Much Ado About 6 weeks
It is already global news that Nigeria has postponed by 6 weeks the general elections earlier scheduled for February 14 and 28, to March 28 and April 11.The postponement of the elections as announced by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was based on security consideration, as advised by the National Security Adviser (NSA). It did not come as a surprise as there have been feelers that the NSA is orchestrating a plan to scuttle the polls. What is however surprising is the audacity with which they actually made it a reality so brazenly without shame or consideration for the survival of our fragile democracy.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) had written the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to say it could not provide the required security for all stakeholders should the elections take place because the military is launching a major offensive against Boko Haram in the North Eastern part of the country and will be too stretched to provide security cover to guarantee the security of the electoral process. While I am not a pessimist to consider this reason as ‘a story for the gods’ like we have sadly become accustomed to; I will also be extremely cautious in my optimism. Perhaps the military has suddenly happened upon a magic wand to rectify the menace of the Boko Haram sect in a record time of six weeks. To that I say AMEN if it is indeed true.
INEC stated they are ready to conduct the elections but cannot do so without adequate security provision. It is safe to say the NSA successfully blackmailed the commission by threatening to withhold security if the elections are not reschedules. I do not blame Prof. Attahiru Jega because given the circumstances he could not have taken a different route. I must therefore commend him and urge him to remain steadfast, to put Nigeria first and ensure speedy distribution of PVCs to all registered voters across the country, who are yet to receive theirs. He should also consciously remember that a good name is far more precious than riches. History will judge him fairly or harshly depending on the path he tows through these turbulent times. I urge him to tow the path less travelled; the path of honor.
I have the following expectations for the authorities to meet, within the imposed postponement:
• That our 219 Chibok girls who have been in captivity for 301 days be found and rescued and same for other abducted persons in the camps of the terrorists.
• I expect that for real this time, Abubakar Shekau, the dreaded leader of Boko Haram will be truly be eliminated and the insurgency brought to an end. And I hope he stays dead. Enough resurrection tales!
• INEC should be able to conduct registration/PVCs distribution in the North East and to all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in camps, so they are not disenfranchised.
I must acknowledge the bravery of our gallant soldiers fighting for the sovereignty of our nation; May their reward exceed the sacrifices they have made.
Quite frankly, in the next 6 weeks I anticipate an unprecedented drama in the country.
• The General Muhammadu Buhari eligibility will be played up and an “Inspired” judge may pronounce him disqualified. This will perhaps set us on a path we really do not want to imagine.
• Prof. Attahiru Jega may go the way of our former CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi now His Royal Highness, the Emir of Kano. We must however resist this completely; the time to curtail the unchecked height of impunity is now.
• More character assassination adverts. Really? Can we be spared and just deal with issues please? The funds! This is by far the most expensive presidential campaign in our history and we got another 6 weeks to spend more money. The season is good especially for the media.
• Renewed cloning and counter cloning scandals, Misuse of the military, clampdown on political ‘threats’ and more misguided utterances from unlawful quarters.
• Increased number of PVCs collection. This is perhaps the only positive thing in this whole unfortunate and avoidable development. There is no excuse, everyone should go and collect their PVCs. 6 weeks is sufficient, decide to vote come March 28th and April 11th; it is the patriotic thing to do.
A lot can and will happen in 6 weeks. One thing that is most imperative is that we must not resort to violence under any guise no matter the provocation. To do otherwise will be to seal our fate negatively and we can wish elections goodbye for the next 2 years. This is legitimately possible under section 135 subsection 3 in our Constitution. It states;
“If the Federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the President considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (2) of this section from time to time; but no such extension shall exceed a period of six months at any time”
We cannot by our conduct in disagreement with the postponement create a window for the enforcement of this law. Riots and uncoordinated Protest will rub off wrongly. State your position without violence. Let’s be wise.
On the issue of postponement, this is nothing short of a coup d’état against the constitution, the people and our democracy.The truncation of our democracy is eminent if this singular action goes unchallenged; we must condemn it in very strong terms, so strongly it should not be imagined again.
There is work to be done and we cannot fail in our responsibilities as citizens. The battle against what is wrong has nothing to do with your political affiliations, ethnicity or religiosity rather it has everything to do with your patriotism as Nigerians and the preservation of our country. We must Defend and Protect Nigeria by every legitimate means available.
I urge you in the interest of our nation to speak against this abuse, use the social media to curtail this growing dictatorship, engage in peaceful protests to register that the constitution is not a pawn. As patriotic Nigerians, there is no sitting on the fence; a very bad precedence has been set. Abuse of future elections is almost inevitable if we do nothing to denounce this inclination, people will take the option of postponement to ensure the dice falls in their favor. This is unhealthy for our democracy and our nation.
Nigeria is at the threshold again, your loyalty is first and only to Nigeria.
While we are addressing this illegal postponement can the leaked recording of militarized rigging of the Ekiti State Election be looked into? It is shockingly-worrisome that it happened that way, makes me shudder at the upcoming general elections. It is very disturbing.
Florence C. Ozor
Facebook: Voting RIGHT Movement