Boko Haram, Election, Security and Manipulation of the Military

February 9, 2015 11:50 am
The
waiting game has ended. Elections will not hold this month. That was
the outcome of the series of meetings held with stakeholders on
Saturday. The Nation reports the shift may return to the old era
where umpires shifted goal posts in the middle of the game.

The
postponement of the general elections may not be the end of the matter.
The people have more hurdles to cross in the march of electoral
democracy. According
to analysts, those behind the polls shift have a hidden agenda. As the
agenda unfolds, further damage to the electoral process can only be
averted, if all Nigerians are vigilant and bold to resist it.

With
the postponement by INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Nigeria has
regressed. Old military tricks are being reenacted. Now, propaganda is
displacing the truth again…


President
Goodluck Jonathan has looked for an excuse to justify his request for
postponement. He ultimately stirred controversy when he told Nigerians,
through his Service Chiefs, that he as Commander-in-Chief could not
guarantee their security, if the commission insisted on February 14 and
28 dates.

It
was the same trick employed by self-styled military President Gen.
Ibrahim Babangida, almost 22 years ago, to scuttle the historic June 12,
presidential election believed to have been won by businessman-turned
politician, Chief Moshood Abiola, who was the candidate of the defunct
Social Democratic Party (SDP). The Minna, Niger State-born military
leader wanted to extend his hegemony and prolong military rule. But, he
ended boxing himself into an unmitigated crisis. Till date, the ghost of
June 12 is hunting him.

At
the height of his rule, Gen. Babangida, who implemented the longest
transition programme in Nigeria, wanted to – by all means and at all
cost – abort the presidential election scheduled for June 12, 1993. He
said the military did not want the lateAbiola. At midnight, a judge was
drafted to grant an injunction against the election, few hours to the
exercise. But, as the legal luminary, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi
(SAN), pointed out, soldiers voted massively for Abiola even in their
barracks.

Today,
the linkage may be quite different, but the issue is the same –
security. In 1993, it was alleged that Abiola, a wealthy man, was
disliked by the military because he was perceived as a threat to
security. It was inexplicable. The voting party by the army put a lie
into the fabrication. In 2015, it is still security, but, in a different
context.

Rationalising
the curious request for poll shift, the Service Chiefs said that they
could not ensure the safety of voters, polling officers and materials
during the exercise.

Also,
an aide of the President, Dr. Doyin Okupe, explained that, if the
elections are allowed to proceed as scheduled, they would aggravate the
security situation in the Northeast, where the dreadful sect, Boko
Haram, has been on the prowl.

Observers
have pointed out that government’s inability to guarantee security is
an admission of failure by the President, who sworn to an oath and the
constitution that the security of life and property will be his
priority. However, hiding under the excuse by the military to postpone
polls has its implications.

It
is a double tragedy for Nigerians. First, they cannot be protected,
based on President’s remarks about the inability to guarantee security.
Second, the President is now using the military’s excuse to deny
Nigerians of their right to vote or demand for a leadership that will
guarantee security.

During
the anti-February 14 and 28 campaigns, Jega replied the paid agents
that the commission was ready to conduct the polls. But, he later
succumbed to pressure to change the date. Thus, the feeling now is that
INEC has lost its independence to government’s blackmail.

If
that amounts to a crisis of undue interference, only the law can
resolve it. But, the interference may have sent a clear signal that
government’s interference can still mar the electoral process at any
stage. This means that electoral reforms have been an unfinished
business in the country. INEC’s independence should not be subjected to
the whims and caprices of the government. It is only logical that when
INEC is not free, the ballot box cannot be safe.

Instructively,
the has labelled Muhammadu Buhari, a retired General and former
Head of State, as a dictator. But, stakeholders may now perceive the
President as a dictator in a civilian garb. When the government insisted
on a six-week extra time, contrary to INEC’s projection, it meant that
the hand of the government is heavy on the umpire, which had no
alternative than to cave in, almost under duress.

Another question is: how far can the exhumed IBB trick go? Does it have prospect?

Since 2011, there were signs that the President had a view to sell to
the polity. Shortly after his inauguration, he reflected on the
succession battles that have characterised Nigeria’s democracy. To stem
the rivalry, antagonism, acrimony and bitter competition, he canvassed a
single-term of six years for the executive. The President called for a
constitution amendment. But, the idea could not fly.

According to
analysts, the President was trying to dodge the general election to
avoid an imminent defeat. Others alleged that his party is trying to
create a logjam to frustrate the opposition. But, the puzzle is: can the
election be put on hold for ever?

