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Beyond The Council of States’ Opposition To Elections Shift

INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau – First, I must confess that this week to me, as a columnist in the recent times, is the most tasking, brain-cracking and engaging, with respect to the issue to pick on, as well as coming up with an ‘inclusive’ caption – headline. What I am driving at, is not about dearth of issues (as there are more than enough) to treat, rather, the challenge that confronted me was how best to properly joggle and lump all the trending topics/issues together, under one proper and ‘generally’ acceptable title. So gentlemen, here is the final outcome, then follow and read on.

This week and in particular yesterday (Thursday) was very unique out of so many others as Nigeria gradually matches into the decision (elections) weeks. The day was special as the entire country was obviously put under a long but avoidable suspense – waited for the outcome of the Council of States meeting on feasibility of barely a week general elections to be, as planned or not.

Well, in line with the general expectation, the forum finally helped to ‘temporarily’ douse the mounted tension not only in Nigeria, but across the shore, when members resolved and announced last night that the polls would hold as scheduled. Let me established here that, the so called meeting with the topic, put in the front burner was needless in the first instance, if not for certain ‘strange’ developments that are currently playing out from certain quarters in the country’s political space. If not for the sudden phobia suddenly developed within a particular camp, what such meeting, at a time like this, ordinarily is expected to convene and deliberate on (if at all is called) is to ask the electoral body – the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to brief it on the final update with a view to setting the elections ball rolling, not the debate over whether it was ready to conduct them as witnessed.

And this leads to the alarming and disturbing aspects of the approaching general elections. I do not know who are those Nigerians still in doubt that the needless (relating to its main debate) Council of States meeting was only an option out of so many by those, whose utterances and body languages in the last three weeks or more have, clearly suggested they fear defeat, thus plot to disrupt the elections, using some weak excuses to actualize their parochial and unpatriotic agenda.

Ahead of Thursday meeting, Nigerians witnessed some dramatic moves such as sponsored protests calling for shift in the coming polls and some instigated opposition political parties joining in the fray – also demanding for elections postponement, not to mention the nationwide ‘cash exchange hands’ in all strata that matter, aimed to achieve similar goal. The week also witnessed shocking cancellation of the Wednesday press briefing planned by the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, as he was under an intense pressure to hold back. The calculation was that if Jega failed to be reassuring and assertive at the meeting, then the push for elections postponement will be justifiable.

However, despite the country leaders’ endorsement, I am yet to be convinced that the people scheming for the polls shift have given up. Beside the Council’s meeting and its sinister intention, there are pending court cases against a rival and strong opposition candidate; the alleged interim government as well as possible Military take over. Well, the ruling party has publicly denied the last two. One can only hope these denials were for real.

Therefore, beyond the Council of States meeting, what becomes of the coming general elections, its results (if at last hold) and future of Nigeria if other stated options are deployed? As we speak, there are not less than six suits before Justice Ademola Adeniyi, of a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging the qualification and seeking for disqualification of the leading opposition Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd). The next hearing has been fixed for Monday, February 9, 2015. Of course, the opposition APC has equally filed parallel suits seeking to strike out those and suits against its candidate.

So, what happens if for instance the former Head of State is disqualified by the court; which counter judgement will the opposition be able to obtain in about six days (by Monday) to Presidential election? Justice Adeniyi’s Monday verdict going against the opposition is a possibility, so should be a source of serious concern to every Nigerian who wishes the elections should hold peacefully and successfully. Such development will definitely throw spanner in the coming elections as well as draw serious panic across the land.

Again, beyond the leaders’ meeting elections approval and Monday verdict, other lined up options and possibilities are (likely) late court judgement either to stop the elections from holding or abrupt end to the polls, (recall Professor Humprey Nwosu and eve of June 12, 1993 Presidential election) especially if those being haunted with the fear of unknown find themselves at the very “obvious” but unacceptable (to them) level. The option here will be outright annulment, which predictably will spark off protests, litigations, “smuggled” debate for installation of interim or government of National unity. The remotest of the likely and hatched agenda is Military take over. These are the agenda in the pipeline – the possibilities.

