POINTS FOR CONCERN AND ACTION

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By Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
I am concerned as a democrat who believes that with faithful
and diligent practice of democracy, we can get over most of our
political problems and move steadfastly and surefootedly on the
course of stability, unity of purpose, socio-economic growth and
progress for all.
Democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out by
people who should be impartial and neutral umpires, but who
show no integrity, acting with blatant partiality, duplicity and
imbecility. For all democrats and those carrying out the
process of elections, there must be the redline that must not be
crossed in tactics and practices of democracy.
I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s
integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and
credible election. And if the INEC is willing, will the ruling party
and government allow it? From what we saw and knew about
Osun State gubernatorial election, what was conclusive was
declared inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary. The
unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general
election, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately
contrived, broken or non-working voting machines or card
readers, confusion of voters as to their voting stations,
inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, 2
long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour
the blue-eye political party of INEC because the Commission’s
hands will be tied to enable hatchet men and women to perform
their unwholesome assignment.
The transmission and collation of results are subject to interference, manipulation and meddling. If the INEC’s favourite political party wins with all the above infractions, the result will be conclusively declared and if
not, there will be a ‘rerun’, the result of which is known before it
is carried out. I know that I am not alone in being sceptical
about the integrity of INEC and its ability to act creditably and
above board. But we are open to be convinced otherwise.
The joke about INEC would seem real. The INEC was asked if
the Commission was ready for the election and if it expects the
election to be free, fair and credible. The INEC man is reported
as saying in response, “we are ready with everything including
the results!” God save Nigeria! It is up to Nigerians to ensure
that the redline is not crossed in safeguarding our fledgling
democracy. And if crossed, appropriate action must be taken
not to allow our democracy to be derailed.
A friend of mine who is more credulous and who claims to be
close to the Chair of INEC keeps telling me that INEC will
retrieve its image and reputation by conducting the coming
elections with utmost integrity and impartiality. I am not sure as
I believe more in action than in words and in past record than in
promise. The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid
and all men and women of goodwill and believers in democracy 3
must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their
encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass
that the Commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to
be forearmed. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the
cripple nor catch him unawares. A word is sufficient for the
wise. The labour of Nigerian democracy heroes must not be in
vain. Some men of God would hold President Buhari to his
word on free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. I am a
realist and I reiterate that I go by track record. Therefore, I am
not persuaded by a track record of hollow words, impunity,
insensitivity and ‘I-couldn’t-care-less’ attitude, or by the
sanctimonious claims of any candidate and his campaign staff.
I will only believe what I see. This is a time for vigilance to fight
to safeguard our votes and defend our democracy. The price
of liberty and sustenance of our democracy is eternal vigilance
and appropriate reaction to ward off iniquities. We must all be
ready to pay that price and not relying on hollow words of
callousness. The derailment of Nigerian democracy will be a
monumental disaster comparable to the disaster of the Nigerian
first military coup.
While Nigerians must not allow such a disaster to happen nor
take such an affront lying low, the international community who
played an admirable role in warning INEC, of course, to no
avail on the Osun State gubernatorial election and who have
been warning all political parties must on this occasion give
more serious warning, send more people to the field to observe
and work out punitive measures against INEC and security 3
must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their
encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass
that the Commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to
be forearmed. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the
cripple nor catch him unawares. A word is sufficient for the
wise. The labour of Nigerian democracy heroes must not be in
vain. Some men of God would hold President Buhari to his
word on free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. I am a
realist and I reiterate that I go by track record. Therefore, I am
not persuaded by a track record of hollow words, impunity,
insensitivity and ‘I-couldn’t-care-less’ attitude, or by the
sanctimonious claims of any candidate and his campaign staff.
I will only believe what I see. This is a time for vigilance to fight
to safeguard our votes and defend our democracy. The price
of liberty and sustenance of our democracy is eternal vigilance
and appropriate reaction to ward off iniquities. We must all be
ready to pay that price and not relying on hollow words of
callousness. The derailment of Nigerian democracy will be a
monumental disaster comparable to the disaster of the Nigerian
first military coup.
While Nigerians must not allow such a disaster to happen nor
take such an affront lying low, the international community who
played an admirable role in warning INEC, of course, to no
avail on the Osun State gubernatorial election and who have
been warning all political parties must on this occasion give
more serious warning, send more people to the field to observe
and work out punitive measures against INEC and security 4
officials especially the Police and politicians who stand to gain
from INEC’s misconduct, which is obviously encouraged by the
Executive Arm of Government and who must be held
responsible for the violence that will follow. Such measures can
vary from denial and withdrawal of visas from the people
concerned and from their families to other more stringent
measures including their accounts being frozen and taking
them to International Criminal Court, ICC, if violence emanates
from their action or inaction. Nigeria must not be allowed to slip
off the democratic path nor go into anarchy and ruin. No
individual nor group has monopoly of violence or gangsterism.
