28th December, 2011
Leading opposition candidate in Nigeria’s last election, General Muhammadu Buhari, has warned about a looming chaos and a possible break down of law and order in the next few days in the country.
The retired general who once ruled Nigeria between January 1984 and August 1985, spoke in Abuja today, after the Supreme Court dismissed his legal challenge to the election of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. He also dismissed the judgement saying it was not based on legal justice, but on politics.
But his comments on the verdict paled into insignificance compared with his red-flagging about the state of the Nigerian nation and the possible consequences if the affairs of state are not mended, urgently.
â€œThe country now has to live with the consequences of the actions of PDP government in collaboration with INEC, police and security services over the last 10 years. A country on the brink of developing into the major continental Power in 1999 is now a fractured society, corruption everywhere, violence everywhere, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness nearly everywhere. While the country is sliding into this chaotic state, PDP governments at the centre and in the states are engaged in massive and mindless plunder of the countryâ€™s resources in total disregard of the suffering masses.
“The country now is in an emergency situation. Law and order can break down at any time. Those in charge of the country should be warned that promises and sweet words are no substitute for practical action.
â€œTo avert the looming chaos in the New Year, immediate steps should be taken to drastically reduce the cost of governance in the three tiers of government.
â€œSalaries and especially allowances should be drastically reduced; security votes should be abolished â€“ not increased as the 2012 Budget has done. Votes for the Armed forces, Police and Security Services should be transparent and accountable; foreign travel and estacodes should be stopped for at least six months other than for the Presidency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and medical emergencies.
â€œGovernment House expenses in all the states should be drastically reduced, foreign travel suspended for a while. The National Assembly should give a lead in reducing their allowances substantially and stopping their foreign travels. These savings should be applied to education, infrastructure and agriculture with emphasis on youth employment through meaningful and practical emergency programmes.
â€œThe public will see through any cosmetic or token gestures and will not tolerate a continuation of status quo. Corruption and plunder are the root causes of unemployment, insecurity, violence and unrest.
â€œIf all hands are on deck to help save our country from imminent collapse we should stabilize. When that happens Nigeria should take a close look at the countryâ€™s structure in a calm and unemotional atmosphere. Hopefully we may come to a better form of government to see Nigeria through the next 50 yearsâ€, Buhari said.
He described the Supreme Court verdict on his challenge of the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 elections this morning as no better than the judgments of the apex court in 2003 and 2007 when he similarly challenged the victory of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP at the court.
The former head of State faulted the verdict of the court that the April 2011 elections was properly conducted, describing it as politically motivated. . â€œAll who witnessed the conduct of the 2011 elections would know that this decision of the Supreme Court is politically motivated and has little judicial contentâ€, said the former Head of State. Buhari who recounted how his efforts upturning the victory of winners in the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections at the Appeal and Supreme Court however described the 2011 polls as the worst in terms of credibility.
This, he said was in spite of the high hopes engendered by the appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega as the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission. â€œWhat happened in this yearâ€™s 2011 elections eclipsed all the other elections in the depth and scope of forgery and rigging. Initially there were high hopes that after 2003 and 2007 a semblance of electoral propriety would be witnessed.
â€œThe new chairman of INEC, Professor Jega, was touted as competent and a man of integrity. He has proved neither. After asking for â€“ and getting â€“ close on #100 billion for the election including biometric data with all ten finger prints to conduct a thorough electoral exercise, he botched it. When our Party CPC demanded forensic material, finger printed ballot papers to prove colossal and widespread multiple voting throughout the country rendering the election invalid in at least 25 out of the 36 states of the federation, INEC refused to provide them in Court, citing national security.
â€œA laughable excuse if ever there was one.
â€œThe national and international monitors having seen their work wasted and ignored this time took the line of least resistance and declared the elections as o.k. Who can blame them? Yet the Justices of the Supreme Court have now seen nothing wrong in this.
To nobodyâ€™s surprise therefore, that spontaneous violence broke out in parts of the country after the announcement of the â€œresultâ€. The Lemu Panel has come up with detailed causes of the riots and given lie to those who wanted to label the riots as my handiwork.
â€œThe facts are that people were deeply angered and deeply provoked at the wanton conduct of the elections: the snatching and stuffing of ballot boxes, violence unleashed on opposition supporters, use of the police and elements of the army to intimidate injure and kill opposition supporters and flagrant change of results after collation such as in Niger, Bauchi and Kaduna states.
â€œMoreover the declaration of 86 per cent â€“ 90 per cent of votes registered and cast in most part of the South-East and South-South states was highly implausible given the general turn-out of 50per cent â€“ 60 per cent in the rest of the country. No election is credible where 100 per cent of votes cast were for one candidate in many constituencies and 90% in some states.
â€œThis is plain fraud. No election can be validated if 100 per cent of those registered all cast their votes in favour of the same candidate. It is for these reasons INEC refused to release the biometric data. The Supreme Court has turned a blind eye and deaf ear to these gross irregularities. That is the theme running through all three elections since 2003.