For those who stick to these selfish and destructive agenda, there is need for urgent reflection and reminiscence of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election’s annulment and the corresponding months of siege across the country; the tension; the loss of lives and property; the civil disturbance and monumental economic losses. Any Nigerian who wishes the country well and patriotic enough will never wish such troubles befall Nigeria anymore.

After the Thursday’s meeting, Nigerians should not be carried away and assume that all is well about the coming decisive elections. The highlighted heinous options should be given the deserving attention and treatment, hence, the untiring, persistent and coordinated anti advocacy.

If these options were not mentioned and discussed at the Council of States meeting, could it be convened again and x –ray them? Can another respectable stakeholder forum come up, throw up these issues, deliberate on them and make the major actors – the PDP, President Jonathan; the APC and other political parties endorse another undertaking (possibly) could be used as an exhibit if any party reneges on its avowed commitment in case of litigation?

This is another task for the Council of States; other stakeholders and Nigerians at home and diaspora in general. It is very urgent and significant these concerns are given due attention and proper handling, just as the country is regrettably heading for likely political chaos if there is no necessary cooperation from the ruling house.

For now, Nigerians need to and must be very vigilant, observant, and attentive to the expressions and body languages of the various actors within the ruling ‘mafia’, so also their associates within and outside the government. In particular is the President Goodluck Jonathan. As I mentioned in the last week’s analysis, if at all you do not have hand in the various disturbing and unfolding signals ahead of this very crucial (Presidential) election, please and kindly call your men to order.

President Jonathan, be told for umpteenth time, that your men who are currently deploying various tactics and gimmicks to cause setback to the coming elections, are not for you, but rather against you; they are not interested in you, but themselves. Some of them are AGIP – any government in power. Mr. President, do not be deceived further that neither you, your party nor its members, can never love this country more than over 150 Million matured Nigerian populace. So, it is important you feel the peoples’ pulse – let their wish be manifested, recognized, respected, pronounced and stand in the coming elections without any hindrance and undue interference as well as resentment.

President Jonathan, for you to allow a generally applauded free and credible elections and have your names in the world Guinness book of records is more honourable, historic and very outstanding, while the long term impacts are far reaching than supporting and funding barbaric, unpopular, self-serving and retrogressive agenda as presently being witnessed. Please rediscover yourself, that these moves will not land neither you nor the country in a desirable and pleasant destination. Think sir. As you have done and warned against in the past, you have again been unnecessarily carried away with personal interest.

President Jonathan, please reflect; be more patriotic and listen very well to yourself, not your co – politicians this crucial time. Fellow compatriots, call on and prevail on this President to bury his personal interest and allow the national’ to rule. In demonstrating this and beyond the Council of States resolution – elections endorsement; you should direct your field men and your party to withdraw all the existing court cases relating to your strong opponent in the February 14, Presidential poll.

This is attainable. After all, the same was done in the case of Chris Giwa versus Amaju Pinnick, when Justice Ambrose Allagoa of Federal High Court in Jos, the Plateau State capital, upturned himself, in an infamous ruling, relating to the headship of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) between late October and early November last year. You know that your intervention safe the country dangling but avoidable FIFA second or third? sanctions.

And there is yet another serious twist to the interim government option. A notable and very influential national chieftain of the country’s leading opposition is purportedly being suggested, drafted into and approached over the deal. If this is true, let it be said clearly here that the Chieftain (if consented to such evil plan) will receive just like the perpetrators and those in the similar shoes (in the past) a hefty political blow and his long and hard earned political career and reputation, that he presently enjoys a resounding accolades as well as loud ovation, will suffer an everlasting setback not only in his geo political zone, but throughout Nigeria. The political character in question knows and understands better, the imports of the above and has before him, the disastrous political profiles of the previous betrayers and conspirators. Never try people’s will!

