Fifteen days from now, millions of Nigerians will troop to the polling booths to cast their votes for who will be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But this every-four-year ritual has many obstacles of which security is one.
Just few days ago, the National Security Adviser to the President, General Babagana Monguno held a crucial meeting with state governors on the issue of security during the forthcoming elections and to chart a way forward.
General Monguno, worries in his bid to ensure that the elections went as planned, warned against the use of thugs by politicians.
He said government will demonstrate zero tolerance to political thuggery and illegal bearing of fire arms.
This show of concern was apt and very necessary as experience had shown over the years that in every election in Nigeria, there was always tension and reports of acts of violence in virtually every geo-political region in the country.
Although the 1999 elections which ushered in the present democratic dispensation was peaceful, subsequent ones were not so, especially those of 2011 and 2015.
In 2011, aftermath of the elections in which former President Goodluck Jonathan emerged victorious witnessed acts of violence leading to the killing of some youth corpers and even the burning of the Kaduna City residence of former Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Apart from that, there were reported killings in other parts of the country.
The worst of such incidents was the brutal killing of the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kano State with his entire family.
In all these acts of violence, no one was arrested, prosecuted or jailed. Even the then Police Commissioner who was supposed to have provided adequate security for all electoral officers in Kano State did nothing to apprehend the culprits but was rewarded with the position of inspector-general of Police.
The problem with Nigeria is that it is quite easy to scream insecurity but when it comes to taking critical actions, sentiments come in.
The issue of political thuggery is nothing new as it has existed right from the late 1950s to early 1960s in the first republic.
Today, in the 21st century after almost 60 years of Independence, we are still talking of “Political Thuggery” as if it is something new that challenges.
Yes, it is challenging but the issue should not be addressed to the governors alone, but to all stakeholders in the electoral process. The use of thugs in elections is not only shameful and embarrassing but shows the level of desperation some politicians will go to ensure that they win elections. Again even some security operatives behave as “Thugs” during elections. In Rivers Sate, during the re-run elections in 2016, a very senior police officer was captured on video manhandling a female electoral officer while demanding for the result sheets of the election.
Similarly in Ekiti and Osun States elections, there were reports of security men chasing away potential voters.
Furthermore the verbal threats of the political actors, hate speeches with that of the body language of the president did not help matters. Although every Nigerian wants a free, fair and credible elections, have the gladiators and those who want the vote of the electorate really abreast of the chain reactions of their negative actions on the polity?
As the count-down tickles on, as Nigerians, we need to ask questions and find solutions to electoral violence and rigging. Most people who engage thugs to intimidate voters and inflict bodily harm on them are well known in the society. Even the thugs are identifiable. Then why were they not arrested in the past. If actions needed to be taken, then the Police should be allowed to do its work but in a situation where power is concentrated in few hands, the police or other security agencies cannot be effective.
From all observations of the trend in politics and power play, no police commissioner or inspector-general of police has ever resigned over policies by the government that undermines the electoral process.
This time around that the polity is already heated up with the world watching us, the national security Adviser should not just warn but ensure that the problem of thuggery was nipped in the bud and he should liaise with all security agencies to ensure that anyone caught in acts of violence was not just arrested but prosecuted, no matter the party affiliation of the individual. It is then and only then that we can say the government is serious in tracking down acts of violence during elections.
In Nigeria, we seem to treat vital issues with levity, especially on electoral matters. In other climes town hall meetings and outside engagements with the electorate help score candidates in public opinion which really translate into actual election results. Maybe they think that public enlightenment programmes are not for them.
Every electoral violence is politically motivated and the key actors are the various party chieftains and their followers who did not witness the presence of any of the political parties.
Also as part of the efforts to ensure that Nigeria departed from the past, the national orientation agency had embarked upon a massive enliftment programme, geared towards a hitchfree election devoid of violence and thuggery.
Various speakers who participate at the south-south zonal flag-off of stakeholders dialogue for peace and violence free 2019 general elections harped on the need for electorate and the political actors to shun violence. The concept which was apt surprisingly did not witness the presence of any of the political parties.
The political parties ought to have sent representatives. One begins to wonder how the 91 political parties could not even send a single representative to know the feelings of the civic society and other non governmental organizations in the south south. Maybe they will give the excuse of the campaigns, but this is not tenable.
It is the potlicians who are being accused of sponsoring thugs and equipping them with arms and ammunition. So the platform to address some of these issue is not campaign rallies but for them to meet at a neutral venue where they will dialogue with each other and the larger society.
Here in Rivers State there is urgent need to disabuse the mind of the international community that the place is volatile as being painted by those who don’t see anything good in the present administration.
The provision of adequate security is the duty of everyone and not just the duty of the police and her sister agencies.
