THE series of allegations and accusations that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is planning to rig 2019 presidential election to perpetuate itself in power have gripped the nation in the past few months and also caused fears and panic in the nation and the international community. With fears of outrightly losing the election based on its unprecedented failure which has brought untold hardship and groaning upon the populace, the Muhammad Buhari led APC government is allegedly exploring all crooked means to stay in power beyond 2019 against the will of the people who have shown rejection for the failed government. At the root of these allegations are concerns about the future of the nation and fears that the nation could be thrown into turmoil, violence, and anarchy should this be allowed to happen. But Nigerians and international partners are not watching that happen. Nigeria is important to the world.
It is more worrisome that these allegations are coming from credible international organisations and nations and not from the usual sources – the opposition political parties who throw allegations at themselves whenever election approaches. The present situation in the country shows clearly that these are not accusations to be shrugged off as mere talks; they are rife and real. Since losing the interest of the populace and popularity barely a year after assuming office, the Buhari government has gone into overdrive in mapping out and perfecting strategies to win the 2019 presidential election by all means. It is more worrisome that the APC and the Buhari government are not making any pretence about this demonic plan, they are pursuing the agenda shamelessly and with all ruthlessness.
An assessment of recent major plotlines available in public domain will underscore these accusations as true and rife. From manipulating the leadership of INEC by planting known allies of the president to head crucial units that relate to the presidential election, to manning stooges loyal to the president in the security agencies and just recently the caging of the judiciary through the suspension of the CJN, Walter Onnoghen and installation of another northern ally of the president, it is very clear that all plans have been perfected to rig and ensure the rigging sails through without any check by the security or the judiciary through the election petition tribunal. These are dangerous times! Of course in this present age, such plans cannot be in the pipeline without the international community having a knowledge of it. One must commend their intelligence gathering mechanism, they always nip it in the bud.
The US and UK have separately announced that there will be repercussions, including visa restrictions, for perpetrators of election interference and election-related violence in the coming elections. Both countries described the elections as very important to not just Nigeria but also to Africa and said their threat of a sanction against those who attempt to manipulate the electoral process is to ensure that the polls are as free and fair as is expected globally. The United States in its statement said “We and other democratic nations will be paying close attention to the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections. “We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process. Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.” The United Kingdom also means business and it is going all out to protect the nascent Nigeria democracy, it said “Our monitors will, in particular, be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media.
“We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals. These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.”
Now that the mission of the Buhari government is clear, all men of goodwill and true patriots must, as a matter of urgency, rise up for this nation at this period of trial when men of no conscience are hell bent on taking us back to the days of darkness and destroy all democratic institutions before they are finally thrown out of power. Those orchestrating the 2019 rigging plans must be reminded of the days of “wet e” and other political violence across the nation: the nation and perpetrators of evil acts paid dearly for the consequences of election manipulation. It is however sad that innocent souls were lost to the desperation of power drunk rulers who wanted to perpetuate themselves in power against the will of the people. This time may not be different should that happen, the people will revolt, and it may be a violent revolt. We cannot afford to allow a country that was once seen as the leading light in the establishment of democratic process across Africa to be turned to a bastion of anarchy and authoritarianism.
- Adeniyi is a public affairs analyst