By Suleiman Umaru
Ahead of the 2023, general elections, those seeking elective office, from the 18 registered political parties by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu led Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, planning to engage the services of political thugs, snatch electoral boxes, to rig the election may have to do a rethink.
This is because Prof. Yakubu, the INEC, National Chairman, with the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari, have blocked all loopholes that may be cashed upon by the desperate Nigeria politicians to rig the elections.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President may have known that the politicians and their thugs who are used to rigging elections since 1999 and now, are still on the scene perfecting their strategies to frustrate the Federal government plan ‘’to ensure a free and fair election in the country’’ that he had signed the 2022, Electoral bill into Law.
The Electoral bill may have given the Electoral umpire the powers to test run the ‘Bimodal Accreditation Voting system, BVAS,in the last Ekiti and Osun , governorship elections, in preparation to use it for the 2023, general elections.
The INEC, helmsman had said that with the BVASA, it will be very difficult for any politician seeking elective office to engage the services of thugs to rig the election as the process is very seamless, stating that all election results would be uploaded to the commission portal for people to have a total view of the result.
Given the feedback from INEC boss on plans to hold the 2023, general elections without any incident , may have given the Nigerian President , the confidence to declare at the second ordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Parliament, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, ‘’to conduct a hitch-free election in Nigeria’’.
In the course of addressing the ECOWAS Parliamentarians, on Monday, November 28, 2022, he was said to have repeatedly said that he will leave ‘’a legacy of free, fair and transparent elections in Nigeria and the entire West African sub-region’’. He was emphatic of his commitment to organize a free, fair and transparent elections and smooth transition from elected government to another to another in 2023.
He noted that despite the threats to peace and security, political instability and the adverse impact of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular COVID 19 and the Russian-Ukraine war, which are the biggest challenges currently facing the region, his Administration will still ensure ‘’the sustenance of democracy and Rule of Law to be the norm in Nigerian and the West African sub-region in general in 2023’’.
As a prelude to ensuring that the Presidential promise of conducting a hitch-free election in the country is kept to the later may have informed why Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, has ordered the distribution of weapons and protective equipment for officers across the country.
Baba, the IGP, was said to have also all Commissioners of Police in the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT ‘’to activate the inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security to engage stakehlders in resolving strategies for mitigating threats to the elections’’.
He was said to have furthered the CPs ‘’to ensure adequate and strategic deployment of officers,gadgets, anti-riot gears, and personal protective equipment for officers and to ensure the safety and security of INEC personnel and electoral materials before, during and after the 2023, general elections to avoid a repeat of the incidents in Lagos, the naton’s Commercial centre and other parts of the country in the pas,t elections.
The items, according to the police spokesperson include non-lethal weapons, such as ectro-shocks, rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas, riot guns, for crowd control and minimize casualty risk in eventual confrontation with party thugs and other subversive elements.
Babaga Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, may have read the handwriting on the wall over the spate of political violence that had had been recorded relating to election activities, that he has thrown his weight on the IGP, to effectively tackle the security threats in the country.
The recent accusation of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party,PDP, by the ruling All Progressive CongresS, APC,to disrupt its rally in the state on Sunday, November 7, 2022 in north Western state of Zamfara, of using party thugs bear eloquent testimony to what will happen in the country’s general elections , between February and March, 2023.
Also, the setting ablaze of the office complex, of INEC, in the south eatern geopolitical region state of Eboyi state, where electoral material and some unclaimed Permanent Voters Card, PVCs, were destroyed , including other movable and immovable items were destroyed gives an insight of what Nigerian should expect in the 2023, general elections.
Eng. Dave Umahi, the state governor, may have been more concerned in shuttling between Abakaleke, the state Capital and PortHarcourt, the Rivers state Capital to woo, Nyenson Wike, his Counterpart and the Leader of the aggrieved five governors in the PDP, opposed to Senator Iyorcia Ayu, the party National Chairman, to support Aswaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the APC, Presidential Candidate.
He had said that that Tinubu, do not need logostics support from the Rivers state governor as he had promised to provide , Peter Obi, a former Anambtra state governor and Flag beaRer of the Labour party , LP, who has promised to move Nigeria from consumption to production to make it a stable economy but Rivers votes.While Eng.
Umahi, and his cohorts, have been concerned in ensuring that Tinubu, is elated the next Nigerian President for continuity of the Buhari economic legacy, Obi had maintained that if elected as the country’s next Pesident, his Administration will’’ focus on Agriculture and production centered growth of food security and export, with more emphasis on exporting finished products instead of commodities and raw materials’’.
Perhaps to ensure that there is a level playing ground for the Presidential Candidates of the 18 political parties, jostling to take over from President Buhari, after the 2023, general elections, the ruling APC, in the 2023, general elections, adequate arming of police men across the country, has become very necessary because of recently happenings in the country where facilities belonging to INEC, have been attacked with fears mounting on the safe conduct of the 2023, general elections.
Olumuyiwa Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police and Force spokesperson, may have alluded to the speech of the IGP, when he said that ‘’political violence, hate speech, threats, political intolerance, and misinformation, which are potential threats to the Presidential and National Assembly elections in February 25, 2022 , as well as the March , governorship and state Assembly elections, would not be tolerated.