If we recall, some few weeks back, some group of politicians threatened to ensure that elections would not hold in Rivers State if the court injuction barring them from presenting candidates in the gubernatorial, state and National assembly elections was not rescinded. This level of disdain for the collective well being of the larger society should be taken seriously by the security agencies. But however, since the threat was issued not one single individual who made that threat has been arrested and questioned.
This brings us to ask the question of whether we have two Nigeria? One for the ruling party and one for the opposition.
For the public to have trust in the system and for the issue of violence not to rear its ugly head ahead of the forthcoming elections, there should not be favouritism whereby those who commit crimes but belong to the ruling party are never arrested, whereas those in the opposition who cough are treated as armed robbers and murderers.
Let us begin to implement policies that will discourage violent tendencies. And again youths who allow themselves to be used by politicians are not just stupid but destroying their future.
Electoral violence destroys a country’s image and hinders economic growth.
No investor will like to tie his funds in a volatile environment and now is the right time for Nigerians to say a big no to thuggery and electoral manipulations.
‘Reps Passed 88 Bills In Two Years’
The House of Representatives has passed 88 bills out of 1407 bills in the past two years, its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) has said.
The House clocked two years on June 11 and has two years left.
Mr Kalu had earlier released different data on the status of legislative activities. However, The Tide source is yet to independently verify this latest data.
Mr Kalu had claimed that the House considered 853 bills and 41 of them passed, in the previous statement.
According to the new statement released on Friday, a total of 554 bills were introduced between June 2020 and June 2021. It was a sharp decline considering that the House introduced 853 bills between June 2019 and June 2020.
Although the decline could be blamed on the outbreak of Covid-19.
“The accurate number of bills considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021 is 1407 out of which the House has passed 88 bills.
“Additionally, the accurate number of motions considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021, is 730 out of which the House has made 98 resolutions on security issues.”
The data released by the lawmaker shows that while the introduction of bills has been easy, the progression of bills has been very slow.
A total of 942 bills are awaiting second reading, only 327 bills have been referred to committees, and 79 are awaiting committee of the whole consideration.
Within the same period, 730 motions were considered by the House. However, out of the 663 referred to committees, only 40 reports have been laid, and only six have been considered by the House.
Legislative activities suffered a great deal in 2020 due to the breakout of Covid-19. The National Assembly was shut down for about two months between March 2020 and May 2020.
At a point, the plenary was reduced to once a week.
However, the lawmakers did not help the situation by embarking on holidays at the slightest opportunity, thereby missing deadlines on passage of key legislation.
Also, a review of the legislative agenda of the House by The Tide source shows that the lawmakers are far behind in fulfilling their agenda.
Accord To Contest In 12 LGAs
Accord Party plans to contest only in 12 local government councils and 37 local council development areas at the July 24 council polls in Lagos State.
Its Publicity Secretary, Dele Oladeji, told newsmen in Lagos, yesterday that the party chose to contest only in its areas of strength rather than dissipate energy across the state.
He said Accord Party would contest chairmanship and councillorship seats in Somolu, Mushin, Odi-Olowo, Igando-Ikotun, Agbado Okeodo, Agege, Alimosho, Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Ikorodu, Oshodi/Isolo, and Ifako-Ijaiye LGAs/LCDAs.
Oladeji said that the party had a good outing in these councils at the last council elections in 2017.
“We are set for the election and we are competing in our local governments of strength where we won in 2017.
“We are set to repeat the same feat and even win more than the eight councillorship seats we won in 2017 to become the only opposition party in the local government administration in Lagos State,’’ he said.
Oladeji said that the party was ready to go to court wherever its mandate was stolen as it did in 2017 local government elections.
“As against 2017 when we went to court only in few areas to get back our rigged mandate, this year, we will go to court in any number of local government areas where our mandate is perceived to have been stolen through rigging.
“As the only opposition party in the local government’s administration of Lagos State, we have retained the abiding hope of Lagos residents as the alternative party.”
Okorocha Cautions Igbos On Secession
The Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha, has cautioned the South-East against their agitations for Nigeria’s breakup.
Okorocha warned that Igbos would be the worst hit if Nigeria breaks up.
The former Imo State Governor spoke in Abuja while addressing some women groups yesterday.
Okorocha stressed that the South- East should push towards fixing the country and not its disintegration.
The lawmaker stressed that Igbos are nationalistic in nature, hence they should dismiss the urge for Nigeria’s disintegration.
He said: “It is only an Igbo man that goes to a place and remains put in that place, buys a land and builds a house for his family without feeling insecure. The Igbos will lose more if Nigeria divides.
“Most Nigerian leaders who were successful had one thing or the other to do with the Igbos. It is either they married Igbo women or had some links with them. I can call names like, former President, Obasanjo; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Buba Marwa, just to name a few”.
South-East groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereignty State of Biafra, MASSOB, have been agitating for the disintegration of Nigeria.
IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu has been in the forefront, calling for Biafra’s actualisation.
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