AYCF tackles Cardinal Onaiyekan over comments on INEC Chairman
By: Femi Mustapha
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has criticized Cardinal Onaiyekan’s remarks on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu. The comments are dishonest and pretentious, stating that people like Onaiyekan who use religion to preach hatred pose a threat to humanity.
The President of AYCF, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, stated this in a statement made available to the media in Kaduna on the 22nd of October, 2023.
The statement conveys the AYCF’s response in an assertive tone, which conveys their disagreement with the Cardinal’s statements, referring to Onaiyekan as a “man of God” who preaches selective partisanship by the misuse of religion for political purposes.
“True Men of God are expected to preach salvation and not preach selective partisanship behind the garb of religion, as is the case with Onaiyekan,” Yerima said.
Referring to the Cardinal’s assertion that Yakubu is misleading Nigerians and not being honest in the conduct of the 2023 elections, Yerima said it is a blatant attempt to misuse the pulpit to promote the interests of the opposition Labour Party.
“His comment about the prevailing court suit filed by the opposition challenging the electoral victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is part of a sinister plot by pretenders to hide behind the glory of the Church to further the dubious political agenda of certain interests.
AYCF said rather than hiding behind the garb of religion to play politics, Onaiyekan should leave the pulpit for genuine men of God and pursue his partisanship.
“It is unjust and unfair to accuse Yakubu of any wrongdoing, as he went to great lengths to ensure that the exercise was the most transparent and credible in Nigeria’s history.
“Firstly, Yakubu’s commitment to transparency and fairness is evident in the extensive preparations made by INEC for the 2023 general elections. The commission implemented various reforms, including the introduction of new technologies such as electronic voting machines and biometric voter registration.
These measures aimed to eliminate voter fraud, enhance the accuracy of the electoral roll, and ensure the credibility of the entire process. Yakubu’s proactive approach demonstrates his dedication to conducting a transparent and fair election.
“Secondly, Yakubu’s efforts to promote inclusivity and equal representation further highlight his commitment to fairness. INEC, under Yakubu’s leadership, embarked on a comprehensive voter education campaign to ensure that all eligible citizens were aware of their rights and responsibilities.
This campaign targeted marginalized communities, rural areas, and traditionally underrepresented groups, aiming to bridge the gap in political participation.
“By actively engaging with these communities, Yakubu demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that every citizen had an equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.
“Furthermore, Yakubu’s emphasis on the independence of INEC showcases his dedication to upholding the principles of fairness and credibility. He consistently advocated for the autonomy of the commission, resisting external pressures and interference.
“This commitment to independence allowed INEC to operate without bias or favoritism, ensuring that the electoral process remained impartial and transparent. Yakubu’s unwavering stance against external influence demonstrates his integrity and commitment to conducting a just election.
“Moreover, Yakubu’s proactive measures to address potential challenges and mitigate electoral malpractices further solidify his dedication to fairness. INEC, under his leadership, established a robust system for monitoring and reporting irregularities during the election.
“This system included the deployment of election observers, both domestic and international, to ensure transparency and accountability. Additionally, Yakubu implemented strict protocols to prevent voter intimidation, violence, and other forms of electoral misconduct.
“These measures demonstrate his commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring a level playing field for all candidates,” Yerima said.