Prior to the announcement by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, late evening, Saturday 7th February 2014, exactly a week before the Presidential election, which had long been scheduled for 14 February 2014, the body language of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, those of his supporters and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, left no one in doubt that this would happen given the scary level of desperation on the part of the PDP, its candidate and supporters who, unlike in previous elections involving the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mohammadu Buhari, suddenly became restless in a vigorous search for any item or reason to either prevent the General from contesting or ensure the election won’t hold.
For the first time in the history of civil rule in Nigeria, a ruling party is jittery and obviously oblivious of the growing political awareness among Nigerians and the fading old tactics of politicians who “confidently” win elections without the electorate.
As the campaigns moved around the country, so were calumnous banters thrown at Buhari with ultimate intention of running him down before an electorate that have swollen in numbers in favour of the retired General and former military ruler fundamentally by the statements, adverts and campaign points of the PDP and its candidate.
While Buhari gets the thumbs of everyone who abhors corruption, incompetence and all that have turned contemporary Nigeria to a Lilliput even among dilapidating countries, President Jonathan, his party and campaign team go around with an archaic belief that insults bring the votes. Their bully styled adverts are mostly laced with personal attacks against Buhari; not much about the malaise that have encapsulated the entire country like a plague.
What is even more baffling is the haste with which Nigeria has been sunk and the manner impunity has been flung against the people and their collective intellects and integrity. Lies come handy, even from government and spokepersons of Mr. President and his Campaign Organisation.
For instance, before INEC formally announced the postponement of the elections, those known to be close to Mr. President such as Chief Edwin Clark as well as the President’s National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and well known apologists like Dr. Femi Okunrounmu openly canvassed the postponement of the elections. Pockets of obviously stage managed demonstrations were held in Abuja, the country’s capital, calling on INEC to postpone the elections. Therefore, when the President claimed, during his last media chat, that he wasn’t aware of the pressure on INEC to postpone the elections, not a few will know he was merely excusing himself from the truth.
A meeting of the National Council of States was held, with the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Atahiru Jega, military and other security chiefs in attendance. It was widely reported that Jega confidently told the meeting, which also had governors and former heads of state, including Major General Mohammadu Buhari, retired, in attendance, that the electoral Commission was fully prepared for the elections.
Just few hours after the ill fated kite was nipped by majority of those in attendance at the Council of State meeting, the cyberspace was inundated with hints of a forced postponement for six weeks. This came to reality days after, under the guise of the unpreparedness of the military and security agencies for the elections as they will be busy confronting terrorism in the north east.
Of course, that the advent of terrorism and the battle against it has long been politicised is not in anyone’s doubt. These terror gangs have been pumelling most parts of the North, with little challenges for about six years, and more vociferous since August 2011 when the first major suicide bombing was recorded. They started like wild urchins, which ordinary baton weilding policemen could have dealt with, but those who could have blown them off our space read the lips of our rulers correctly. They possibly saw the politics behind the wings of the cannibals as each of the earlier attacks received comical reactions from government.
By April 2015 it will be a year 219 teenagers were seized from their hostel in Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, North East Nigeria. When they were kidnapped over 300 days ago, those who should have issued appropriate directives for their rescue didn’t believe they were kidnapped. And consequently, it took global outrage, including condemnations from leaders of other countries as well as protests to Nigerian diplomatic missions abroad and in strategic locations within Nigeria, such as the Unity Fountain in Abuja where the popular #BringBackOurGirls group consistently protested the abduction and non rescue of the Chibok school girls for government to start reacting to the incident.
Government’s reaction is evident in police attacks on these protests and in demand for higher security budgets, which has not been justified in the battle against mere urchins upgraded to deadly terror gangs of global reckoning by sheer incompetence and ineptitude.
Someone need to explain why $32.88 billion which, according to General Buhari, has been expended in budgetary allocation to the battle against terror attacks in five years and yet most parts of the north eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa came under the full control of the terrorists without a blink from the Nigerian military and security agencies until recently.
The budget increases almost every second a bomb goes off with evident casualties without records of victories by those government budgets were meant to serve. And consistently, soldiers protested and many have been victimised under the guise of mutiny and insubordination while the high command speaks like the familiar Nigerian politician that is mindless of self devaluation. Obviously, the military high command need to do more to reassure Nigerians of its commitment to securing the country’s territorial integrity and freedom to chose its leadership as several years of dictatorship under military regimes never left anyone in doubt that the Nigerian military can’t run a decent government.
The promotion of impunity has also pervaded the military, and this is clearly dangerous. The military has widely been accused of compromise in civil elections in several states, especially Edo, Ekiti and Osun states. A tape containing recorded voices of politicians and senior military officers discussing how the last governorship election in Ekiti State was manipulated, went viral recently.
Reactions to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s anger against the postponement of the 14 February Presidential election and the overbearing influence of security agencies and the military on the decision of the electoral umpire to shift the polls further evidenced Nigeria’s submission to impunity.
The swift reaction to Obasanjo’s statements against the role the military played in the election postponement, carefully posted on the website of the Defence Headquarters portend greater danger as it becomes more obvious that beyond the police and other security agencies, even the military have been compromised. The haste and instance of the denunciation of the concerns of a former President, who retired as a military General and twice headed the country as Commander in Chief of the armed forces point to a disastrous omen for a country clearly held captive by impunity. The military must keep its integrity by avoiding partisan roles in civil governance.
There won’t be more evidence of a failed state if the security system of a country is partisan and the military is readily available to ambush electoral institutions. May be, and may be, some leaders want to leave a tattered country as a legacy.
Yaqub is an Assistant Secretary at the headquarters of Nigeria Labour Congress, Abuja.

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