The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday announced the postponement of the 2015 general elections which had been scheduled to hold on February 14th and 28th. The presidential and national assembly elections will now take place on 28th March 2015 while the gubernatorial and state assembly polls will be held on 11th April 2015.
The postponement was informed by the position of Nigeria’s security agencies who maintain that they could not guarantee the safety of INEC staff in the North East if the elections were not shifted.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is flabbergasted by this postponement. It is unnecessary because countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan which are ravaged by worse security situations have successfully conducted general elections and did not succumb to security threat.
We strongly suspect that the security factor is a mere smokescreen. The real raison d’etre lies in the imminent defeat of the ruling party. Having read between the lines, the ruling party has been running from pillar to post looking for the magic wand. They turned to litigation after the main opposition candidate’s certificate imbroglio failed. The attempt to hoodwink the Council of State also hit the rocks. The military option is the ace.
This postponement is therefore not about security issues. The real casus belli is the urgent desire of the ruling party to buy time. The idea is to keep stalling until a sinister plan matures. This can be gleaned from the understanding that the shift is for six weeks “in the first instance”, a phrase that has surfaced in the controversy. Well, Nigerians are waiting.
MURIC regrets the manner the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria and the ruling party are dragging the military into politics. This portends great danger for democracy. Bastardisation of the military is bound to undermine its professionalism. They appear so desperate that rather than play the role of good sportsmen and true democrats, they are prepared to destroy what they cannot enjoy. Resorting to the use of security agencies after the Council of State had rejected a postponement exposes the low level FG has sunk.
MURIC asserts that the reason cited for the postponement of the Nigerian general elections is weak, baseless and unfounded. It is the Nigerian army that is involved in the war against the insurgents, not the police. Civilized countries do not involve the military in elections. This is strictly a police constituency. This is why the use of soldiers in earlier elections in Ekiti and Osun was roundly condemned by Nigerians.
The whole gamut smacks of hypocrisy. Both FG and the ruling party pretended to oppose the idea of an election shift ab initio even though it was first muted by a top-ranking government official in far away Britain. Yet they were mobilizing for it and they were the first to welcome it when it was eventually announced.
MURIC cautions FG not do anything rash in the interregnum. Nigerians should not be pushed to the wall. We warn against violent reactions by the opposition. We remind security agencies of the need to remain neutral and to play the game according to the rules. We charge all stakeholders to remember that the Nigerian project is not about any individual. It is about our survival as a corporate entity.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)