm control of the national legislature. Not passing the bill was then in the interest of the majority of the legislators who saw lacuna as being personal benefit. For a long time, the debate over the bill was more or less an academic exercise until the APC dissenters left the party for the PDP, and realized that without making the card reader a mandatory regulator of the voting process, removing President Buhari, with his strategic strongholds of the North West and North East, is a most herculean task.
For the third and final time, Buhari has rejected the amended electoral act that would otherwise have cleaned up the system such that if one were not the genuine owner of a permanent voter’s card, one would not have the opportunity of voting. The present system leaves open the opportunity for mercenary voters to be imported and for dubious polling officials to manipulate the system accreditation.
The first option before the PDP to make the rejected electoral bill become a law in spite of President Buhari is to mobilize the National Assembly to override the veto of the President by a two-third majority of members. This however, is going to be a tall order. The APC caucus, which is still the majority, is not likely going along with the opposition despite the law being to the benefit of all Nigerians. The APC majority leader, Ahmed Lawan already spoke in that direction. He said the APC members are sticking with whatever decision Buhari takes. Buhari’s stance is clear – he is not signing. Given that the National Assembly may not be able to override the president’s veto, what other option is left for the opposition? There is only one option – overrun the APC and Buhari at the election. The only way to overrun the ruling party is by sufficiently mobilizing the electorate to the extent of doubling the number of prospective voters desirous of bringing about the change of this administration that is believed to be a scourge to ordinary Nigerians.
How can this be accomplished? The way to accomplish this is by escalating the application of the traditional methods of campaign as well as applying novel and peculiar approaches that take into cognizance the prevailing issues and circumstances that have defined the unpopularity of the Buhari Government in recent times. While these issues are common knowledge, turning them to missiles would require the employment of persons with motivation, hunger for change, the relevant aptitude, ingenuity and predisposition to team play.
Having identified the right drivers of the revolutionary campaign, the PDP should by now not be afraid to confront its fears which has occasioned their apparent attitude of trying to marry fear with favour. A pointer to its present state of confusion this is its unprecedented appointment of eight spokespersons, representing different interests, for its Presidential Campaign Team. It is apparent that the PDP has not been able to establish a cohesive and unified structure since its presidential primary from which hitherto front-liners seem to have been technically relegated to the back seats, and have somehow become a threat to the Party’s unity of purpose and aspiration. Anyhow, the PDP should not manage but confront this fear if it hopes to achieve the ideal of overrunning the APC, which seems to be its only hope in the event that the National Assembly cannot override the president’s veto of new electoral act.
Overrunning the ruling party can only be achieved by going out to capture an overwhelming number of voters against Buhari who by all indications has become very unpopular. However, although President Buhari is unpopular, he is yet to lose the winning votes. This is for the simple fact that INEC may be complacent or complicit enough to allow ghost voters participate in the election in favour of the ruling party. On the other hand, PDP may not have the grace and the spirit, to resurrect the legion of dry bone, if the suggestions above are not activated.
It is true that so many voters are not going to vote for Buhari. But will they be willing, without being properly befriended, educated and motivated, to transfer their votes to the PDP? The PDP may among other factors, be victims of voter apathy in the 2019 presidential election unless they put their acts together and go fishing for the voters instead of waiting for them to run into their net.
The summary of the matter is that Buhari and the APC are determined to remain in power against the run of public opinion and desire. Thus, the president, for the third consecutive time, without just cause, has refused to sign the new electoral act that has the potential of eliminating to the barest level, the bane of our balloting system – rigging. Therefore, there are only two difficult options before the leading opposition party, the PDP – override or overrun.