2015 Polls: Ominous Signals, Insecurity, And Worrisome Events Pervade The Land
SINCE the return of democratic governance in Nigeria in 1999, the country has witnessed four general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. The elections witnessed some irregularities, agitation and disenchantment among the voters and party faithful. Of these elections, the one of 2011 was quite different, President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua having died before the end of his first term in office.
It was a development that pitched some Northern members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against their Southern counterparts following President Jonathan’s declaration to contest the 2011 presidential elections.
Many Northerners opposed the move, arguing that it was against the PDP zoning arrangement that produced Yar’ Adua/ Jonathan ticket in 2007. But many Nigerians insisted that it is the constitutional right of President Jonathan to contest any election irrespective of the party position. At this point, many party stakeholders such as former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo intervened. After all said and done, Jonathan emerged the presidential candidate of the PDP after defeating former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was also the consensus candidate of the North in the primary.
While some Northerners opposed Jonathan during the election, others supported him holding on to an alleged agreement that he would spend only one term in office and hand over power to the North in 2015. Not many Nigerians were aware of the alleged agreement which President Jonathan has since denied but was confirmed by Obasanjo recently.
After the election and swearing-in of Jonathan, the Boko Haram insurgency which was at minimal level assumed a very dangerous dimension. This was after the protests and killings that trailed the outcome of the 2011 presidential poll.
The then National Security Adviser (NSA) now late, Major General Andrew Azazi once attributed the escalation of the insurgency to the intra party crisis in PDP that followed President Jonathan’s emergence as president in 2011 election. It would be recalled that ahead of the 2011 presidential poll, some Northern politicians had threatened that they would make the country ungovernable for Jonathan if he went ahead to contest the 2011 election and win.
As days passed by, the level of insecurity caused by Boko Haram insurgents threatened the peace of the land. There were several allegations and counter-allegations. Suspects were being arrested and imprisoned, but no successful prosecution has been witnessed.
At a stage, the PDP leadership, Presidency and leadership of the major opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) politicised the worrisome situation by pointing accusing finger at each other as being responsible for the insurgency. While the petty politics between the two major parties lasted, several lives, and property worth millions of Naira are being wasted in the Northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe by the insurgents. Not even the state of emergency declared in three affected states by President Jonathan has helped to quell the insurgency.
On several occasions, the Federal Government had raised the alarm that government’s effort to tackle the insurgency is being sabotaged by some forces. This is the situation with the 2015 general elections at hand.
Since the process towards the next month elections commenced, many Nigerians through their action, body language, speeches, adverts and documentaries have been busy fanning the embers of war ahead of the elections.
Supporters and loyalists of the two major candidates in the presidential election namely President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of All Progressives Congress (APC) have been threatening fire and brimstone.
It is a situation many have expressed worry may spell doom for the country if left unchecked. From the North to the South, the situation is the same. There is palpable tension in the air and some people are already relocating their families overseas, and villages over fear of election violence. Government agencies appear to be helpless or compromised in handling the situation considering the ugly unfolding political drama across the country.
It is clear that since 1999, Nigerians have never witnessed any election that is tension-soaked and close to call like next month’s presidential poll.
Boko Haram Insurgency
On Saturday last week the campaign train of President Jonathan was in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital to solicit for votes. While the president was busy addressing party supporters in the capital city, Boko Haram insurgents in a daring move and against all expectation were busy advancing into the capital city from nearby towns and communities. From Konduga to Mongunu, Kambari, Gubio and others, the insurgents made spirited effort to gain entry into the state capital amidst resistance by military personnel.
At the end, several innocent residents, military personnel and some insurgents were killed. The development also confirmed the fear by INEC that it may not be an easy task to conduct elections in the affected Northeast States.
Attacks on the President’s Campaign Train
Before the recent attack on the campaign train of President Jonathan in some states in the North, some of his campaign buses were burnt in the Jos, Plateau State by angry youths alleged to be supporters of the APC.
The inability of the security agents to forestall such attacks has raised question on their competence and readiness for the polls.
Apart from this, the disclosure by the Bauchi State Mallam Isa Yuguda that the Bauchi attack on the President’s convoy was masterminded by the loyalists of the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Senator Bala Mohammed has also exposed the rumbles in the PDP ahead of the polls.
