By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Abuja—Ahead of tomorrow’s Presidential and National Assembly election, Organised Labour yesterday warned security agencies that President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to deal summarily with ballot snatchers or arsonists was not a license to kill, but intended to deter trouble makers.
Organised Labour in a statement titled “Let’s Put National Interest First”, by President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba insisted that the victory or loss of any candidate was not worth the blood of any Nigerian, not even the blood of a chicken.
Labour called on Nigerians to defy all odds to perform their civic duty to vote according to their conscience and beliefs and not according to primordial or sectarian sentiments or emergency seductions, saying: “We at the Nigerian Labour Congress believe that the citizens cannot complain afterward if they do not vote or vote wrongly.”
The statement read in part “The moment of truth has come, and we must of necessity perform our civic duty in fulfillment of our beliefs or in betrayal of them. Our conduct will reveal our true identity, betray our intentions and test our claim to nationhood. We, therefore, challenge you the candidates, politicians, supporters, security personnel and INEC to be of good behavior and ethical standard as well as conduct yourselves with civility, humility, truth and abide by the rule of law.
“We urge you to remember the oft-rehashed phrase, that the victory or loss of any candidate is not worth the blood of any Nigerian, not even the blood of a chicken! We want to remind all of us that nobody’s ambition is worth a square millimeter of the Nigerian territory. We similarly want to inform all and sundry that we cannot hold political offices without peace or country. We appeal to all to note that when we sponsor or stoke violence we cannot predict its course or end. We should, therefore, do all that is necessary to prevent it.
“We urge all Nigerians to note that we are going to the poll and not war, and they should accordingly tone down their rhetoric or blood pressure. In this contest, there must be losers and winners, and we do not need to rig to win or snatch ballot boxes or cause mayhem to be reckoned with. Those things do not project our strength or power but primitivism, primordiality and our weakness.
“We urge INEC to be fair, impartial and just to all parties or contestants. The onus rests on them to conduct free, fair and credible elections and earn the confidence of the electorate. If INEC conduct themselves transparently, there will be very little need to contest their results. Similarly, it behooves on us to respect and accept their results or verdict. We, therefore, urge politicians or candidates while criticizing INEC to be careful so as not to destroy completely their image or credibility.”
Continuing, NLC appealed “to politicians to refrain from frivolous allegations, inflammatory statements or unsubstantiated comments. Similarly, security personnel should be civil but firm and be guided by the rules of engagement, especially the well-worn ground rules of military-civilian relations in tense or anxious moments. Their professionalism, patience and impartial conduct will substantially reflect on the outcome. Mr. President’s comment to deal summarily with ballot snatchers or arsonists is not a license to kill. It is intended to deter trouble makers. We insist on strong institutions for the sustenance of our democracy.’’