And we must not forget that in human interaction, reactions are
normally greater than action, though opposite.
It is no use, at this juncture, to keep lamenting about the failure,
incompetence, divisiveness, nepotism, encouragement and
condonation of corruption by Buhari administration as there is
neither redeeming feature nor personality to salvage the
situation within that hierarchy. You cannot give what you don’t
have. Bode George put it bluntly in his statement of December
3, 2018 when he said:
“The other day, the Vice-President of Nigeria,
Professor Yemi Osinbajo – a learned man, an
enlightened person in all parameters – was seen at
various markets in Lagos State and Abuja distributing
N10,000 each to market women. What an absurdity!
It was indeed an obscene display of executive
recklessness and abuse of office. Pray, where did
the money come from? Was it budgeted for in the
appropriation law? In more civilised nations, Osinbajo 5
would have been impeached and prosecuted for
gutting our collective treasury.”
What an act by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria lawyer, number 2
man in the Executive hierarchy; and what is more, a pastor of
one of the Christian movements led by a revered, respected
and upright church leader, Pastor E. A. Adeboye. Osinbajo
must have gone for, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. A great
pity indeed and which makes people ask the questions, “Any
hope?” Yes, for me, there is hope. Osinbajo has shown the
human weakness and proved the saying that the corruption of
the best is the worst form of corruption. His explanation that it
was their government programme can only be construed to be
very shallow and lopsided, if not an outrightly idiotic
programme.
Traders in rural and sub-urban areas of Nigeria are many more
than those in urban areas and they are much poorer than
traders in Lagos, Abuja and other cities. They need more
attention and greater help. Are they to be confined to the heap
of perpetual poverty? What of those who are not traders?
They are not entitled to hand-out and they can languish in
penury? And what about millions who have lost their jobs in the
last three and a half years? The timing is also suspect. Those
who criticise the action are called evil but they are not evil as
they know what they are doing and saying, and they love
Nigeria and Nigerians not less than the likes of Osinbajo. They
are not devils incarnate; they are patriots.
What is the connection between taking the number of PVC
(Permanent Voters Card) of the recipient of the N10,000 doled
out to ‘traders’ and the forthcoming election? There is
something sinister about it, and Professor Osinbajo, of all
people, should know that. With collusion of the INEC officials
and card readers not made to work, anybody quoting the PVC
number may be allowed to vote as the revised Electoral Bill
was not signed. And if that happens all over the country, it will
be massive rigging indeed. The Chairman of INEC must stand
firm and carry out his duties with competence and unbending
neutrality. Card readers must be used without fail and
accreditation must be completed and number ascertained and
made public before voting commences as was done in 2015.
Amina Zakari has become too controversial a figure to be able
to give assurance of free, fair and credible election for INEC.
President Buhari and her family have declared that there is no
blood relationship but there is relationship through marriage
and that is more than enough for the good lady to step aside.
A judge does not sit in judgement over a case once he or she
becomes a cause for controversy or one side in the case has
strongly objected to the judge. Madam Amina Zakari should, in
honour, stay out and not be seen as a source of contamination
of the election. Otherwise, it will be difficulty to deny the
rumour that she is being assigned to Collation Centre for one
duty only – to write out figures that are not results of the voting
in the field on fake results sheets without water mark or on
genuine results sheets which she will have access to as a
Commissioner. Amina Zakari is not the only Commissioner that
can be in the Collation Centre. Let the INEC Chairman act
boldly and impartially and prove his absolute neutrality and
responsiveness to contribute to make the election peacefully
free, fair and credible. His integrity needs to be transparently
demonstrated.
We should remember that there had been reports of INEC
sponsored rigging in the past, and also with INEC officials
through collation and with officials being put in party
coordinators’ dresses and working for the political party
favoured by INEC and also putting the dresses of other parties
on INEC-favoured parties and police uniforms on INEC�favoured parties to rig all the elections for the favoured party.
Like all of us, INEC knows all these and it should devise means
to make sure they do not happen. But will they? One way will
be to only allow card readers to be means of authenticating
voters and where there is no such authentication, it should
mean no voting. The second is to use only identity cards with
watermarks issued by INEC itself to party officials only for
identification of political party coordinators, officials and agents
and not political parties dresses or arm and wrist bands which
anybody can wear for purposes of identification on election duty
or function. Both the Presidency and the National Assembly
must so far be commended for adequately providing funding as
confirmed by INEC, and therefore funding cannot be an excuse
for poor performance by INEC.
