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Who Is In Charge Of These Polls; The INEC, Military, President Or PDP?

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

Over 10 years ago, certain axis including Ikorodu and Oshodi – Apapa Expressways in the Lagos metropolis were reputed for the almost 24 hours a week infamous activities of men of the underworld. The most established trick always deployed by the hoodlums was the persistent shout of “one chance” as the suffix of their purported destinations – (Ketu – Ojota – Mile 12 one chance) to hook their unsuspected victims. Any unfortunate commuter, who joined for sure, has entered trouble as he is dispossessed of all his valuables, and then later pushed down, while they sped off. The dastardly operation (armed robbery) was then very regular across the country and it actually gave birth to the Nigeria Police “Operation Fire For Fire” during the time of Tafa Balogun as the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

It was then that “One Chance” was unavoidably launched into the social lexical of the state. It is freely used to express a worrisome imminent or existing situation and circumstance. The lexicon is also deployed to warn or send a note of caution to people.

Presently, the entire Nigeria is in a “one chance” transit bus and it will take very quick, combined initiatives and collective efforts of every unfortunate passenger (Nigerians) to avert the looming deadly dangers from befalling it.

Recall, I mentioned last Friday that the entire country was put under a long, but painful suspension owing to the late outcome of the Council of State meeting in Abuja. The popular conclusion then was that the meeting’s rejection of elections postponement was a final blow to the proponents of the shift. Therefore, majority had prepared, although mindful of further and possible sinister plots, but not actually in the dimension it eventually took.

Not few Nigerians were rudely shocked when the news filtered in, late Friday that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), representatives of the political parties, States’ Residents Electoral Commissioner (RECs) were to lock in yet another session to debate the feasibility of formerly and agreed schedule for polls. This was actually contradicted the earlier signal (outcome of the Council of State meeting) which the public was told has ratified February 14 and 28 elections, with directive to the INEC to work out the final modalities of a “hitch – free” voting exercise with the Military and security agencies. The sad and confusing development landed Nigerians in yet another long hour of worry and suspension.

So many have predicted a change of date, ahead of the late hour official announcement, hence, the earlier but viral exchanges on different handles of the social media. If the cooperation of the teeming Nigerians put final pay to the tension in the land, thus the next step were to be fresh preparations by the INEC for the polls as rescheduled. Perhaps at that point, one might conclude that, nothing much that calls for debate, but certainly that is not the case.

Recall that the INEC Chairman, Professor Attaihiru Jega maintained his position – the commission readiness for the polls, but disclosed that the shift was sequel to lack of security assurance by the Military. Another factor argued by the ruling PDP was alleged poor as well as conspiracy (between the opposition and INEC) in the distribution of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs). Note too, the electoral body reported that the distribution has reached over 60 per cent as at last Thursday.

Ironically, before and after the outcome of the Saturday meeting, there have been so many contradictions between the public statements and actions of some members of the ruling house and the reasons why the polls were postponed. For instance, while the INEC meeting (Saturday) was in progress, former Minister, Musiliu Obanikoro was granting an interview in a Lagos private radio station and busy tweeting and posting so many allegations and accusations against Professor Jega. He alleged in one of them that Jega was very arrogant as he once petitioned him when he was still a Minister, but never got a reply. He argued endlessly and was categorical in his demand that Jega must be shown the way out as it was cleared that he has compromised with the opposition.

If you consider this as not being too pressing, another President Jonathan mega phone and fanatical aide, Dr. Doyin Okupe who (recently seems to be on brief sabbatical) attempted a very offensive attack at a function in Abuja last Sunday where he was quoted as saying: “General Buhari is not electable and would not be elected by the grace of God. And why I am saying that is this, Nigeria would not have a President that has not gone to school. This is not going to happen. In Nigeria it will not happen. In Nigeria it would not happen.” Although, he got in response what he never bargained for as he was shouted down, booed and frustrated by his audience who in unison chorused his boss major rival party’s acronym in a daring show of solidarity and total disregard for his calculated mischief.

