It is no longer secret that President Goodluck Jonathan, desperate to win the Presidential election at all cost, has dealt a devastating blow on the nation’s security agencies and has made complete mess of the once respected institution in Nigeria by their involvement in the postponement of the general elections.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega had assured the nation and the international community that he was ready to conduct the general elections as scheduled. Most Nigerians, the International Community, Civil Society Organisations, majority of the registered political parties had advised INEC against shifting the dates of the elections. But President Goodluck Jonathan and the unruly Peoples Democratic Party sensing defeat have been looking for all crooked ways to stall the polls. They continually hinged on the fact that some Nigerians have not collected their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as excuse, considered most untenable after all, if some cards have not been collected, it is all political parties that would suffer the consequence.
Why is President Goodluck Jonathan jittery of facing Buhari in an election this time around, after all, the same Buhari contested against him in 2011 when he won overwhelmingly. Buhari has been contesting since 2003 without wining any of the elections and has continued to accept the outcomes, even under the same Prof. Jega as INEC chair. President Goodluck Jonathan, it was that appointed Prof. Attahiru Jega as INEC Chairman, if Jega was as rotten as the PDP gang, would he not have rigged the election in favour of Buhari in 2011? But even when he was appointed, every Nigerian applauded his appointment and till date no one can really contest Jega’s intellectual sagacity and untainted character. Nigerians see Jega as a man who is not corrupt like the PDP members and their government and there has been implicit confidence all the while in his favour. The question now is why the sudden turn around by the PDP? Have they finished using his credibility and want to dump him in their desperation to hold on to power?
There are speculations that the aim of the PDP routing for the postponement of the election is for them to have opportunity to sack Prof. Jega and appoint a man who would do their bidding (rig the election) since it is clear that in a free and fair contest, Jonathan and his PDP would lose. This speculation was rife, immediately the National Security Adviser (NSA) to President Goodluck Jonathan, Sambo Dasuki went to Chatam House in London to fly the kite of Jonathan’s plan. He called for the postponement of the general elections by three months. This, it was gathered was to enable the PDP announce the sack of Jega whom they fear would organise a free and fair election that would see the ouster of Goodluck Jonathan from the presidency. Since Dasuki flew the kite, it was picked up by the president’s spine doctors and booth lickers namely Chief E. K. Clark, Okurounmu, Femi Fani- Kayode, Godswill Akpabio and some ex-Niger Delta militants as well as some hired groups who give NGOs bad name in the country. The reason they gave is that they do not want Nigerians disenfranchised. Since when has the PDP and the president’s yes men be so caring to Nigerians? But interestingly, Nigerians came out to also campaign against their despicable moves. Majority of Nigerians and even the international community had advised against a postponement, but a desperate Jonathan wouldn’t listen.
When it was obvious that they were not going to succeed with their plots on the political turf, Jonathan felt the best way for him was to use the security agencies after all he appointed the security chiefs and the Inspector General of Police. He believes their loyalty must be to him and him alone, and not to the generality of Nigerians as a whole, whose taxes and resources are used to pay and maintain the armed Forces and other security agencies in the first place. We had believed all the while that the major role of the Army, Navy and Air force was to protect the territorial integrity of the country against internal and external aggression, but what we see now is a situation where, the armed forces and other security agencies are now being plunged into the murky waters of politics by President Jonathan and the PDP doing the bidding of Mr. President alone.
One comes to these conclusions when watching the INEC Chairman announcing the postponement of the elections scheduled for February saying the agency was ready to conduct the elections but had to succumb to variable outside its control. He cited security as his primary reason. He said the security chiefs told him that they cannot guarantee his security and security of his colleagues in INEC if he goes ahead to conduct the elections as scheduled. As for the PVCs, he said it was not his reason for postponement as all the PVCs have been sent to all the states for distribution across the country, an exercise that was still on until the PDP started their plot against the nation.
Having succeeded with the postponement of the elections, it does seem the next move of the jittery PDP is to muster whatever remains of their courage to announce the sack of Prof Jega. But they will fail with that plot as Nigerians would resist them to the fullest because there is no person Jonathan would appoint now that would be accepted by any political party or Nigerians at large to conduct the re-scheduled elections.
But when objectively considered, the push by President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP for the postponement of the general election is a clear indication of Leadership failure on their part. It is akin to the inability of Mr. President and his government to locate and free over 200 Chibok girls kidnapped by insurgents since last year. It is also likened to the politically motivated killings that took place all through the era of MD Abubakar as Inspector General of Police. One cannot but agree with Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka who described the Jonathan administration as being “worse than Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar.” What more? Jonathan’s administration has come to be synonymous with corruption that is why nothing seems working in the country.
Politicization of Security Agencies is dangerous for democracy anywhere in the world and Nigeria is not an exception. The PDP and the presidency are by their actions taking the nation on a dangerous path, which consequence may be dire if caution is not applied in their desperation to cling on to power. The military has no business in the politics of this country in the first place. What is the role of the police in a democracy? The Nigeria Police Force had assured the nation of its preparedness for elections in February. This made news headlines in all leading national newspapers, so at what time did security agencies know that they were no longer ready for elections? Should Nigerians depend on the armed forces for elections or the police? Who should be assuring Nigerians of safety of their lives and property during elections ? The police or the army? Over the past sixteen years, Nigerians have tried to cosign military mentality to the abyss, why is the PDP taking the nation back to the dark military era? Why take us back to the era of “my hands are tied” in our nation’s history? Nigerians are tired of one step forward, two steps backward as propounded by late Afro beat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. This is why they are rooting for change which the APC is offering.
The PDP should allow elections to go as re-scheduled. Mr. President should show the spirit of a good sportsmanship by being magnanimous in victory or defeat. He should go ahead and congratulate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari once he is announced the winner and the Buhari we know, would concede if Jonathan wins in a free and fair contest. But above all, Jonathan and his supporters must keep the military out of politics in Nigeria.
Mr. Dan Owegie is a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State.