The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to look into media reports that stated that the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, campaigned for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election during her visit to Rivers State, and sanction her accordingly.
Last week, while she was in Rivers, the President’s wife was widely quoted as urging the people of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state to support Jonathan when he decides to seek re-election in 2015.
This, APC noted, occurred less barely two weeks after INEC warned politicians to desist from campaigning ahead of the 2015 general elections.
In their separate reactions, spokesmen for the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Progressive Change, two of the three major parties that form the APC, Lai Mohammed and Rotimi Fashakin, respectively warned that should INEC fail to sanction the President’s wife and others, who it noted had started mobilizing support for Jonathan, it would have lost the moral right to sanction any other person.
Mohammed said, “If it is true that Mrs. Patience Jonathan has started campaigning for her husband, then INEC’s attention should be drawn to that because just two weeks ago, INEC warned against campaigning of any kind. If INEC does not sanction her for campaigning, then it will lose every moral right to sanction any other person who starts campaigning.”
Fashakin, toeing the same line, said the action of Mrs. Jonathan was a display of the culture of impunity, which he said had characterized the Jonathan administration.
According to him, “The bane of our society is the culture of impunity that has become very pervasive. It has become even worse under Jonathan than any other time in the country’s history. That is the kind of thing you would see. The fact is that Jonathan has brought down the level of leadership in the country. We have not had it this low.
“Past Nigerian leaders, both military and civilian, were able to keep their spouses in check, but we have not seen that under President Jonathan. If the Jonathan administration prodded INEC to give the warning against campaign, and the same administration has gone on to flout the warning; then there is a problem.”
Fashakin, who said it was not the opposition’s job to tell INEC how to do its job, advised it to ‘close shop’ if the political environment is not monitored against such early campaigns.
He said, “We believe INEC should have monitors. INEC is the regulator of the political parties. It is to regulate the conduct of political parties. If it does not have a mechanism to monitor this kind of thing and give sanctions appropriately, then it should close shop. It is not for us to tell the regulator its job.
“The President’s wife’s speech was well reported. So, if anything in that speech constitutes open campaign for the President, and since it’s not yet time for politicking, then it’s an infraction of a subsisting regulation and it is sanctionable. INEC should know what to do.”