© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
2015 Election: Group Warns Against Foreign Interference
A civil society group, Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness, CISA, has cautioned Nigerians on the need to be wary of the antics of some hostile foreign powers currently masquerading as friends on the issue of 2015 general elections.
The group gave the warning at a press conference convened by another group, I-Nigerian Initiative, in Abuja while reacting to international response to the postponement of the general elections in Nigeria.
Expressing disappointment at the postponement of the polls after much mobilization by its members and political parties, the group observed, however, that “the six weeks is not six months, more so we have received continuous assurances from both the NSA and President Jonathan that the May 29 date for inauguration of a new Government is sacrosanct.”
The national coordinator of the group, Chidi Omeje, affirmed his confidence in the motives of the National Security Adviser, NSA, and the defence chiefs concerning the issue, stating that “we believe, without equivocation, that the intervention and position of the National Security Adviser and the relevant security agencies on this issue was guided by altruism and the larger interest of the nation and not in any way for partisan considerations”.
Cautioning Nigerians to be wary of insincere advice from those who had predicted the disintegration of the country, he drew attention to the fact that when the federal government approached certain western powers to purchase necessary armaments needed for fighting the Boko Haram insurgents, the nations had bluntly refused and that they had even gone further to “veto decisions by other friendly countries to sell weapons to us, citing some vague claims of human right abuse by our troops”.
Omeje said that the decision was “to frustrate our efforts and to denigrate our sovereignty” while insisting that patriotic Nigerians must never be silent in the face of supremacist interference in the nation’s affairs by the “Western interlopers who turned in time of great distress but are now quick to grandstand and pontificate over our election dates.”
He noted that the present momentum in the counter-terrorist operation spearheaded by a reinvigorated Multi National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, involving Nigerian military and her counterparts from Chad, Cameroun and Niger Republic was yielding positive results.
“It was based on this imperative that the military is of the opinion that providing full support to the electoral process at the moment will greatly affect the terms, spirit and tempo of the new collaboration. The belief is that between now and the coming weeks will be very crucial in the renewed fight against terror by the reinvigorated Multi National Joint Task Force which Nigeria is coordinating and that any distraction or diversion at this critical moment will be counter-productive as we move to reverse the situation in the northeast,” Omeje said.
Speaking further on rumours of collusion between the military and politicians, Omeje stated that contrary to insinuations being bandied about on social network platforms and in the traditional media by some politicians, the position of the military is definitely in the larger interest of the national security and not for any political expediency or ulterior consideration.
“We therefore advise fellow Nigerians to insulate the military from partisan politics and rather have confidence in its neutrality and sense of patriotism.”
The CISA coordinator, who also spoke on INEC’s readiness to conduct elections, observed that with Nigerians anticipating an election that will not only be free and fair but which must also be credible, it would be counter-productive to conduct the said elections in a situation whereby close to 30 per cent of potential voters had not collected their permanent voters’ cards, PVCs.
“INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega was also quoted to have admitted that if given more time, the commission would do a better job; this is in recognition or admission of apparent non-readiness of the commission, he noted.
Omeje also observed that “Card readers were still being imported while ad-hoc staff were yet to be trained for an election that was just seven days away” and queried, “Will it not have been a monumental embarrassment for INEC if it had gone ahead to conduct the elections with such level of preparation?”
He also expressed appreciation to the Nigerian armed forces which he said, apart from its primary constitutional role of defending the country from external aggression and internal insurrection also shouldered the responsibility of providing support in aid of civil authority in times of national security emergencies such as providing complementary security arrangement to protect the electoral process.