11th February, 2015
The role President Goodluck Jonathan is now playing through his proxies in Nigeria’s electoral process may soon earn him the ignoble sobriquet The New Maradona. This nickname was coined for fromer military dictator, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who started a convoluted, seemingly endless political transition programme that resulted in the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Babangida deliberately deployed all kinds of obstacles to scuttle the transition from military to civil rule in order to prolong his stay in power. He shifted the hand over date several times and ended up spending eight years in the saddle before he was forced to quit by a grounswell of opposition and massive nationwide protests by students, pro-democracy activists and labour unions.
Like Babangida, Jonathan has resorted to the use of sinister schemes to undermine the nation’s democracy. The shifting of the general elections a few days before they were to take place was the worst thing any ruler who claims to have democratic credentials could do. No one is even sure if elections would still take place on the new dates, 28 March and 11 April this year as Jonathan wants to cling to power at all costs. In his desire to win a second term, Jonathan is creating chaos, fear and confusion just like Babangida did over two decades ago. The president is destroying virtually all institutions that should serve as democracy bulwarks.
He has politicised the military to the extent that the military had to be used to instigate the postponement of the general elections slated for February. Besides, the latest revelations about the role of the military in the alleged rigging of last year’s Ekiti State governorship election in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate, Ayo Fayose, leaves much to be desired and points to the dangerous dimension the military has been politicised. The military that has insurgency to grapple with are now being dragged into politics, thus abandoning their primary responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of our country.
The same military that said they do not have enough personnel to provide security during elections have now deployed some personnel to the Ikoyi, Lagos residence of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Imo State Government House where the governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha resides. Is it to intimidate them or to do what? So, the six weeks postponement of the elections is to enable the PDP have enough time to militarise the polity and browbeat everybody to submission? This misguided action is dangerous for our nation’s democracy.
Jonathan is also using the judiciary to undermine the nation’s democracy. Just like Babangida used the Association for Better Nigeria, ABN, formed by Arthur Nzeribe, in his attempt to scuttle the June 12, 1993 presidential election, this government is instituting all kinds of litigations by proxy to prevent the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, General Muhammadu Buhari, from contesting. ABN worked in cahoots with the military junta in 1993 to obtain an injunction by an Abuja high court judge, Justice Bassey Ikpeme, at night to stop the June 12, 1993 poll about 48 hours to the election. When this failed, the election itself was annulled by Babangida.
Despite the fact that Buhari has the requisite educational qualification as required by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, to contest the election, PDP has gone to court to challenge his eligibility in order to disqualify him on flimsy grounds. It is worrisome that agents of the federal government in Abuja are sending anti-democratic forces to the courts under different names and guise to compel INEC to disqualify Buhari. These people have not learnt from history so they become history themselves.
Jonathan’s Godfather, who did not lift a finger for him when Jonathan was going to be prevented from stepping into the shoes of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, has also been conscripted to engage in a proxy war with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who he wants to be sacked on the eve of general elections How could a so-called elderstatesman call for the sack of Jega at this time without compromising the entire electoral process and plunging the country into chaos?
Nigeria has never been so polarised along religious and ethnic lines than it is today owing to Jonathan’s ambition to win a second term. He has visited virtually every church that has large congregation to solicit for votes. Now there is a schism within christendom and there are allegations that some pastors have been heavily bribed to work for Jonathan’s re-election. The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, led by Ayo Oritsejafor, Jonathan’s ally, has also been compromised. CAN, which is campaigning for Jonathan is sending hate text messages against the APC presidential candidate.
Jonathan’s minders must tell him that the way he is going about his re-election bid may destabilise this country. His action and the activities of his aides and loyalists rather than shore up his image and win him supporters, are fuelling fear, hatred, anger and tension across the country. These war mongers must all retrace their steps to prevent this country from disintegration.