The 2015 General Elections initially scheduled to hold on February 14 and 28 respectively has finally been postponed by INEC citing insecurity in the Northeast region of the country, SAYO AKINTOLA Cannot But Ask; Can The Nigerian Military Subdue Boko Haram In Six Weeks?
Give it to the Prof Attairu Jega-led Independent National Electoral Commission INEC; a discerning mind would easily decipher its resolve to conduct a free, fair and credible election this year against all odds. This assertion is further given credence by the clamour for the removal of the highly revered former Othman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto Vice-Chancellor for his seemingly uncompromising stance on the way the elections must be conducted.
Some friends and admirers of the president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led by the Octogenarian Ijaw leader and former federal commissioner of Information in the first republic, Pa Edwin Clark on one hand and Asari-Dokubo/Tompolo-led Niger Delta ex-militants had been in the fore-front of the clamour for the shift in the date of the elections, citing insecurity in some parts of the country. It is an irony to note that Asari-Dokubo till tomorrow believes that the hues and cries over Boko Haram are mere hoax aimed at distracting our dear president from delivering on the mandate generously bestowed on him by over 70 percent of Nigerians of voting age in 2011.
Asari-Dokubo in spite of circumstantial evidence coupled with victuals of the Chibok girls in the insurgents’ camps of Sambiza still holds the belief that no girl was missing in Chibok or any other part of Borno for that matter.
It became more hilarious to note that the uproar for postponement of the election was orchestrated by the ruling party, People’s Democratic Party PDP with very weak motives being adduced for a possible change in the date of the election. The security crisis in the Northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe has been with us for the past six years or so with not too impressive response approach to the crisis.
Many political watchers have come to the conclusion that the pulse of the electorate measured to be not too favourable to PDP at the campaign venues across the country precipitated the need for the ruling party to beat a retreat; to afford the party leaders ample opportunity to re-strategize and explore some identified weak points of the opposition to coast the president home to victory at the polls at a later date.
It reminds one of the university days when some rascals who would never prepare for exams would be the ringleaders of senseless protests few days to the commencement of exams in order to disrupt the semester examinations all because they knew they would fail should they go into the exam hall with such dismal level of preparation.
If the truth must be told; PDP was taken off guards by the opposition’s selection of its flag-bearers for the presidential election. And by the time it realized what dawned on it, the party hierarchy resorted to extreme mudslinging that did not fall on the right cord of undecided voters. The beautiful jobs in terms of achievements of the president that now dot the media through commercials were ignored for frivolities at the initial stage of the campaign.
I stand to be corrected; Boko Haram or no Boko Haram, nobody would have contemplated election date shift if Abubakar Atiku had been the APC Flag bearer. President Jonathan and the PDP leaders would have gone to sleep with the belief that head or tail; PDP would defeat the former Vice-president any day, any time.
Interestingly, the beauty of our democracy is that the electorate is now more enlightened, better informed and more discerning. My fear is the role of the military in the whole saga. As a kid on the streets of Ibadan in the 70s, I, like many other kids, abhorred the sight of military personnel, most especially ‘the Soldiers’. You seldom see them on the street anyway. What would they be looking for when we were not in a state of war? They were well respected, feared and loved.
Today, is the military respected by the same Nigerians they (military) live to protect to live? The incidence of Boko Haram was the last blow that smashed whatever reputation left of the present military hierarchy. In those days, it’s almost impossible for the Chief of General Staff to goof. He must have done his homework before coming out with policy statements. The story is different these days. A chief of general staff can tell you that in six months, Boko Haram would become a thing of the past and three year down the line we are still grabbling with the menace. The bastards even went as far as over-running his family house in Adamawa. What an insult!
Today, the Chief of General Staff with other Service Chiefs would assure some political parties of the military’s preparedness for the then February 14 polls only to recant three days later in a letter jointly signed by all the service chiefs warning the electoral body that they would no longer be in a position to provide security cover for the electoral commission’s personnel to be deployed for the election.
From all indications, there appears a ray of hope for an impending waterloo for Boko Haram in a war by the Nigerian troops and their regional allies with the Nigerien Parliament giving a nod for the country’s military to join Nigeria in flushing out the insurgents from the country. The question on the lips of not a few Nigerians is ‘why now? How come our military had not shown this kind of zeal and enthusiasm to get rid of the blood sucking demons camouflaging as Jihadists. I’m told most of them in the various Boko Haram camps don’t have a copy of the Quran.
I doubt if we would be talking about election postponement today if the Federal Government and the military had done the needful at the most crucial time in the life of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Unfortunately, our amiable president was being fed with wrong information by his aides who all along either did not want him to succeed or placed their selfish interest above the general good of the nation. And lo and behold, before our president could realize what was going on, it was almost too late to salvage the already terribly bad situation.
Since, Boko Haram is not the first of its kind in the history of Nigeria; it most likely may not be the last either. But the instantaneous response of the people at the helm of affairs would determine the extent of havoc the miscreants would be able to inflict on innocent Nigerians.
Incidentally, I had through this medium advocated a shift in the date of the elections less than 48 hours before the military instigated INEC’s decision to postpone the elections. I was scared to see the multitude of prospective voters who had thronged the various INEC offices to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards but to no avail. Many Nigerians had shown strange enthusiasm in the electoral process and were resolved to vote at the polls only to be disappointed by INEC whose shoddy preparations for the elections came to the fore in the area of logistics and PVCs distribution.
Security or no security as an excuse, it would have been suicidal for Prof Attairu Jega to proceed with the elections in view of the dismal level of preparation. It was common knowledge that INEC encountered some problems of logistics in its PVCs distribution process. Without involving the military as an alibi, thereby exposing the military strategy and plans for a regional onslaught against Boko Haram to Shekau and his mad dogs in the evil forest of Sambisa, no sane person would have agreed to the election taking place on February 14. If those eligible voters were denied of PVCs in big cities like Ibadan, Lagos, Yenogua and Kano, one can only conjure what the situation would be like in the riverine parts of the country and most hinterlands where only one commercial bus plies the road once in a week or two.
Unfortunately, our governments over the years have found it fashionable to give flimsy excuses for its actions; excuses that even a six year-old boy would not buy. Nigerians deserve to be treated with respect by their leaders. Nigerians would like to be shown love and sincerity by the leaders. Nigerians had endured difficult situations in the past and would expect government to show sanctity of human dignity by refraining from abusing their collective sensibilities through its actions and inaction.
There are certain lies you dare not tell your kids if you still desire their respect as a parent.
Nigeria no doubt is at a cross-road. Before you know it, it’s six weeks already. One thing is clear. It doesn’t take a decisive military with regional assist to defeat fast wearing out Boko Haram. The greatest test for the Jonathan administration however, is its ability to tame Shekau and bring insurgency in the Northeast to an end within the next six weeks. Anything to the contrary may be too costly for Mr President and the ruling parties at the polls come March 28 or any other date Nigeria may finally decide to decide.