President Buhari, in an interview concerning the Naira re-design policy in the United Kingdom, after meeting with His Royal Majesty, King Charles III in Buckingham Palace clearly stated that: ‘‘My aim is to make sure that Nigerians believe that we respect them as an administration. So, Nigerians should vote for whoever they like from whichever political party. Nobody will be allowed to mobilize resources and thugs to intimidate people in any constituency. That is what I want to go down in Nigerian history for as a leader.”
This is a government that came to power with the mantra of fighting against corruption without knowing that electoral fraud is the highest corruption because when a politician realizes that power belongs to the people, he will do everything to please the people.
Section 42 of the Nigerian constitution ,as amended ,clearly states that : (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
With the much touted readiness of our law enforcement agents ,I wonder why some eligible voters in some parts of Rivers, Delta ,Lagos states and other parts of the country should be threatened to vote for a particular party and if they were not ready for such a compromise they should leave their polling units . Some eligible voters were even prevented from coming inside their polling units in some places.
This All Progressives Congress-led government has blamed the past administration in virtually all aspects of life except in the election that brought it into power. Although during the 2015 presidential election that ushered in this current regime, there was massive media reportage of under-aged voters and other electoral malpractices going on in some parts of the country, President Jonathan ignored that and conceded victory in line with his political belief of “My political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
I find it annoying when a politician says,’’ we will not vote for a particular candidate.’’ My question is who and constitute that first person pronoun ‘we’? The power belongs to the people and no single individual shall dictate for others. If Mr President who has virtually failed to deliver any of his 2015 campaign promises could just ensure that politicians or their cronies do not intimidate voters or INEC staff in this 2023 general elections, then Nigerians will remember him for that because one thing is to grant a press interview but another thing is to implement it .
Taking a closer look at what this APC government calls anti-corruption fight, one will see that it is a fight for the total annihilation of the opposition parties and for carrying out personal vendetta. When an APC thug threatens eligible voters in a polling unit, the law enforcements will look the other way but when same thing is done by a thug from the opposition party then live bullets will be used. At our level of existence as a country, can we not have a free and fair election where candidates will test their popularities at the polling units without molesting any eligible voter or snatching ballot boxes? If you claim that you are the most popular candidate in an election, why not allow the people decide?
This reminds me of the sagacious words of the late Gani Fawehinmi that the Nigerian law is strong whenever it gets to the weak (the victims of political persecution, opposition parties, and personal vendetta) and weak whenever it gets to the strong (the members of APC and the former members of the opposition parties that have defected to APC). The late Chinua Achebe was both spiritual and clairvoyant when in his book, There Was A Country, he remarked that: “Every Nigerian knows that there should be accountability, that people should be accountable. But if the president the person running the whole show-has all the power and resources of the country in his control, and he is also the one who selects who should be probed or not, clearly we will have an uneven system in which those who are favoured by the emperor have free rein to loot the treasury with reckless abandon while those who are disliked or tell the emperor that he is not wearing any clothes get marched swiftly to the guillotine.”
If the results of the polls are not being manipulated, what is holding INEC from uploading the election results on their portal to prove their non-partisanship and neutrality? Nigerians and international communities are watching. Let law enforcement agents be drafted to the places where polling was cancelled on 25th February 2023 .
Dr Paul John
Port Harcourt, Rivers State
Director of Centre for Medicolegal Research: