The saga started when Senator Babafemi Ojudu alleged that with the elections postponement, President Goodluck Jonathan planned to have his tenure extended for a 2-year term.
February 13, 2015
The clash in the political circles regarding the elections postponement continues. This time, after having been blasted by Senate president David Mark over his comments about Mark's purported involvement in orchestrating the reschedule, Senator Ojudu says he never said anything like that.
See his clarifying speech published yesterday by Sahara Reporters:
"My attention has been drawn to a report in This Day newspaper that quoted me to have said that the Senate President Senator David Mark called Senators to request for their support for the extention of the regime's tenure.
"I never said that. What I said was that when we came back from last year's summer break the president gave a speech where he said that left to him the defeat of Boko Haram should be the nation's priority now and not an election. And I said from that moment on I began to feel that the elections as fixed for February may not hold since the nation may not have overcome Boko Haram by then. This was the only time I mentioned Senator David Mark in the close to 30 minutes speech that I gave. I at no time said Senators are broke and they will take money. I said all my colleagues who were made to go through the campaigns expecting the elections to be over with on February 14 must be broke by now and it will be difficult for them to go through the next six weeks campaigning.
"I called the reporter Mr Gboyega Adesanmi to complain about this early today at about 5.00am and he promised to make amends. Thanks."
See what made the senator provide a quick explanation on the issue of the elections shift.
Earlier report, February 13, 2015
David Mark fought it out heavily with Senator Babafemi Ojudu who said he was part of the brains behind the poll shift.
Punch reports that Mark took it upon himself to tackle Ojudu today because Ojudu, who is representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District in the upper chamber had in a media report, allegedly accused Mark of masterminding the shift of the polls.
Mark, however, in a statement by his special adviser on media, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, described the allegation by Ojodu as "an undignifying mischief least expected of a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria".
Mark, representing Benue South Senatorial District, swore in the statement that he was never a party to the postponement of the elections, claiming that he was not at any meeting in which the poll shift was decided. Accusing Ojudu of sheer deceit and attempting to drag the good name of the Senate into the mud, Mark said:
"I have neither canvassed the postponement or deferment of 2015 election nor has my body language ever suggested that. I am shocked that distinguished Senator Ojudu could descend to this level of mischief and blackmail for reasons that I am yet to understand.
"How could I call for the deferment of elections? Whereas I ran for the primary election of my party, the People’s Democratic Party and was elected unopposed.
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"I picked and filled the Independent National Electoral Commission forms; I had commenced a rigorous campaign that took me to the length and breadth of my senatorial district. How else could I have shown commitment to the process.
"In no unmistakable terms, when the issue of insurgency came to the floor of the Senate and a Distinguished Senator introduced the issue of election I had cautioned that the issue before the Senate had nothing to do with election and that the issue before us in the Senate was insurgency and terrorism.
"I do hope Senator Ojodu has not embarked on a voyage to re-write history to suit his clandestine intentions.
"I know these are desperate times for a lot of politicians. But it has not called for this outright mischief. Different political affiliations notwithstanding, we all have a common goal to maintain the sanctity of our peace and unity.
"If Senator Ojodu feels strongly about any issue, he had opportunity to make his point before his colleagues and certainly not grandstanding in the media arena.
"This is not personal but in the collective interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. The country is bigger than any of us. Our unity must be held sacrosanct."
Mark assured of his commitment to the national interest, and said he would always defend national unity.
February 11, 2015
A controversial piece appeared on Thisday in which Ojudu told how Mark was allegedly asking his senator colleagues to support the February elections shift.
During the interview, Ojudu noted that Goodluck Jonathan's and David Mark's body language indicated that Nigeria "will not hold elections from March 28. If anybody is thinking of elections, the person is deceiving himself".
According to Senator Ojudu, some lawmakers "have seen this in the body language of our colleague, even the Senate President, Sen. David Mark himself. When he came back from summer recess in 2014, he said, for him, this is not the time for elections.
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"The senate president said we should not be thinking of election now. Rather, he said we should be thinking of how to fight Boko Haram. When we took him up on it, he reversed himself. There are several attempts to lobby some of us to work against elections. Where they have taken so far is a preliminary stage.”
Linking the move to the importance of tackling Boko Haram, Ojudu noted that "the president will likely bring a motion for the deferment of the 2015 general elections by six month in the first instance next week when the National Assembly resumes session.
“The constitution allows it. The constitution says where and when there is a war in any part of Nigeria, the president can bring a motion to the National Assembly to postpone elections for six months in the first instance. This can be passed by a simple majority."
Earlier report February 11, 2015
Speaking on February 10 at an event at the University of Ibadan organised by the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), the politician representing Ekiti Central said there would be no elections this year at all.
The Independent National Electoral Committee on Saturday announced the shift of the general polls for 6 weeks over security issues. Senator Ojudu expressed scepticism about the move. He was quoted as saying by The Nation:
"We are entering into a very long night in Nigeria. If anybody thinks there will be election on March 28 and April 11, he is deceiving himself. They are just deceiving us. The body language of some top leaders is that the Federal Government is not willing to organise any election now.
"We are resuming next week. I will not be surprised if they bring a motion seeking postponement of the election for six months because of the Boko Haram war. Interestingly, about 80 per cent of senators are not returning. And senators are broke. All they need to get the motion adopted is a simple majority. Then, they may ask for two more years. That is what they are working towards."
When asked how the All Progressives Congress (APC) would deal with the challenge, Ojudu said that the opposition lawmakers planned to regroup next week to coordinate their actions and response to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alleged agenda.
The ARG on its part criticised the elections postponement. The group chairman, Hon Olawale Oshun, suggested that the polls shift was connected with the military plan to take over or Balkanise Nigeria.
"It is in this light that we in Afenifere Renewal Group, and by extension, the Yoruba, contend that this election shift is certainly not just about elections. We believe that the postponement is about something more sinister.
"This postponement had long been foreseen by Nigerians, and we had awaited its doomed arrival in awe. The Federal Government and its security agencies have been fighting Boko Haram in the last five years, and had not, at any time, dealt that enemy of state any sucker punch.
"The first sinister motive we suspect is that this postponement might be the ground to prepare a soft surface for a sympathetic group within the Armed Forces to take over the reins of power, since in character and content there is little to distinguish the present rudderless government from the one that ruled us till 1983.
"It is necessary to warn that the Yoruba would not be part of any country that is forcibly taken over by any military insurrection, no matter the direction or purpose of any such self-styled messiahs. We as a people know what we want, and this is clearly not part of it. This is definitely not the change we as a people would clamour for.
"If for any reason, Nigeria ceases to be ruled democratically, or would be Balkanised into smaller groupings, then we Yoruba people would rather go our way and choose to become an independent nation. This is a change we would agitate for."
The elections shift caused many negative reactions. While the opposition characterised the decision as "highly provocative", the ruling party praised the INEC saying that the safety of Nigerians is the most important issue for the country's leadership.
Suggestions also soon emerged that Jonathan's administration might remove and substitute the INEC chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, before the newly announced dates (March 28 and April 11).
However both the INEC and the presidency debunked the rumours, describing them as false.