By Josef Omorotionmwan
AS soon as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, issued what it called the time-table for the 2015 general elections, there were, expectedly, general outbursts about some items on the programme.
The opposition parties cried blood on the ordering of the elections in which the presidential election was placed first, with the attendant band-wagon effect accruable from such.
While the opposition parties were yet repining and licking their INEC-inflicted wounds, President Goodluck Jonathan and his co-travellers had hit the road running. They had embarked on the first leg of their planned serial violations.
Whereas Section 99 of the Electoral Act, 2010, provides: “The period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and shall end 24 hours prior to that day”, they had beaten the gun by kick-starting their campaigns almost one year ahead of schedule!
By INEC’s time-table, the presidential election is slated for February 14, 2015, which means that the campaign can only start on November 16, 2014 and end at midnight on February 12, 2015; apparently not for the PDP, which is presumably above the law.
For all we know, when the king carries the stick, the palace attendants need not be told what to do. The credibility of the 2015 elections is already in doubt, being borne out of illegal campaigns. Standards are already compromised — PDP is beating the gun while the electoral umpires and security agents look the other way.
Who is today still remembering anything about the timing of the presidential election? They have long shifted our attention away from there. Very soon, we might hear that PDP is printing the ballot papers at Ajegunle. We will then forget the old issue and migrate to the new zone. That is their plan to constructively engage us until the elections will come and go.
Elsewhere, nations are known to have gone to war because of the killing of a single citizen but here, human life is not worth a kobo! On Monday, April 14, 2014, a generation of human souls was destroyed at the Abuja multiple bomb blasts. A few hours later, precisely around midnight leading to Tuesday, April 15, 2014, criminal elements broke into Government Girls’ College, Chibok, Borno State and abducted another generation of innocent little girls.
At dawn on that same Tuesday, April 15, 2014, our President proceeded to Kano where he was later shown on television, dancing political azonto at an illegal campaign gathering, apparently unperturbed by the earlier mishaps. What a cruel irony; and the very height of insensitivity!
On December 14, 2012, towards the peak of President Barack Obama’s campaigns for the last presidential election, there was the incident of shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, which resulted in the death of 27 people, including 18 children.
Obama quickly cancelled all his political engagements for the day and proceeded to make a nation-wide broadcast to Americans. We find no space too big to devote to the action of such a noble leader. Accordingly, the text of Obama’s address is reproduced here:
“… I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director, Muellor. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, and counsel their families.
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. Each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.
The majority of those who died today were children – beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years. They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
“So our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.
“Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain.
“As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
“This evening, Michelle and I will do what I hope every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter, and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight, and they need all of us right now.
In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans, and I will do everything in my power as president to help, because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need, to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories, but also in ours…”.
There are groups in Nigeria that feel permanently alienated; more so by the insensitivity of their leaders; and when such leaders brazenly break the law, the future becomes bleak and dismal. That’s where we are now!