Although many Nigerians have condemned the barbaric attack on President’s convoy, the development is gradually pitching the North against the Niger Delta ex-militants. The ex-militants have warned recently that there will be crisis in the country, if Jonathan loses the election.
The former militants spoke when they met with the Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson in Yenogea recently. They said Jonathan’s re-election was not negotiable.
Addressing the audience, a leader of the militants, popularly known as Boyloaf flayed the attack on the President in some northern states, saying nobody or group of persons has the monopoly of violence. Boyloaf, who contended that there was nothing like one Nigeria, said the only thing binding Nigeria’s unity was the oil.
He believed that President Jonathan would win the election, but noted that if the North, out of desperation for power took power from their kinsman, the people of the Niger Delta would take their oil back.
A threat that made the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd.) to call for the arrest of an ex-Niger Delta militants, including Mujahideen Dokubo-Asari and Government Ekpudomenowei (aka Tompolo) for threatening to declare war against the nation if President Goodluck loses the February 14 election.
Danjuma, who described the threat as “unguarded and reckless,” warned that “miscreants” must not be allowed to hold the country by the jugular.
But in a swift reaction, elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, said he was disappointed at the call by former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), that former Niger Delta militants should be arrested and prosecuted for warning that there would be war if President Goodluck Jonathan loses the presidential election on February 14.
He said that Danjuma should have condemned the attacks on Jonathan in several states in the North, instead of calling for the arrest of the ex-militants.
Meanwhile, a former militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, was defiant as he accused Danjuma of sponsoring terrorism in the Northern part of the country and also called for his arrest and prosecution.
Similarly, leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo in his reaction, said he felt sorry for Danjuma for calling for his arrest and other Niger Delta activists.
Reacting also, former Provost-Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig. General Idada Ikponmwen (rtd.); Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku; Captain Beck Hitler, a prominent Chief of Gbaramatu and Ogulagha Kingdoms, Delta State; Urhobo Ovo and Ijaw Kene Patriots for Okowa; former National Chairman of the Association of Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria (ATROMPCON), and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom in Delta State, HRM Charles Ayemi-Botu and Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, faulted Danjuma’s call, describing same as unfounded and based on misleading reports.
With this, it is expected that in the days ahead, there will be more reactions, incisive statements, threat from the North and South which no one is sure of where they may lead the country before and after the polls.
Also in Rivers State, there has been battle for supremacy between APC and PDP members and so many lives and property have been lost. Across the country, there have been silent drums of war between APC and PDP members ahead of the polls.
Hate Speeches And Campaign Of Calumny
Despite signing peace pact in Abuja recently, the PDP and APC have fallen short of their commitment for a peaceful poll, following the consistent use of foul languages and innuendoes in their campaign speeches.
Instead of running issue-based campaign, the two major parties in the elections and members are busy engaging in the name-calling, cheap blackmail and incisive statements. Some of the party candidates do not even know their party’s manifestoes.
The parties (PDP and APC) have littered the electronic and print media with incisive and divisive adverts and documentaries against their respective presidential candidates.
Allegations and Counter-allegations
The ruling PDP and APC have also wasted precious time in leveling founded and unfounded allegations against each other in a bid to garner votes of the electorate. They have over-flogged trivial issues at the expense of major issues affecting the country.
Recently, APC accused the Presidency and PDP of plotting to use the court to stop Buhari from participating in the election and at the same time postpone the elections. PDP has also accused the APC of fielding unqualified candidate in the presidential election.
Advocates Of Polls Shift
Precisely two weeks to the general elections, some stakeholders in the polity including the National Security Adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) are canvassing for a shift in the date of the elections.
Despite assurances from the leadership of INEC that eligible voters will get their PVCs before the polls, the call for the polls extension is gathering momentum. Some groups have been staging protest to INEC offices asking for the shift on the excuse that so many voters have not collected their PVCs.
It may not be out of place that some persons are behind the clamour for the shift to achieve a purpose.
Relocation And Fear Of Violence
Following tension and fear of possible election violence, some residents in States in the North are relocating to their states of origin over fear of attack.
Investigation reveals that some people who returned during the last yuletide period have stayed back in their states, waiting to see the outcome of the election.
Not helping in this situation are the political class who see the forthcoming election as a do-or-die affair or a battle for supremacy between the North and South. Some of them have gone to the extent of canvassing for the disintegration of the country.