The All Progressives Congress has described the “unholy” alliance between the President Goodluck Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party administration, and the Nigerian military hierarchy as the greatest threat to the nation’s democracy.
The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said this at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.
He explained that recent events which preceded the shift of the date of the general elections from February 14 and 28by six weeks was a pointer to this fact.
According to him, the hierarchy of the military had been compromised to serve the interest or the personal agenda of President Jonathan.
The APC chairman said it was unheard of anywhere in the world that the military hierarchy would write a joint letter to an independent electoral body in a democracy; to state that it was incapable of providing security for an election.
Odigie-Oyegun said, “The greatest threat to our democracy today is the way the ruling party has compromised the leadership of the Nigerian military to serve the personal agenda of President Jonathan. This is a dangerous game.
“A recent court judgment in Sokoto clearly ruled that the military had no role in the electoral process. What happened with this postponement is that service chiefs simply vetoed a democratic process on the directive of President Jonathan. We know what politicisation is doing to our once proud military institution.
“We are aware that the Presidency has forwarded a secret memo to all commanders of divisions and battalions of the Nigerian Army for a three-day strategy meeting in Kaduna from today (Monday) on how to use the military to intimidate voters in the APC states to rig election in favour of President Jonathan.”
The opposition party also explained that the recent revelations about the role of the military in the Ekiti State elections was a demonstrable proof of how far Jonathan government would go to compromise the military as an institution.
Odigie-Oyegun wondered if it could be that when the service chiefs said they would not have enough personnel to provide security for the elections, “what they are actually saying is that they would not have enough soldiers to intimidate voters in favour of the ruling party if the elections had proceeded as scheduled?”
The party’s national chairman noted that it was the party’s preliminary reaction to the postponement of the 2015 general elections, it noted that the decision taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission had thrown up so many questions which he said would be reviewed by the organs of the party.
He recalled that on the January 22, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), at Chatham House, London had declared that INEC was not ready for the elections and went ahead to advise the electoral body to postpone the election.
Odigie-Oyegun pointed out that the reason Dasuki gave for his unsolicited advice was that substantial number of registered voters had not collected their Permanent Voter Cards.
He also observed that Dasuki did not say anything about security concern even though Boko Haram was an issue then as it was even now.
“So, at what point did concern over election shift from PVC to security concern?” Odigie-Oyegun asked.
The APC also recalled that when the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited on January 25, he wanted a categorical commitment from President Jonathan that the elections would hold as scheduled.
The President, he noted, assured the American envoy that the elections would hold.
“Was it that his security chiefs had not briefed him on the security situation in the country and how this would affect the election timetable at the time he was making this promise?” Odigie-Oyegun wondered.
Odigie-Oyegun equally drew the attention of Nigerians as well as the international community to the fact that on February 2 at the National Peace Committee meeting in Abuja with the representatives of different political parties, the service chiefs gave assurances of their readiness for the elections.
At the occasion, the APC chief said the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, gave assurances of the Armed Forces preparedness for the elections. Odigie-Oyegun quoted Badeh as saying “even though we are busy in the North-East, we also have capabilities across the nation.”
He added that Badeh also admitted that the role of the military was merely to support the police in providing security during elections.
The APC chief added, “At the same event, the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Kenneth Minimah said, ‘We are aware of the need for security, before, during and after the elections. We will deploy across the states of the Federation in areas we discover that have capacity for violence. We are prepared to ensure we have peaceful elections.
“Also speaking at the event, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Adesola Amosun, said, ‘We have commenced the air lift of the materials needed for the elections, starting from Abuja. We will continue with the elections.’”
Oyegun argued that, “The sum total of all these is that only 12 days before the elections and despite the state of insecurity in the North-East, the entire military high command assured the nation of their readiness to provide security for the elections.
“However, only three days later on Friday, February 6, these same service chiefs wrote to INEC a letter, which by all practical purposes could be described as a blackmail, saying that they would no longer be able to provide security for the elections? What happened in those 72 hours that brought about this complete volte face?”
The party accused President Jonathan and the Director of the National Information Centre, Mr. Mike Omeri, of deliberately engaging in scare-mongering to cow Nigerians into submission by their conducts and utterances over the state of the nation’s security.
Odigie-Oyegun said the APC as a political party, “wishes to assure Nigerians and friends of Nigeria all over the world that the power of the people is greater than the people in power adding that “these too shall pass and we shall overcome.”