The national working committee of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) at the weekend disclosed its move to be joined in the suit, challenging the nomination of erstwhile national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu for a fresh term of five years.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has since mandated the Senate Committee on INEC led by Senator Kabiru Gaya to conduct the screening of Professor Yakubu, sequel to a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking a fresh term for the INEC chairman which was read by Senator Lawan on the floor of the Red Chamber.
But a political party, Hope Democratic Party (HDP) had approached the court to abort the screening and confirmation of Professor Yakubu by the Senate.
Addressing newsmen on Sunday in Abuja, National Chairman of the ZLP, Chief Dan Nwanyawu expressed concern over court action by HDP.
Nwanyawu who attributed the gains in the electoral processes in the country to the warm relationship between the leadership of INEC under Professor Yakubu and leadership of political parties said such strides could be undermined if certain forces were allowed to install their stooge at the commission.
He said: “We endorse the reappointment of Yakubu, we are opposed to any attempt to thwart it, and ZLP leadership has been directed to join in the suit with a view to quashing it. By tomorrow morning, we will be filling our suit to be joined.
“Because it is when we have electoral results that are credible that smaller parties like us can win seats. ZLP was few months into the last general election but we are able to pick seats and that was because the process was transparent and we are able to win where we worked harder. And of all the places we lost, we lost gallantly.
“This meeting is to brief you of some attempt to derail the progressives democratic culture which we have imbibed over the years. We have improved on our electoral system and we have been able to make some innovations and introductions into the electoral process.
“Some of our colleagues who are politicians have decided to go to court to stop the renomination of INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu and they are using an organization that used to be a political party but now deregistered which of course do not have any locus to go to court but the court is there for everybody to come to, when you get there, you present your matter. And those of us who are the major stakeholders, the political parties, over 80 percent of the registered parties are happy with the proceedings in INEC as it relates to the conduct of elections.
“We have seen some improvements, some innovations, it started with accreditation and voting at the same time to the introduction of portals whereby we can watch results in a place as they vote. We are now moving into improvement into the electronic system which we have been asking for years.
“But I think some of those politicians who are using Hope Democratic Party to go to court, to stop the Senate from approving the nomination, legitimately made by the president is, to say the least, irresponsible. We are in support of the reappointment of Prof. Yakubu. And the fact, at the political party forum, we have directed them to issue a statement on that.
“Why are we happy? Since he came on board, there has been an improvement in the electoral system the last being Edo and Ondo, now we are going to Anambra. If you follow the conduct of election you cannot but agree with me that we have moved forward from what it used to be.
“Even the process of submission of list of candidates, we no longer have one on one contact with INEC, I stay in my office and file our candidates and I take my printout.
“Those days when we used to stay at International Conference Centre over the night are gone. For Edo and Ondo, we didn’t have to visit INEC.”
The ZLP chairman who dismissed the allegation of financial inducement of the federal lawmakers to facilitate the screening of Professor Yakubu further alleged that those against reforms were unrelenting in their desperation to discourage the screening of the nominee.
“They said he gave N3 billion to be reappointed. I also read the Senate President reacted to that. It was not necessary, though Senate will resume on Tuesday, ZLP is calling on the Senate to approve the nomination of Professor Yakubu without delay. We should do the right thing at all times. Yakubu is the best we have had in the electoral management.
“I am not saying that the National Assembly should fast track their process, they have screened him before, they have seen his performances, after the last election, at the plenary, they applauded him, so what are they waiting for. He has done five years and there is nothing new to learn if you go and put another person he will start learning the ropes again.”