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, come out very clean, clear and wash yourself off this utterly smearing mud. Tell Nigerians and the entire world that truly, you were approached (or not?), but you were categorical and emphatic in your NO reply. Asiwaju, you have gone a long way and far exposed more than this type of dangerous, narrow – minded and politically dubious moves and calculations. So, come out, talk to Nigerians and the entire world to clear the air on this nauseating, worrisome and looming signal please!

Finally, President Jonathan, your utmost agenda as far as the coming elections are concerned is that you should direct full final stop to all the unfolding orchestrated plans and moves to scuttle the polls one way or another; allow the elections to hold freely and creditably. If in the end, you truly win, trust Nigerians, you will be hailed. Still, if truly, you lose, accept the defeat; then face the governance business within the constitutionally permitted period you have and plan your transition programme, then subsequently our dear country thrives peacefully. This is the best you can do for this great nation as Nigerians decide the next leader coming Saturday.

President Jonathan’s Supporters; Be Objective And Tolerant, Please

I mentioned in my analysis titled: “What Will Happen If Buhari Wins The Presidential Election?” a fortnight ago. In it, I established that it was common in the ruling family that mostly, if anyone differs with any of the President Jonathan administration’s policy or style and so declared, such is called names and accused of partisanship, meddling and mudslinging. The President’s supporters by my experience, (online and offline) are always quick to muddle up facts, and have penchant and unthinkable exception for this President. What I mean is that what should provoke an accusation from a President’s fan for instance, that the other person in a conversation or a discussion is bias against him (President). Do these folks ever take pains to remember that, to every topical issue, there exist, different angles to it, just like two sides of every coin? Does it ever occur to them that as they have the right to support and defend President Jonahan and his administration policies, likewise others do to whoever they so wish with no pretence?

They must be faced with this reality whenever they are engaging others in debate with the present Nigerian leader. Again, what I personally wish to put to them is that, virtually in most cases, no one hates President Jonathan as an individual, rather many unpardonable lapses (which himself consistently acceded to) that are associated with his government. So, as Nigerians, everyone has the right to belong to any side of the coin he wishes, yet the critique and reservations must always be made in good faith and ultimately in the interest of the country.

On this matter, I will present three trending topics. First are the sustainable war threats by the repentant Niger Delta warlords if their Ijaw kinsman is defeated in the February 14 Presidential Poll. The threats linger despite the last weekend ruling PDP belated warning against such damning and provocative utterances. Second is the aborted debate launched about two weeks ago, by the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Professor Charles Soludo and offensive response of the Finance Minister, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala to the alleged N30 trillion (either missing, stolen or misappropriated in the last six years) in the lengthy pieces (1 and 2) in the government circle by the accuser, Professor Soludo. Whether the figure is that much or otherwise, such political response by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy was not civil and undemocratic, even given her exposure and background.

The third instance is the recommendation of the forensic audit report on the alleged missing $20 billion oil money from NNPC. The former CBN boss, Emir Lamido Sanusi who blew open this dirty dealing was labeled with all sort of adjectives, his allegations were thrown into wind and finally was shown the way out! To worsen the debate, the Senate in a hasty and shoddy showmanship, dismissed the allegation and affirmed no single kobo was missing! The same allegation has finally been confirmed as the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura, yesterday told the country that the audit report indicted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) as well as recommended the “refund of $1.48 billion” by the duo to the Federation account. Personally, the presentation by the Auditor General was not enough. Instead, the government should be courageous enough to make available the entire report and let the multinational accounting firm endorse such.

Finally, the President’s supporters should be more mindful of their frame of minds and be fair in their defence and inferences. After all, in the three instances, cited above, Mr. President and his government gallantly lost the arguments. Once again, they should remember, if they enjoy the privilege to support and defend the President (only objectively and fairly), others equally do, and never, this should result to names calling.

E – Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun          



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