Williams: Against Another Polls Shift
JUST as the All Progressives Congress (APC) raised alarm that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Presidency were planning to postpone the February 14 and 28 general elections, which later came to pass, similar alarms have been raised recently by the APC again ahead of the March 28 and April 11 rescheduled polls; specifically an allegation that the Presidency and the ruling party plan to orchestrate security crisis in some states in the Northwest zone assumed to be the stronghold of the APC; the alleged withdrawal of Customs, Immigration and other security operatives from the country’s border posts in Kebbi and Katsina states to allow influx of foreigners to precipitate crisis to justify another shift of the polls, and the move to remove the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega by all means before the elections to pave way for a puppet who can write result for the party’s candidate.
No matter how one looks at these allegations, the unfolding drama across the country ahead of the postponed polls indicates that something sinister is in pipeline, which, if care is not taken, may adversely affect the country. The struggle for the presidency is assuming a dangerous dimension between the APC and the PDP and uncertainty surrounds how it will end.
From the allegations, is it possible that the reason for the polls shift was to enable PDP re-strategise on how to win the elections? Constitutionally, protection of lives and property is the primary responsibility of any government. Sadly, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has failed woefully in the last five years, in discharging this responsibility, despite the enormous resources at its disposal. Before now, the Presidency was chasing shadows, while Boko Haram insurgents had a field day. Barely two weeks before the country’s general elections, security was then cited as excuse to shift the polls.
But what happens if the insurgency in Northeast is not quelled within the six weeks as demanded by the military authorities? Will it occasion another polls shift? The Presidency, PDP or the military authorities have not provided answer to these pertinent questions. Their studied silence is suspicious, especially in the light of the latest allegations on the planned security crisis in some states. There is urgent need to answers these questions, and to ensure that the answers or assurances remain their bonds.
Notably, these allegations came few days after former President Olusegun Obasanjo accused President Jonathan of working towards a controversial polls, the same way former Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo. This calls for introspection. Obasanjo said the sudden postponement of general elections was uncalled for, stressing that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Attahiru Jega, was forced to do so.
“It looks to me it that the President is trying to play Gbagbo. Gbagbo was the former President of Cote d’Ivoire and Gbagbo made sure he postponed the election in his country until he was sure he would win and then allowed the election to take place. He got an inconclusive election in the first ballot and I believe this is the sort of thing Nigeria may fall into if I am right in what I observed as the grand plan; and then in the run-off, Gbagbo lost with eight per cent behind Ouattara and then refused to hand over…I believe that we may be seeing the repeat of Gbagbo or what I called Gbagbo saga here in Nigeria; I hope not,” Mr. Obasanjo emphasised.
On the excuse given by Security Chiefs that they cannot guarantee adequate security during election, Mr. Obasanjo said it was disappointing adding that the he thinks the military might have been forced to make that excuse.
“It was even made worst when the President in the media chat on the 11th of this month claimed not to have knowledge or not to have authorized it. I get worried, very worried that if the President of Nigeria is not in-charge of security, maintenance of law and order and such a decision can be taken behind him, assuming that is true, then the President must be reigning and not ruling and then who are the shadow figures that are ruling us? It means that one day we will find out this country would be plunged into chaos, into commotion, into confusion and the President would say, ‘I do not know about it’. Of course, the President can run but he cannot run past God…” He also expressed belief that the President’s fear is particularly motivated by whom he sees as his likely successor, that is General Buhari.
Dissecting the shift of the 2015 polls, Obasanjo’s recent allegations against President Jonathan, and the APC’s recent allegations of planned mayhem in some states, it would appear that there is more than meets the eye, as Nigerians look forward to the rescheduled polls. There may be no smoke without fire; as raised by Obasanjo.
Desperation has obviously set in as the PDP and the Presidency appeared to be determined to hold unto power by fire, by force. These approaches or antics are alien in a democratic society all over the world and the consequences could be catastrophic, because whoever is banking on power of incumbency to stoke political cum electoral crisis can never be sure of its magnitude.
Ahead of the postponed polls, the Presidency, the security hierarchy and the PDP in order to restore confidence of the Nigerians in their leadership should clear air on the allegations and show commitment to free and fair elections on March 28. The orchestrated moves to discredit and arm-twist INEC ahead of the rescheduled polls, and possibly remove its chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega to bring in a pawn to do the bidding of the ruling party will signpost nothing but irresponsible governance and impunity. Those pushing for another polls shift by foul means should be reminded that Nigerians cannot afford another shift that may likely make the conduct of the polls impossible in line with the provisions of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, whatever the outcome history will not be kind to the present PDP-led government having created tension in the country for sometime now. Another shift will not only erode the confidence of Nigerians in the process, it will portray the country in a bad light before the international community and also create more tension and suspicions in the country.
Therefore, the power drunks who are desperate to manipulate the system for selfish reason should be reminded that the election is not about Buhari or Jonathan, PDP or APC, propaganda or mudslinging, North or South, Christians or Muslims. It is about the future of the country, capable leadership and ultimately the unity of the country that has suffered seriously in this present administration.
•Williams, a teacher, wrote from Asokoro, Abuja.