The former Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji, on Wednesday, advised Nigerians not to be deterred by the outcome of the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections and to come out en masse on March 18 and vote for the candidates of their choice for the governor and House Assembly members.
Nnaji, who spoke at the service of song held in honour of the Labour Party senatorial candidate that was assassinated on February 22, Oyibo Chukwu, at his country home in Umuode community, Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu, asked the people of Enugu state to use their vote to bring a desired change that would be beneficial to their children and children’s children.
The former minister who described the conduct of the presidential election as unfortunate lamented that the poll was deliberately planned and implemented to disenfranchise the people.
According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission deliberately delayed the election in many places in the South East with the intention to suppress the voters and consequently refused to give passwords of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System to presiding officers.
“There’s a number of ways they (INEC) wanted to frustrate the voters – they didn’t give them (presiding officers) the password for the BVAS machines. So they were just fiddling with the machine for quite a long time. They even didn’t come in time, they came around 10:30 am and yet they didn’t come with the password.
“So they eventually gave them password because I complained to anybody that care to listen at INEC both local and national and we didn’t have to do that. So they gave them the password and this was for all three polling units in Umuode and all three had the same exact problem, which means it was totally planned.
“We hear now that the plan is to either do the same thing, maybe load up the BVAS and our hope is that the INEC officials here don’t engage themselves in that kind of fraud.
“And of course, there are some other things like intimidation of voters but Nigerian voters are much smarter now. People refuse to be intimidated, people are prepared to vote and wait. People know that they have to look for whether the BVAS machine is actually pre-programmed with some numbers.
“They know to look for results sheets to be available before voting because otherwise what are you voting for if you don’t have eventual results sheets and so on? There are things the voters have to look out for,” advised.
Speaking on the sideline on the killing of Chukwu, he said described his assassination as the most unfortunate, adding that he was brutally murdered in a manner that has never been seen in Enugu State and needed South East.
“Deflecting the narrative that he was killed by unknown gunmen, Nnaji said that the people of Enugu State and needed Nigerians are not children.
“People know that there is no way it was unknown gunmen, it is unfortunate that they went and sacrificed a young man, the driver of one of the candidates.
“Information we have is that the young man is from Imo State and that he was an orphan so nobody could ask about him.
“So, they simply also brutally sacrificed him in order to try to camouflage what they had done. So there is nothing hidden under the sun, it is that our people, Nigerians, people of Enugu State should come out to vote because they are the power of this nation. The power of a nation is the power of the citizen.”
He however, described Oyibo Chukwu as a very straightforward, honest and courageous man, adding that as a politician he didn’t take political positions because he was just “too brutally honest.”
On the fear that the election might be marred by violence and suppression of voters, he said “the way things is going we don’t know if the coming election will be peaceful. There people whose only interest is to subvert the will of the people, and you can’t subvert the will of the people except by force because people are determined to come and to cast their votes.”
In his message to the people, “I am advising people of Enugu and indeed Nigerians should not be scared. We recognised there may be pockets of intimidation but people should be refused to be cowed and intimidated.
“Nobody of course wants to be killed but anybody who is coming out to kill somebody, the security agencies are out there in full force to protect the innocent citizens of this nation who want to express their will.”
He stated that desperate politicians are those who don’t have anything else to do. “People said if you are going to politics you should have a second address but if you don’t have a second address then it is possible that you may become desperate because that is your only source of income.
“Many of those desperate ones are the ones that don’t do anything for the people when they get in there. You should go and check.”