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As US, UK Seek Peaceful Polls

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CHIBUZO UKAIBE, writes on the recent intervention by the United States and the United Kingdom ahead of the general election.

The intrigues heralding next month’s general election, according to pundits, might not be unexpected because the polls was always going to be intensely contested.

With the two leading parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) evenly balance in terms of geo-political spread, and their candidates are almost evenly matched, the election was primed to be a tough race.

But the quest for a free, fair, credible, transparent and violent free election has remained the bone of contention. Recent interventions by critical stakeholders have been insightful.

Before the religious community via the interfaith dialogue appealed for calm at a recent gathering in Abuja, the National Peace Committee (NPC) had last year, in keeping with it’s mandate, caused for candidates in the presidential race to sign the peace accord, which is a commitment to issue based, non-violent campaigns. While members of the two leading parties, according to watchers of the campaigns, have performed below expectation with regards to issue-based campaigns, security concerns about the election have mounted.

What’s more, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies have been under the spot light.

The opposition PDP has consistently accused the INEC and security agencies of not being neutral, a claim the electoral umpire has debunked repeatedly. However, the warning issued by the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) ahead of the poll has since heightened the intrigues.

Among other measures, the two countries announced visa restrictions on Nigerian politicians or persons who instigate violence, rigging and other election – related offences during the polls. The US, specifically said that it would be on the watch-out for individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during or after the elections. Apart from such individuals, the US said that its consequential actions, such as travel ban, could be extended to their families.

In separate press statements they made available to journalists in Lagos, the two countries, who are Nigeria ’s strong allies in the international community, reiterated their commitment to providing significant support for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). U.S. Specifically said, “The conduct of the upcoming elections in Nigeria is important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent.

“The United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections. The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.

“We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to 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.

“We welcome the signing of peace pledges by Nigerian candidates and their commitment to a peaceful electoral process,” the statement read. The U.K. in it’s statement, said “23 days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections and 37 days to the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, the British High Commission in Abuja would like to reaffirm our strong support for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria.

“We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy. We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity. “We continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections. “We also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm.

“We will be deploying an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the EU’s Election Observation Mission. “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.

“The UK is a friend and partner of Nigeria. We hope our continued support will play a role in helping Nigeria take a further step towards consolidating the progress made since democracy returned in 1999.”

The warning of the two countries came barely days after the federal government raised the alarm over plots by the opposition to cause security threat ahead of the polls. Similarly, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, had also accused the APC government of plots to rig the elections. Expectedly, both the ruling party and the opposition embraced the statement of the UK and US. But it also became a fresh point of counter accusations.

In a statement issued in Ilorin on Friday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the federal government is particularly delighted that the statements came after it alerted the nation to the machinations of some opposition elements who are working to scuttle the 2019 polls through widespread violence. ‘’A few days ago, we alerted the nation to the plot by the opposition to orchestrate widespread violence in the country, using insurgents and criminal elements within and outside the country.

Their plan is to scuttle the election and then push for an interim government, having realized they can’t win a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.

‘’The fact that those statements came after we issued our red alert, which is based on credible intelligence, shows that the international community is closely monitoring events ahead of the election. We urge them to keep a close tab on the desperate opposition, whose language, actions and undisguised threats are antithetical to the conduct of peaceful polls,’’ he said. Alhaji Mohammed said Nigerians and the international community should take seriously the assurance of a credible and violence-free election that has been consistently given by President Muhammadu Buhari, a tried-and-tested democrat and a globally-acclaimed man of integrity.

He said the APC-led Administration is very confident of victory in the forthcoming elections, adding that a party that was not so desperate as to rig election while in opposition had no business rigging election or perpetrating violence now that it is in power and is enjoying massive support from the citizenry.

The Minister called on the international community to keep a close eye on those who are spending more time on a dubious strategy of scuttling the polls than campaigning to win in a free, fair, transparent and peaceful election. ‘’As their campaign flounders and their strategies collapse, they have resorted to seeking power by subterfuge.

