2019: Concerns and disturbing sound-bites, By Chima Nwafo

Posted by News Express | 10 October 2018 | 1,632 times

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•US Consul-General John Bray

“This leadership style that has elevated sectionalism to near state policy has not only left the country divided, but also enthroned mediocrity over competence, leaving Nigerians pauperised, insecure and their commonwealth plundered.” — Majeed Dahiru

Even though political parties in Nigeria have reduced presidential/governorship to personality contest with a facade of geo-political interests - devoid of issues and leadership – 2019 general election poses a daunting challenge, if the actors sincerely care about the survival of the nation. There is no better scientific evidence to evaluate the state of the nation than a brief examination of sound-bites on trending socio-political issues, beginning from the most recent.

Perhaps, with the exception of the impetuous and sanctimonious All Progressives Congress (APC), every other observer and participant in the just-concluded governorship election in Osun State agree that the conduct of INEC and security agents was not above board. And, as would be expected, party members magnified the impunity.

The US Consul-General, John Bray, who spoke on behalf of the United Kingdom, European Union and United States’ missions, noted: “We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters, and heard reports of harassment of party monitorsjournalists and domestic observers. We are very concerned by these reports.”

Given our penchant for stereotype branding, it was important to begin with the assessment of neutral foreign monitors, before presenting the experience of local observers. Understandably, theirs corroborates the Euro-American mission report.

“The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) observers reported several cases of denial of access to Polling Units to observers, and even voters. CDD field observers, especially in Orolu and Osogbo LGAs, were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces. Credible reports from our field observers showed that despite being duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), several of the observers and journalists were stopped from observing the process….

“In the light of these anti-democratic acts, which have undermined the sanctity of the ballot, we hold strongly the view that the rerun poll ofThursday, September 27, 2018 does not meet up with the minimum standards for free, fair and credible elections. It falls short of global best practices in democratic elections which Nigeria aspires towards. The acts of intimidation by security forces and the violence unleashed by party thugs are suggestive of an attempt to compromise the integrity the poll.”

This calls into relevance the prediction Babatunde Elijah Ayodele, Primate and Spiritual Leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos, in an interview with the News Express online:

“The elections in 2019 will lead to lots of killing, and many lives will be lost in the process. Nigeria, as we know, is sitting on a keg of gun-powder. There are lots of tensions in many parts of the country; and by the time the election draws nearer, it will spread round. Those fanning the embers of the present discord are not relenting on their oars… No doubt, it will be too dicey.”

The foregoing anomalies raise the issue of credibility of the electoral system in an administration where the entire security architecture is so parochially structured to ensure 100 per cent loyalty to the President.

Reacting to this unprecedented lopsidedness in federal appointment, human right activist, Emmanuel Onwubiko wondered: What this latest assault to the Constitution means is that the coming 2019 election will not be free and fair: Because, the entire security apparatuses are in the hands of Hausa/Fulani, even as the hierarchy of the electoral body (INEC) is in the hands of Fulani, while the man to print the ballot papers is Buhari's kinsman. Already, the head of INEC had made a sensational remark stating that due to insecurity he may shift the date of the election.”

Reacting to the appointment of Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi as substantive Director-General of the Department of State Service, after the sack of Lawal Daura, elder-statesmen Chief E K Clark (South-south), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South-west), Chief John Nwodo (South-east) and Dr Bitrus Pogu (Middle Belt), introspected: “The I-don’t-care attitude of the President on Nigeria’s security architecture, where 16 out of 17 service chiefs are from his corner of the country, is unfortunate. Since 1960, Nigeria has never had a leader more sectional, narrow, parochial and tribalistic like the current President who went on a global stage to divide Nigeria into 97 per cent and 5 per cent.”

Besides, despite the increasing bloodletting by the Fulani herdsmen in parts of the country over which the Arewa-friendly BBC once described Nigeria as “funeral parlour” - for opportunistic considerations -  some Nigerians are not disturbed about the failure of the Presidency to either halt the killings or even arrest/prosecute the perpetrators. From Adamawa where over 50 fellow Nigerians were recently murdered to Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Southern Kaduna, among others, there could only be a temporary reprieve. On Friday September 14, the following sound-bites were captured:

1. “21 killed in fresh attack in Zamfara, attributed to bandits in Badarawa village, Shinkafi LGA, Zamfara State.”

2. “Herdsmen’ve murdered 560 in Benue – Gov Ortom”

3. “Illegal Detention: Court awards N10.5m to Jones Abiri (Bayelsa journalist detained for 2 years by DSS and freed after the international community cried out)”

4. “Plateau: We lost 300 in 4 months – Berom (Barki Ladi and Riyom LGs)”

5. “Violence, insecurity worrisome – Catholic bishops.”

6. “Sit-At-Home: Army, Police, take over Onitsha, clamp down on IPOB. (Observation of 2017 Operation Python Dance in South-east that claimed over 100 Abia youths/IPOB members and invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s Afara home has attracted a show of force in the South-east with Army, Police, Navy and DSS operatives operating on the streets…).”

In Taraba State, an APC chieftain differed, and averred: “Why I want to challenge Buhari – Khaliel”. He is ready to dare the incumbent president.

His words: “Like every other thing about this administration, it seems they are completely confused and lacks understanding of the issues. The Federal Government is not sincere. That is why killings are still going on at Anka in Zamfara State, where the government said they have set up military formations. In the end, it is all about how much some people will make from others’ misery.” — Daily Sun Sept 14, 2018.

The review deliberately ignores the unflattering state of the economy, especially Nigeria’s unprecedented debt peonage and swelling ranks of the poor, which has elevated Nigeria above India as host of the world’s poorest. British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed it right here at Abuja. The average Nigerian feels the impact: from the city elite, farmers and petty-traders to the millions of unemployed graduates, and even party supporters. Yet, the ruling APC government denies it. Can playing the ostrich or buck-passing a solution to the monumental problems confronting Nigeria today?

This piece is intended to set an agenda for presidential aspirants and respective   party stakeholders, because Nigeria is on the brink. The stakes are high. The task is quite demanding. It’s not a game for a politician. No, it requires a leader/statesman. It’s not a popularity contest. It calls for skill, genuine integrity, transparency and a sound mind.

•Nwafo, Consulting Editor, News Express Online, Lagos, could be reached on: chi_dafo@yahoo.com; 080 2933 4754.

Source: News Express

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