Yet, there is an unanswered
question. Will Boko Haram insurgency end before March 28? The damage to
the military psyche by the struggle for power is also enormous.
According to commentators, Nigerians have to be convinced that the
military was not used to scuttle the previous date, just as IBB used the
military to truncate ‘June 12’.

The military may have suffered
under the administration as they suffered under previous
administrations. A professional military is a vital asset to the nation.
To maintain professionalism and political neutrality, it must be
insulated from partisanship. But, the institution has been abused and
misused by the powers that be. This has led the former Chief of Army
Staff, Gen. Salihu Ibrahim (rtd), to describe it as a military of
anything goes.

Besides, the military has been reduced to a shadow of itself due to obsolete equipment.

When
the Service Chiefs told Nigerians that 100 abducted children have been
rescued from Boko Haram camp and there is no evidence; when military top
brass said that they knew the whereabouts of the abducted girls and
they kept a sealed lip thereafter; and when soldiers said that they were
ready to guarantee security for voters and they later ate their words;
then, it is indisputable that the military needs help.

 
With
the suspect postponement of the elections due to pressure on INEC, the
Presidency has launched a two-pronged war to ensure that President
Goodluck Jonathan wins the election at all

cost.

The
two strategies are to stop Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential
Candidate from contesting for the post of president against Jonathan and
the replacement of the INEC Chairman, , with a less
independent-minded person as soon as possible.

Jega, it was gathered, had been described by hawks around President
Jonathan of being too independent-minded and ‘uncooperative’ despite
being given the job by the president.

Jega might have played into the hands of the evil forces by agreeing to shift the elections…

Legal war to disqualify Buhari
According
to Vanguard, competent sources said that the move to remove Jega and
the legal fireworks against Buhari, would be taken up simultaneously
this week given the timeframe made possible by the shift.

The
retired general is to be prosecuted by a team of legal luminaries for
‘lying on oath’ that he had a school certificate with the Nigerian Army
when he knew that it was untrue. The plaintiffs are said to have settled
for trying Buhari for alleged ‘perjury’ instead of outright
non-possession of certificate following legal advice that the latter
would be more difficult to prove within the time at their disposal.

Vanguard
learnt that although Jega reluctantly succumbed to pressure from the
Presidency and its security chiefs to shift the polls, he might still
not be allowed by the forces to conduct the rescheduled elections
between March 28 and April 11. Vanguard gathered from competent sources
that the Presidency was no longer comfortable with Jega and was,
therefore, working tirelessly to get him out of the commission to pave
the way for a more ‘trusted hand’ to conduct the rescheduled elections.

It
was learnt that the forces arrayed against the INEC boss had convinced
the President not to renew Jega’s tenure, which is expected to lapse on
June 13 this year. The forces, it was learnt, felt that Jega was rather
too ‘difficult’ to deal with, having not allowed himself to be dictated
to by anyone since assuming office like other appointees of the
government.

It was learnt that in a bid to sweep off Jega from
his seat without raising any dust, he would be asked to comply with the
civil service procedure by proceeding on his three months terminal leave
with effect from March 1, this year since he is expected to retire on
June 13.

S-West gov’s brother may replace Jega
Vanguard
gathered that in his place, the Presidency was considering bringing in
another academic from the South-West, who is currently heading a
tertiary institution in the country. The professor of Political Science
and International Relations is said to be a sibling of a serving
governor in the South-West, who is a close ally of President Goodluck
Jonathan and his party.

Competent sources also told Vanguard last
night that although the name of the academic had been made known in
security circles, it was not clear whether the man had been cleared by
the forces with a view to sending his name to the National Assembly for
possible confirmation, as required by law.

Working against Jonathan’s interest
As
a prelude to removing Jega from office, some close allies of the
President had started accusing him of taking side with the opposition to
undermine the success of Jonathan and his party in the next election.
Earlier last week, Jonathan’s godfather, Chief Edwin Clark and other
prominent politicians from the Southern part of the country had accused
Jega of working against the interest of the president and the PDP and
asked him to resign from the commission.

Although no evidence was
adduced by Clark and his group to support their allegation, they
nonetheless called for the arrest of Jega. Similarly, Senior Special
Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, on
Saturday, said Jega had lied about the state of the commission’s
preparedness for the conduct of the election.

In the same vein,
the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh, accused
INEC of working with the opposition to deny its members of permanent
voter cards in some states. He called on the security agents to probe
the commission over the development.

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