The 2019 general election is just eight months away but the anxiety is mounting quite fast. The apprehension is predicated on the fact that
most of the institutions of government charged with the responsibility to protect the people and their mandate seem to have abdicated their duties leaving the people with little options.
Nigerians fear that the election may not be free and fair because some foreigners are said to have invaded the country to allegedly swell the number of those angling to ensure that their candidate win the Presidential election.
BusinessDay correspondent encountered one of such people brought in from neighboring countries to participate in the election, who gave his name as Idris. On closer interaction in Hausa language, Idris claimed that he and thousands of others were imported into the country by some powerful forces in northern Nigeria to participate in voting.
“An Kawo mu dege Niger mu yi zabe,” he said in Hausa, which in English means “we were brought in from Niger Republic to vote.”
The Nigerian Immigration Service has shown grave failure in blocking the over 4,000 illegal entry points into the country, from where these aliens gain entry into the country as thousands of foreigners are said to be in Nigeria to unleash mayhem if their desired candidate does not win the election.
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye on Friday, May 5, 2018 Holy Ghost service,
expressed doubts about the possibility of the 2019 election holding, following the incessant killings across the country especially in the Middle Belt, many Nigerians echoed their fears in the same line.
The cleric said this while reacting to the herdsmen attack on St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalom Parish, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State, which killed two Catholic priests and 17 parishioners, warning that it could lead to a religious war if not tamed.
Pastor Adeboye said: “I am going to ask you to join me in prayer, because unless these killings stop, and stop immediately, even Nigeria may not live. I am not talking about individuals now, I am talking
about Nigeria itself…A bishop asked me not too long ago, ‘Daddy, has God told you who will win the next election?’ “I said, Sir, I am not even sure yet there will be an election. Because unless these killings stop there may be no elections next year.” ‘Are you prophesying, Daddy?’ “No, no! I am not prophesying. I am just reasoning. Because
nobody will want to go out to vote if they are not sure they will be able to return home safely,” he said.
Even the international community is worried that the election may not go well in Nigeria because of desperation as Nigerians are already polarised along regional, ethnic and religious lines.
BusinessDay had quoted a source from one of the African missions in the country who confirmed that the foreign missions following intelligence reports are apprehensive, due to the behaviour of the
Nigerian politicians especially as they heat up the polity with unguarded and hate-filled utterances. The source added that the pervasive killings allegedly perpetrated by the Fulani herdsmen appear to be another prelude to anarchy.
“We are worried that the Nigerian politicians are in their belligerent dispositions, which depict some threatening situation especially now that there are widespread and unchecked killings across the country by armed gangs who may be recruited to cause mayhem. If the hallowed chamber of the Senate can be invaded by hoodlums who took away its symbol of authority in full glare of security agencies almost unchallenged and up till now the hoodlums have not been uncovered, then the situation is really disturbing,” the source said.
Reacting to the killings across the country, another source from one of the European missions, who preferred anonymity, had also told BusinessDay that his country and many others in Nigeria are worried about the elections following intelligence reports that some foreign mercenaries have allegedly invaded the country to cause mayhem if certain candidates are not elected.
The Nigeria police appear overwhelmed by the sheer viciousness of the killings in states like Benue, Taraba, Zamfara, Plateau, Nassarawa and Kogi. But the most disturbing scenario probably was that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has refused to appear before the Senate, which summoned him over the high level of insecurity in the land. This has attracted severe criticisms.
The main opposition party the Peoples Democratic party condemned the attitude of the IG saying, “His (IGP)’s refusal to honour the invitation is a deliberate assault on Nigeria’s democracy; it is a willful denigration of the National Assembly and a recourse to totalitarianism,” the party said in a statement signed by Kola Ologbondiyan, its National publicity secretary.
Nigerians also express worries that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been battling with the allegation of doing nothing while underage voters are allegedly issued with the Permanent Voters Card across the country, especially in Kano State.
Although INEC has absolved itself of complicity in the Kano underage debacle in the February 10 Kano state local election, Nigerians are yet to recover from the shock of the video of those little boys, seen with the PVCs. This has fueled the fear that a large number of unqualified persons may have been captured in the electoral process, which could greatly undermine its credibility.
The Nigerian army that is dreaded as a majestic force in the continent has unbelievably become constrained in the face of the increasing killings such that former Chief of Army Staff, Theophilus Danjuma, cried out recently that the army is allegedly colluding with the killers serving some sinister motives in the country. Unconfirmed reports said that the attempt to bring in mercenaries is to help destabilise some regions and scuttle their electoral chances.
The opposition politicians have also expressed fear that President Buhari has turned his anti-corruption against perceived enemies of his government and even critics within his own party. Recently the outspoken Senator Dino Melaye has been hounded by the police over allegation of gun running. But observers have attributed his travails to his consistent criticism of the President. Another Senator Matthew Urhroghide was attacked for allegedly raising the unconstitutional issue of Buhari’s payment of $496 million to buy 12 Tucano jets from the US without approval from the National Assembly.
Last Sunday, Timi Frank, erstwhile deputy national publicity secretary of the APC increased the alarm level in a letter he wrote to President Buhari accusing him of perpetrating impunity and spreading fear in the country.
“Under your tenure the rule of law has been replaced with the rule of force. You have injected fear into the society. People who voted for you to save them from corruption and ineptitude have been barred from speaking up against the myriads of evil and wicked acts being perpetrated by officials in your government,” Frank told Buhari.
He further told the President that people freely expressed themselves under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration without fear of being branded cultists’ sponsors, gunrunners or aiding murderers but not so under this administration.
“Under Jonathan, Nigerians enjoyed freedom of speech, association and right to hold dissenting views including organising and partaking in protests against unwelcome government policies. All these are no go areas today. It is a fact that no member of the APC which was then in the opposition before 2015 was jailed or harassed for expressing dissent.
“However, under this administration, the Senate President is being persecuted, Senator Dino Melaye has been arrested and detained like a common criminal, Senator Matthew Urhroghide has been attacked for telling Nigerians that the Federal Government breached the Constitution by paying the sum of $496million for 12 Tucano fighter jets without National Assembly approval; the trial of Senator Isa Misau by the AGF over his face-off with the Inspector General of Police, the persecution of many members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the name of fighting corruption are all examples of intolerance under this administration,” Frank told Buhari.
As the atmosphere of fear allegedly instigated by President Buhari for his own gains pervades the political landscape, Nigerians are perhaps, condemned to an uncertain fate. But being very faithful people, the hapless citizens of the country may as usual invoke that popular prayer of hope, “God will help us.”
Innocent Odoh, Abuja