2015 elections, looming disenfranchisement and security

NIGERIA’S 2015 presidential elections of February 14, which is lovers day all over the world appears too close for comfort given large number of Nigerians that are yet to get voters cards. More worrisome is the desperate attempt of the rulin party to disqualify the opposition candidate on educational qualifications and the reluctance of INEC the electoral authority to consider any hint of a possible postponement because of an apparent disenfranchisement of 50 % – about 30m- of the electorate, because of lack of voters cards. Add to this the unbelievable news report that a coalition of four Northern Civil Society Organisations have dragged the same opposition candidate to the International Court of Justice – ICC – over post election violence in the 2011 elections and you want to wonder why some people are so desperate that the change of government which appears imminent and unchangeable if the February elections hold in a conducive, should not be allowed to happen. Unfortunately such people and their antics or strategy of mischief and digression are like a dog barking at the moon to go away at night. It is a folly and a crass exercise in futility.

They are trying to manage and stop change and experts in Strategic Management should tell them, if they will listen, that Change Management is an oxymoron as change cannot be managed or stopped. You may go along with change if you are wise but you cannot stop it and I am not talking about natural disasters like tsunamis or volcanoes alone. I am talking about the kind of political change imminent in Nigeria this February which has spawned a monster movement aimed at stopping APC candidate retired General Muhammadu Buhari from becoming the next president of Nigeria at all cost. The ‘Stop Buhari from contesting‘ campaign is an odious oddity in our political system created by those who are desperate to keep the incumbent president at his job because their lives depend on his continuing in office after 2015 lovers day and beyond.

Yet, the incumbent is busy campaigning all over the nation and has pitifully lamented that the Boko Haram insurgency has not allowed people to appreciate his numerous achievements and that really is an understatement. As it is also a tautology. What sort of achievements can allow, that under the watch of a president and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces on whose table the buck stops, over 200 Chibok girls have vamoosed into thin air like the Malaysian aircraft that did the same thing last year? The Chibok school girls have not been seen since April last year and no achievements can drive that under the table or earn the achiever responsible for their lives and security any or many accolades or votes in this February election. Inability to find the Chibok girls and the growing capacity of Boko Haram to seize Nigerian towns on Nigeria’s soil and kill thousands of Nigerian with impunity makes a mockery and a misnomer of any achievements of this administration and that can not be wished away by a thousand campaign speeches all over the nation. That is the stark price on the 200 Chibok girls disappearance, and it is the electorate’s payback time at the February elections.

Going back to the issues highlighted at the beginning involving the lack of voters cards for half the electorate, it is pertinent to note the issue was raised by no less a person than our National Security Adviser but in far away London. I listened to the BBC interview when he said he could not see INEC getting the remaining over 30m voters card ready before February 14.

Given that concern he asked for a postponement but as allowed within the constitution. Which sounds responsible and fine by me. But some people are treating this sensible advice like a cancellation. Which is wrong and disruptive. Equally alarming was the reaction of the INC Spokesman that postponement was not on INEC’s agenda. That certainly is unbelievable given the fact that INEC had all along insisted that the Security experts will decide whether elections will hold in the beleaguered North East as INEC is not an expert on such issues. Obviously INEC is short sighted in seeing the security implications of disenfranchising about half the Nigerian electorate and should do a quick rethink before it is too late. Indeed the NSA is trying to save the neck if not the ass of INEC on this although such an important advice should have been given at home to his employers and not on foreign ground. The political parties too should close ranks to prevent a gross disenfranchisement to happen in this election as it will damage the credibility and legitimacy of any such election results sooner than later. Disenfranchisement in any election has always been a recipe for post election violence and that should be carefully avoided by all stakeholders in this election. That again brings up for discussion the matter of the four Civil Liberty organisations that have taken the APC candidate to ICC at the Hague over post election violence in the 2011 elections. Together with those trying to make a mountain out of a molehill on Buhari’s school certificate credentials, timing is the weapon of confusion in both cases. Since 2011, why have these civil liberty organisations not gone to court till now that the retired general is a presidential candidate of a popular party and the 2015 election is less than a month away? Similarly with those raising the school certificate brouhaha one should ask – why now? After all, this same retired general contested in 2007, and 2011 and no such issues were raised. Obviously the APC candidate’s detractors have seen the handwriting on the wall that 2015 is different from earlier elections and is going to be third time lucky for the APC presidential candidate. I certainly share their vision but not their fears as what they are manifesting is crass premonition that this election will be their nemesis as the APC candidate is very well on the way to victory.

I can however offer them some comforting ideas, if they will consider it and that is that they should exercise some patience for the elections to hold, and recall what happened in Kenya at the last presidential elections.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate were distracted like this over post election violence in the last presidential election – 2007/2008 before they were elected into office in 2013. They were charged for post election violence in the 2007 presidential elections although neither contested then for the presidency. They were indeed in opposing camps. They won in spite of this and both have gone to the Hague as sitting President and Vice President of Kenya, and Kenya is moving on marvellously. The APC candidate’s detractors should just take things easy on their hate mongering, as President Muhammadu Buhari will not be the first African president to go to answer spurious charges at the Hague. The February 14 elections will surely see to that. God willing, Insha Allah.

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