The key point here is that what are the links between the reasons offered for the elections postponement, Okupe as well as Obanikoro’s personality attacks?

Then came Mr. President “Special” Media Chat, Wednesday. One of the issues featured in the interview session was President Jonathan’s trust in Jega, especially with respect to the rumoured plan to sack him and possibility of the elections to hold. The President answered all the questions positively and in direct contrast to his party members’ comments.

Still, earlier the same day, another overzealous and desperate PDP returnee, Chief Femi Fani – Kayode, pronounced vote of no confidence on Professor Jega as he alarmed that there were calculated attempts to deprive some parts of the country that would traditionally vote for President Jonathan of their PVCs, as against the parts that would traditionally vote for the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, (rted) have since been provided with the Voters cards.

Also the same day at another forum, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu accused INEC (which has maintained its preparedness) of poor preparation and directed, it should organize its house.

So many characters in one party, yet with different positions and views on one issue! Does anyone still doubt Nigeria has been caught in the electoral web and presently in a one chance bus with so many drivers claiming Mr Right? What a confusion and mess!

Definitely, Nigeria is in trouble, especially in ascertaining who actually is in charge of these general elections. Given President Jonathan contrary Media Chat response on his faith in Jega; the strange over bearing and instigated penchant interest of the Military on elections (whether it will hold or not ) as well as hatred remarks by the President’s men, give the impression that except with the benefit of doubt, possibility abounds of the rescheduled elections not holding after all.

The reason for this, is that nobody as we speak, could confirm who holds the ace between the INEC, Military, President Jonathan, his party members or aides for the polls to be conducted. This is despite the fact that the responsibility primarily lies on the electoral body. So, as Nigeria is now in one chance bus, what necessary steps are expected to be taken to salvage it from the looming and fatal electoral disaster?

First, Nigerians in spite of President Jonathan assurance should not foreclose the likelihood of this administration attempting to install an interim government, most especially, the designed tricks do not materialize, thus the outcome failed to tally with the ruling house’s expectation. Never mind the impression being given to the public that Mr. President has no vested inclination in the final result – whoever wins.

This country and Nigerians should not be robbed again. Therefore, Nigerians must begin to prepare for resisting the repeat of June 12, 1993 Presidential election treatment. Despite the fact that Mr. President has given assurance that he would conduct free and credible elections as well as inaugurate new government on May 29 this year, patriotic Nigerians must be proactive; attentive and observant of the issues directly or indirectly related to the March and April rescheduled elections in and outside the country as they unfold.

As mentioned last week, there were so many plots calculated at frustrating the polls, hence, people should be expectant of more gimmicks, measures and actions before the lapse of the remaining five out of the six weeks grace. An example here, what explanation can be provided for the embarked intimidation of the opposition members? As at today, there is a case of a national Chieftain in Lagos and another in Abuja both reported first week after elections were postponed.

Mr. President, Can you kindly explain to Nigerians why the opposition members are being haunted and harassed without any specific reason (s) (to the public knowledge) or is that one of the confidential security briefs given to you by the operatives as you mentioned in your last Media Chat? But Nigerians are wondering why similar treatment has not been extended to the repented Niger Delta militant leaders who support you and till the moment (despite your party late reservation) sustain their threats of war, should you fail to secure re – election. These men as they stick to their provocative comments still move freely in and out of Nigeria.

And Mr. President, your party members would turn around, accuse the opposition of propaganda, bias and incitement. Of course, with this lopsidedness, Nigerians and the entire world will indeed trust you and hold the security in the high esteem. In other words, President Jonathan, security under your watch (in your language) are indeed for Nigerians. I hear you.

These are critical issues that call for serious concern and the reason I mentioned earlier that there was need for Nigerians to be resolute and objectively resist actions that will jeopardize achieving and realizing common dreams and goals – for people to freely vote with conviction and according to their conscience.

