Nigeria: Don’t plunge the country into a post-election crisis

February 21, 2019 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

AFP photo

 

By

Abba Dukawa

 

 

Saturday’s upcoming re-scheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections will be held after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) suspended last week elections by the Commission. The Commission needs to understand that elections without integrity are elections that do not allow citizens a credible, safe and fair means of choosing their leaders and the policies they pursue through a peaceful institutional mechanism.

 

If we remember that the 2015 Peace Deal was the first of its kind in the history of Nigeria’s Presidential democracy, however what is arousing the curiosity of most stakeholders is the involvement of foreign dignitaries in the agreement of the signing process. Opinion has always differed on the permissible extent of such suspension, but whatever the case two leading presidential candidates are being committed to a written agreement to forestall any unforeseen occurrences.

 

President Buhari and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar are committed to the principal and vowed to ensure that they have run issue-based campaigns at national, state and local government levels. In this regard, they pledge to refrain from campaigns that will involve religious incitement, ethnic or tribal profiling, both by ourselves and by all agents acting in our names. It was also meant to make candidates refrain from making or causing to make in our names or that of our party, any public statements, pronouncements, declarations or speeches that have the capacity to incite any form of violence before, during and after the elections.

 

As we have witnessed, the signed Peace Accord Agreement between President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and other candidates is sequel to a similar agreement in the 2015 Presidential election where the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari, then opposition candidate, signed a Peace Accord to respect the outcome of the election.

 

The Peace Accord is meant to stem a post-election crisis, which has most times resulted in huge humanitarian and material costs to the host nations and Committee set to identify those to hold to account, in the event of an outbreak of post-election violence.

 

What the National Peace Committee set to achieve is to make both incumbent and leading opposition candidate respect the outcome of the election as they pledge to refrain from campaigns that will involve religious incitement, ethnic or tribal profiling, both by themselves and by all agents acting in their names. Both parties’ candidates have commited themselves and political parties to the monitoring of the adherence to the accord by a National Peace Committee (NPC) having also drawn the attention of INEC and security agencies to act and be seen to act with impartiality.

 

Former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, who is also chairman of the Committee, said the Committee decided to organize the peace accord signing in order to ensure peaceful conduct of all elections in the country. “Don’t do anything to make a bad situation worse.” Also, former head of state, Yakubu Gowon, who spoke briefly, urged the candidates to tell their supporters to ensure peaceful conduct during the elections so that in future, there may be no need for foreign observers because the right conduct would have been assured.

 

The level of integrity exhibited by candidates, electorate and electoral bodies will determine the credibility of the election. This is an indication that Nigerians’ voices are being heard. Nigerians have developed a high level of interest in the forthcoming election which has heightened tensions in some parts of the country. Considering those who want the status quo to remain will oppose any level of change while Nigeria’s survival as a nation is dependent on how political aspirants conduct themselves before and after the elections.

 

The outcome of any election largely depends on the role of the electoral umpire, the security agencies and to some extent the roles of the electorate. There is the need for INEC and security agencies to be fair to all the parties in the conduct of the election. Anything outside this will cast doubt on the integrity of the poll. Perhaps, it is this fear that the INEC boss and security chiefs must allay before the commencement of the poll. Nigerians should be assured that the election will not be rigged.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should resist any pressure or meddlesomeness from any quarters in the conduct of the election. It must insist in ensuring that the exercise is credible. This is the only way the outcome will be acceptable to all parties, Nigerians and the international community. We have witnessed how desperate politicians making innocent youths become sentimental based on political inclination, religion and ethnicity which the politicians have capitalized on to aggravate the level of tension and we know that for any society to make progress peace is imperative.

 

On the part of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies in the country there is a need for them on adherence to the provisions of the Electoral Act, cautioning them against giving Nigerians the impression that the agencies have separate security arrangements outside of those sanctioned by the commission. There is also a need for securities agencies to provide cover for INEC officials, ad hoc staff and to provide the enabling environment for the process from voting to collation. However, at the polling station, even if the president or governor is there, INEC only recognize the presiding officer of the station as the chief security officer. All security men deployed to the polling unit would be answerable to him or her. The security agents would: Provide security at the polling station to ensure that accreditation, counting and collation of results are done smoothly; Ensure the maintenance of peace in the polling area; Protect electoral officers at all levels of the voting process; Arrest at the instruction of the presiding officer any one accused of impeding the peaceable conduct of the election or who the presiding officer reports as violating the electoral laws.

 

On the part of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress and the former vice-president, leading candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and other candidates all need to respect and accept the outcome of the election in good faith without making any utterances capable of causing a breach of peace. There is a need for the electoral umpire, police and other security agencies to not play into the hands of some politicians and thereby compromise the integrity of the election. All eyes are therefore on INEC, the police and other security agencies to see how they will conduct the poll.

 

 

 

 

Abba Dukawa

A Kano based media practitioner and public commentator for 13 years with many articles published by a number of online mediums and print media. 

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