That’s why they are doing everything possible to discredit an election that has yet to be held by unleashing their attack dogs on INEC, the police and the entire electoral process. ‘’On our part, we have confidence in the electoral process and the institutions saddled with organizing and securing the election. That’s why we have been busy campaigning vigorously across the country, attracting unprecedented, organic crowds everywhere we go. ‘’The party that has a history of rigging polls is well known to Nigerians.

The party that has a history of using security forces to unleash violence in order to steal the people’s votes is well known to Nigerians. The party that organized an election that was later described as flawed by its own ‘winning’ presidential candidate is well known to Nigerians.

That party is not the All Progressives Congress (APC),’’ he said. The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), comprising 61 parties, while also hailing the decision of US and UK, pointed its finger in the direction of the ruling party.

The spokesman of CUPP, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said “We the opposition parties are in full support of this decision by UK and USA. The true gatekeepers of democracy.” He added, “This statement from the UK and US couldn’t have come at a better time. We have on several occasions reiterated the need for this visa ban on the perpetrators of election violence and we are glad that finally it’s going to happen.

“For the past few months, Buhari and his APC led administration have tried to create so many pre-election crisis by spreading fake news about the opposition in other to instill hate and unbelief in the minds of innocent citizens.

“From their Rally of blood in Lagos which they sent goons to attack citizens, to the arrest of innocent activists, opposition politicians, journalists, to the recent baseless lie by minister of Information and culture, Lai Mohammed that the opposition is plotting to arm bandit’s and Boko Haram to disrupt 2019 elections. “All these are few of the many election triggers, done intentionally by the APC to create pre-election crisis, and we will unveil the culprits on Monday. “We urge the UK and USA to leave no stone unturned while implementing this democratic and necessary decision,” he said.

The national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus said that the position of the two nations is a huge boost for the sustaintance of democracy in Nigeria given the rigging body language being displayed by the ruling APC, ahead of the general election. He however charged them to go further in their threat and “order sanctions against this government because the rigging has already started with the brazen attempt to force out the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen and instal a ‘friendly and amenable’ person that would help them manipulate the electoral process.”

Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday on the issue, head of Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Samson Itodo, said “I think the call by the UK and US is welcomed call and an indictment on our politicians or ruling elite. Our politicians make mockery of democratic process and subvert the will of the people hence this call from the international community. “ If only our politicians will play the game by rules, refrain from speeches or attempts to compromise the process then our international partners won’t be making those kind of calls.

“It is diplomatically appropriate to remind your partners of their agreements and commitments to international norms and standards.” Former presidential aide Chief Olukayode Akindele, told LEADERSHIP Sunday thus:

“For me it is a welcome development. Many of the actors in this game of political shame hide behind one finger! I recall that the one crucial element that hastened the end to military rule in Nigeria was when UK, US and some of the EU countries started refusing military leaders, spouses and families visas.

Infact their children in schools and universities in their countries had their study visas cancelled and were being deported! “It worked like magic because the greedy Nigerian leaders and their families must spend their holidays in Europe and/or America otherwise they feel like nobody.

They treat their colds and catarrhs abroad and their wives must personally shop for the latest fashion abroad. “In a global world, there is no hiding place for such political miscreants. Most important is that these cabals who are the hard nuts behind these political terrorism believe that they are faceless, knowing that even if the current president falls, they can quickly realign with who ever comes to power and carry on their mischiefs (with their war chests they have stacked away).

“Corruption is not just those openly stealing the treasures of our commonwealth but these ill advisers behind the scene, encouraging and devicing unthinkable abuses, institutional mismanagement and out right denial of human rights to our people. These men and women must not be allowed to ruin Nigeria and slip out to UK and US to enjoy the peace and good governance they have denied Nigerians. They must be identified and castigated here in Nigeria,” he said.

https://leadership.ng/2019/01/27/as-us-uk-seek-peaceful-polls/


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13 Comments Nigeria News
Olite1996• 7 months ago
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AR-RIDOH• 7 months ago
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