The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday rejected any attempt by the Federal Government to postpone the February 14 and 28 elections.
Its presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, also kicked against such plans.
APC warned members of the National Council of State, which is meeting today, against being involved in a postponement which can damage the nation?s electoral process.
It accused the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) of acting a script to deny Nigerians the right to vote for their preferred leader ? a charge the ruling party denied yesterday.
The party, which made its position known at a press conference in Abuja by its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said the consequences of poll shift might be unpredictable.
Odigie-Oyegun said: ?Attempts to rubbish INEC?s preparations in order to achieve a postponement are being seen for what they are: a desperate ploy by the PDP administration to avoid certain electoral defeat.
?Unfortunately, in the process, the polity is being overheated to dangerous levels, with consequences that might be unpredictable at this stage.
?Nigerians understand where the orchestrated attempts involving instigation of political parties and other groups, flimsy legal challenges and cynical manipulation of national elders and leaders are coming from.
?These are part of the PDP script to deny Nigerians their right to choose their leaders on the 14th and 28th of February.
?APC reaffirms its commitment to fully participate in the general elections on February 14th and 28th as planned and will not accept any postponement.?
On alleged plot to conscript the National Council of State into the poll postponement, Odigie-Oyegun said it would be a disservice.
He said the party was advising members of the council not to be part of any plot to damage the nation? s hard-earned democracy.
His words: ?The All Progressives Congress (APC) is aware that the Presidency may attempt to drag members of The Council of State into its efforts to postpone the elections during the scheduled meeting of The Council on Thursday, February 5th.
?Members of The Council of State are Nigerians who are held in very high esteem, and their involvement in a project that damages the democratic process will be a serious disservice to our national assets in leaders.
?APC has faith in the distinguished members of The Council of State, and advises them not to become tools in the hands of an administration that wants to subvert our fragile democratic process. INEC should be allowed to perform its duties without overbearing interference from other institutions of State and the evil machinations of the PDP.?
Odigie-Oyegun said APC believes that INEC is capable of conducting free and fair elections, with its present level of preparedness.
He said: ?Our party is encouraged by the fact that INEC has restated in clear and unambiguous terms its determination and ability to conduct the elections as planned.
?It is the constitutional prerogative of INEC to set election dates which nonetheless should meet at least the minimum threshold of confidence.
?We recognise that it had challenges but these are challenges that have been or are being seriously tackled by the Commission, and the engineered clamour for postponement is not helping the situation.?
Odigie-Oyegun, who responded to questions after the short and sharp briefing, said since INEC had repeatedly claimed that it was ready for the elections, APC had no reason to disbelieve the electoral umpire.
He added: ? What I have told you today is that we have confidence in the assurances by INEC that they are ready to conduct free, fair and transparent election.
? INEC has not changed its mind and they are the only authority authorised and recognised by law to so do. Until they recant themselves and they give us reason for recanting, we will also sit down as a party and consider. But right now, INEC says we are ready and we believe them.?
He dismissed the call by 16 mushroom parties for the postponement of the general elections.
Odigie-Oyegun said: ?This election involves two main parties. I don?t want to run down any party, but you know as much as I do that there are only two parties in real serious contention and that is the situation.
?It is not a matter of 16 versus 3 or whatever. We are not even counting numbers. Let us be serious about this. The very foundation of this nation is at stake. Let us not start a playing games with numbers. The country is fired up for change. The country is prepared for election.?
On the plan to use poor or slow distribution of PVCs as excuse for poll shift, the APC chair said it should not affect the conduct of the poll.
He said over 90 per cent of PVCs had been distributed and no laws compel any Nigerian to vote.
He announced that APC states will declare two work-free days for the collection PVCs.
He said: ?People are falling over themselves to collect their PVCs every single day. The APC governors are going to help the process by declaring two work free days in all APC states to make it easy for everyone to get that PVC.
?Tell me what other reason there is to postpone election. In any case, our law does not compel people to vote. Over 90 percent of the PVCs have been distributed and it is left for everybody to go collect. That should not be made a precondition for election because it is not part of our laws.?
On the boycott of presidential debate by the APC, Odigie-Oyegun said the party?s candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, was already spending quality time with stakeholders through Town Hall meetings.
He said: ? For the Presidential debate, ask the Presidential candidate. If you have been watching what is going on, you will discover that he has set out his own agenda. He is talking directly to the people who are involved and the various stakeholders.
?In Lagos, he met with the Organised Private Sector. In Kano, he dealt with the more lowly middle level business people and market people. He is going to have a third one with the civil society and student groups. He is engaging with the real people at every level.
?The grammar you talk in this debate and the fact that electricity is down to over 2000 MW, how many people watch these debates? He is spending quality time with those who make this country thick either economically or otherwise. There is no magic about debate, but that is his decision.?
Others at the briefing were one of the national leaders of the party, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi, National Secretary, Mallam Mai Mala Buni, former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh, National Vice-Chairman(South-South), Prince Hillard Eta, National Auditor of APC, Dr. George Moghalu and an Adviser to the National Chairman of APC, Prince Hilliard Eta.