President Buhari and his hatchet men in the coming election
think that the judiciary must be primed in their favour. Hence,
the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu
Onnoghen, has been harassed and prosecuted for non�declaration of his assets without following the Constitution and
the law, just to make him conform or set him aside for a Buhari
man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people
believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in. It
seems to be a ploy to intimidate the judiciary as a whole in
preparation for all election cases that will go before them.
Where and how will all these stop? Typically, with
overwhelming outrage and condemnation, we are told that the
Presidency denied knowledge of the action. But the Vice�President told us that the President knew of the action on
Saturday night for everything that has been prepared for
Monday morning. Haba VP, it doesn’t happen that way.
Nobody should take such measure against any of the four in
hierarchy below the President or any of his ministers without his
knowledge and indeed his approval. But if that can happen to
the Chief Justice of the Federation, the fifth man in the
hierarchy of government, without the knowledge let alone the
approval of the President, then it speaks for the type of
government we have which means the President is not in
charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take
anything for granted. We are all unsafe and insecure under
such an administration. And enough of it! Buhari’s apologists
will not stop at anything to try to cover up his administration’s 9
inadequate performance and character. A constitutional liberal
democracy cannot thrive without an independent and insulated
judiciary from the executive and the legislature. Nigerians must
wake up and stop these acts of wanton desperation tantamount
to mental incapacity to run the affairs of Nigeria wholesomely.
Life and living are anchored on trust. But if I trust you and you
deceive, cheat or disappoint me the first time, it is shame on
you. However, if I allow you to do so the same thing for me the
second time, I do not only have myself to blame, I must be
regarded as a compound fool.
Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will
be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time.
Buba Galadima, who knows Buhari very well as a confidant and
National Secretary of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC,
the Buhari’s party before it joined in forming All Progressives
Congress, APC, has warned us this time around that no matter
what he promises, he cannot change his character and attitude.
He describes him as inflexible, insincere, dubious, intolerant,
never accepts responsibility when things go wrong and
impervious to reason and advice for change. If you cannot
change your mind, you cannot change anything is the assertion
of George Bernard Shaw. Even when figures, facts and
statistics are made clear to Buhari, he keeps repeating what is
untrue, either because he cannot understand or for mischief
purposes and that places him on the level of a pathological liar.
He believes he can get away with impunity and deceit as he 10
seems to have done on many occasions in the past. Buba
Galadima’s position is well complemented by Dr. Auwalu Anwar
on the APC, CPC, TBO and Buhari’s character and attitude in
his yet to be launched book, “Politics As Dashed Hopes in
Nigeria”. It is also a stunning revelation. Anwar clearly pointed
out, “the brazen display of incompetence, insensitivity and
irresponsiveness by delusional party, CPC, leadership at all
levels”. Buhari was the leader of the party. Bola Tinubu’s
statement about Muhammadu Buhari in 2003 is fairly prophetic,
“Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilisation, ethnic bigot
and religious fanatic who, if given the chance, would ensure the
disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would
jeopardise Nigeria’s national unity.”
Junaid Mohammed was eloquent on the issue of nepotism. But
if as we were told that Buhari is nepotic because he does not
trust others, why should others trust him to continue to put their
fate and life in his hand. Trust begets trust. They cannot be
trusted for ‘sensitive’ appointment but they can be sent out to
campaign for his re-election. Who is fooling who?
What is happening under Buhari’s watch can be likened to what
we witnessed under Gen. Sani Abacha in many ways. When
Abacha decided that he must install himself as Nigerian
President by all means and at all costs, he went for broke and
surrounded himself with hatchet men who on his order and in
his interest and at high costs to Nigeria and Nigerians maimed, 11
tortured and killed for Abacha. Buhari has started on the same
path in mad desperation.
From available intelligence, we have heard of how Buhari and
his party are going about his own self-succession project. They
have started recruiting collation officers who are already
awarding results based on their projects to actualise the
perpetuation agenda in which the people will not matter and the
votes will not count. It is the sole reason he has blatantly
refused to sign the revised Electoral Reform Bill into law.
His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with
security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing
results right from the ward to local government, state and
national levels to allot him what will look like a landslide victory
irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have
carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns.
The current plan is to drape the pre-determined results with a
toga of credibility. It is also planned that violence of
unimaginable proportion will be unleashed in high voting
population areas across the country to precipitate re-run
elections and where he will be returned duly elected after
concentration of security officials as it happened in Osun State.
We are monitoring them and we call on all democrats across
the world to keep an eye on the unfolding anti-democratic
agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is the time for
preventive measures to be taken otherwise Nigeria may be 12
presented with a fait accompli with impunity and total disregard
of all pleas.
His scheme bears eloquent testimony to this road similar to
Abacha whom he has praised to high heavens and as an arch�supporter and beneficiary from Abacha, he has seen nothing
wrong done by him. It is clear from all indications that Buhari is
putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha.
Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector,
attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and
recklessly attacked and intimidated the Judiciary to cow them to
submission.
I was a victim of Abacha’s atrocities against Nigeria and
Nigerians – high and low. At the height of Abacha’s
desperation for perpetual power, he did not brook any criticism
because Nigeria was seen as his personal property. You must
go along with him or be destroyed. All institutions for ensuring
security, welfare and well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians
particularly the Police, the Military and the Department of State
Services (DSS) were abused and misused to deal with critics of
Abacha and non-conformists with Abacha.
Today, another Abacha Era is here. The security institutions
are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari
and to derail our fledgling democracy. EFCC, Police and Code
of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with
those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those
who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results.
Criticism, choice and being different are inherent trade mark of
democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and
authoritarianism will automatically follow.
Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do
what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques
prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians. I was a
beneficiary and my life was saved. Well-meaning Nigerians
took appropriate actions and made sacrifices, some supreme,
some less than supreme but God had the final say and He took
the ultimate action.
God of Nigeria is a living God and a prayer-answering God.
Nigerians must cry out to God to deliver Nigeria. Here again, I
have been threatened with arrest and extermination but I will
not succumb to intimidation or threats. Maybe I should remind
those who are using probe as a threat that I have been probed
four times by EFCC, ICPC, House of Representatives and the
Senate and Buhari has access to reports of these probes. But I
have also challenged Buhari and the criminals around him to
set up a probe on the same allegations and I will face such
probe in public. But I know that these criminals cannot
withstand a Police inquiry let alone clinical probe on the past
public offices they held. My fervent prayer is that President
Buhari may live to see the will and purpose of God for Nigeria.
My final appeal to him is to desist from evil with manipulation
and desperation because evil has repercussion especially as
man who should watch and be mindful of his self-acclaimed
and packaged integrity. At the end of the day, those who goad
you on will leave you in the lurch. You will be left alone, naked
and unheralded. In defeat, which must be Buhari’s fear leading
to desperation, he and his co-travellers can still maintain
modicum of decency, and exhibit fear of God in their actions.
We have been told that governance has been abdicated to a
cabal. Now, campaigning has been abdicated to ‘jagaban’.
And it is being authoritatively stated that he would not join any
presidential debate. Nigerians will not allow the elections to be
abdicated to INEC and Police to give us false and manipulated
results. I personally commend the President for yielding to
popular outcry to let the former Inspector-General of Police,
Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, go when he is due as he had the track
record and history of being assigned to rig elections for the
incumbent. It was alleged that he was sent to Kano for that
purpose in 2015. He was already deploying his Commissioners
of Police on similar mission before his exit. We must all
encourage the new Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed
Adamu, to tread the path of professionalism, even-handedness,
respect and new image for the Police.
While Nigeria must appreciate Buhari for the little he has done
and allow him to depart for home in peace if he allows free, fair,
peaceful and credible elections, we must also tell ourselves that
Nigeria deserves better at this point in time than what Buhari is
capable of offering. History will note that he has been there.
Nigeria now needs a man with better physical and mental
soundness, with an active mind and intellect.
Let me say again that Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and
exists for the benefit of all Nigerians and non-Nigerians who
desire to live or do business in and with Nigeria. The attitude of
“it is my turn and I can do what I like” with impunity will not last
because Nigeria is created by God and it will outlive all evil
machinations and designs against the overall interest of
Nigeria.
Before I conclude, let me assert that the security situation has
deteriorated with kidnapping everywhere and Boko Haram
more in action and nobody should deceive Nigerians about this.
With the teaming up of Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West
Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram is stronger today
militarily than they have ever been. Boko Haram has also been
empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of
ransom of millions of dollars which each administration
disingenuously always denies. With ISIS being liquidated in
Iraq and Syria, Africa is now their port of concentration. Soon,
they may take over Libya which, with substantial resources, is
almost a totally failed state. When that happens, all African
countries North of Congo River will be unsafe with serious
security problems. The struggle must be for all West African,
Central African, North African and most East African States.
Nigeria has to play a vanguard role in this struggle as we have
much to lose. This administration has reached the end of its wit
even in handling all security issues, but particularly Boko
Haram issue, partly due to misuse of security apparatus and
poor equipment, deployment, coordination and cooperation.
Finally, those Nigerians that are being intimidated or threatened
by this Administration must trust in God and stand firm. Tough
times do not last forever, but tough people invariably survive
tough times. This is a tough time for almost all Nigerians in
different respects, but the people’s will shall triumph. All people
who have registered to vote with their PVCs must never allow
anybody or anything to deny or deprive them of the right of
performing their fundamental civic duty of voting and sustaining
democracy. Establishment of democracy and its sustenance is
second to attainment of independence in our political life,
leaving out the victory of the civil war. We shall overcome.

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