And let me quickly bring this up; the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal last Friday in an unprecedented eight hours judgement dismissed among other grounds your party’s candidate in the August 9 poll, allegation of N14 million bribe to DSS against the State ruling party to rig. The same agency coordinated the invasion and attack on the major opposition last year, accusing it of plots to hack into the INEC server as well as cloning of PVCs. These serious allegations were roundly condemned by Nigerians, but ironically you and your party glossed over it and you went to the extent of using it as a political score point in your first Presidential rally in Lagos last month.

Please note sir, there is absolutely no correlation between the above and the just leaked audio tape on the successful plot on how the Saturday June 21, 2014 Ekiti gubernatorial election was rigged by your party. I say that because evidence made available are verifiable and affirmative. In any case, a serving Minister in your cabinet has confirmed the meeting. So, how do you now disengage or dismiss the characters and their speeches as put on tape? Unlike Maryln Ogar two spurious and ‘calculated’ damning allegations which up till the moment, did not fly beyond mere public pronunciation, the Ekiti election audio saga could go far. And this is the more reason I welcome readiness of your Lagos ‘noise maker’ to approach the court on the matter, so as to oblige the public the truth of the matter.

President Jonathan, the points being established here is that, you, your party and some of the security agencies have honestly not been fair with the main opposition so far. Mostly, you and your party quickly jump to conclusion and active when allegations against the opposition are made, but chose to be cold and go under, when issues turned against your party and its members. This is not fair and not good for the growth of our democratic system as you made oath to protect.

Another point is that whether by deliberate or omission, you have not been assertive so far, in the way you comment on the conduct of the coming elections. If you do, there is no need for the country to be thrown into the raging confusion due to disconnection in your views, comments and your party stalwarts on issues bothering the INEC headship. President Jonathan, you must shut your men up, provided if those comments you made on Professor Jega during your Media Chat were actually from the depth of your heart and not mere political or ‘diplomatic’ statements.

Finally, it is only when you prove from all indications that the INEC is not pressurized by the security under your watch and it is truly independent, Nigerians will be convinced that the Commission is really and truly in charge of these crucial polls. Otherwise, we should be talking of different INEC and not the freed electoral empire; we had in 2011 general elections. Also, it is only then that many Nigerians will believe you that you are willing to allow the polls to hold freely and creditably.

What’s Unique In The “Special”…Media Chat?

President Jonathan, if you have done an independent assessment of your Wednesday “Special” Media Chat, you might agree with the position that a whole lot of Nigerians were not impressed, hence concluded that nothing was really special in that barely over an hour interview session, especially the qualities of most of what you said.

On stealing and corruption; there is a saying in Yoruba that: Eni ba paro a jale (the one who lies will steal). This goes to justify that stealing cannot stand without corruption. The explanation is that if a mind (person) is incorrupt, he would not steal. So your frantic effort to separate or underplay corruption with stealing, to me as a student of Human Communication, was nothing, but semantic. Simply put, if you steal, you are corrupt and there is no folk anywhere, who could not understand that (no matter how daft) if the expressions are broken down and localized, period!

Threats by the Niger Delta Militant Warlords. Mr. President, you were so vague and evasive on this matter that your listeners could not point out any substance from your response. The only categorical response you could muster was that the major actors (you and Gen. Buhari) did not change, rather, the characters that surrounded both of you. Who are these characters please? President, again, you were not fair to Nigerians as you were economical with the truth. Your listeners would have rather like to hear you saying you have at a particular time or the security under your watch had seriously dealt with the matter (to the public knowledge). And with this, you still promised free, fair and credible elections. I wish and pray so too.

Finally, on insurgency; you said the Nigerian authorities had finally sought the cooperation of the neighboring countries to confront the militants. Does that suggest that cooperation was not sought over the last five years at least, or the efforts deployed before now, were not properly channeled and well-coordinated? The late cooperation looked very strange than being real. So there is a vacuum here. But you and your security chiefs know better. So whether the Multinational Force succeeds or not in the task before it, the fact remains your administration is not up to the task in the war against insugents. In this case, you might still need another or more of the chat for clarifications, before the lapse of the remaining five weeks to the general elections.

E – Mail: tjyaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun



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