* State of affairs threatens Nigeria’s existence not only elections – Okorie
* FG must strengthen security forces or… – Unagha
* Rising insecurity a forerunner to anarchy – Ejiofor
By Clifford Ndujihe
THERE are increasing threats to 2023 general polls and fears that the election may not hold. Reasons: increasing waves of insecurity and climate of violence, agitation for secession by some parts of the country, and insistence by many groups and leaders that the country must be restructured with fiscal and other powers devolved to the federating units before elections could be held.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said yesterday that attacks on its offices could derail the general elections.
Besides, 2023 is the third year of a decade, which usually presents Nigeria with a bouquet of survival-threatening challenges as had been witnessed in the last 70 years.
Since 1953, the country faced major upheavals every other 10 years as observed in 1953 Kano riots, 1963 and 1973 census crises,1983 election crisis and military coup, 1993 June 12 crisis, 2003 political killings, and 2013 political plate tectonics that led to the defeat of an incumbent president for the first time in Nigeria’s electioneering history.
In these separate chats, Chief Chekwas Okorie, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Mike Ejiofor, a former Director of the Department of State Services, DSS; and Alhaji Mumakai-Unagha a lawyer, activist, and 2019 presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC urged the government to take decisive measures to provide security or kiss goodbye to any election in 2023.
State of affairs threatens Nigeria’s existence not only elections – Okorie Former National Chairman of the United Progressives Party, UPP, and now a chieftain of the APC, Chief Chekwas Okorie, feared that the country’s corporate existence is under threat as well.
His words: ‘’The much expected 2023 general election is threatened by widespread insecurity in Nigeria which manifests in the form of terrorism, insurgency, banditry, farmers/herders clashes, militancy, separatist movements etc. Nigeria is far more deeply divided along ethnic than religious lines.
‘’Ethnic consciousness and sentiments are posing existential challenges to Nigeria. The minorities of the Middle-Belt are beginning to coalesce on a common platform for self -determination. The Hausa are beginning to draw a clear line between themselves and the Fulani. The agitation for a Yoruba Republic is again in the front burner with a certain level of international dimension. The Miyetti Allah is drumming claims to the land lordship of Nigeria. The Biafra separatist movement is drawing global attention. The agitation for a Niger Delta Republic has not abated while the Kanuri of the North-East are not left out of the self -determination agenda.
‘’The present state of affairs in Nigeria does not only threaten the 2023 general election but presents imminent danger to the stability and survival of Nigeria as a sovereign nation. There is no genuine Nigerian patriot who will not be worried and indeed scared of the looming catastrophe. There is no doubt that the agents of destabilization are having a field day and are dominating the propaganda space.
‘’What is staring us in the face is a challenge of leadership. In the short run, there is so much the Executive Arm of Government in collaboration with the Legislature can do urgently to douse the tension in the several flashpoints in the country. The matter of restructuring especially along the line of the far-reaching recommendations by the APC Committee headed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai begs urgent attention.
‘’I believe that President Muhammadu Buhari can also deploy his special presidential prerogatives and dispensation to address certain areas of feeling of alienation by critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project. This aspect does not require much elaboration in the belief that he knows what to do. INEC has been up and doing to deepen our democratic culture and ethos to make our future elections more credible and acceptable. I am optimistic that with the right leadership disposition and political will Nigeria may pull through by the special grace of God.’’
Rising insecurity a forerunner to anarchy – Ejiofor
A former Director of the Department of State Services, DSS, Mike Ejiofor, warned that the 2023 polls may not hold on account of the worsening state of insecurity across the country.
Ejiofor, who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily said the current insecurity issue may lead to anarchy and crisis if not tackled now.
“If we don’t get these things right before 2023 elections, if we don’t get the various security challenges in the various geopolitical zones sorted out, I can assure you that there won’t be elections. There will be a crisis in this country, there will be anarchy. We need to sort out this thing before 2023,’’ he said.
Sad that security challenges ‘ve overwhelmed govt – Unagha
On his part, Alhaji Mumakai-Unagha a lawyer, activist, and 2019 presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC, said: ‘’It’s unfortunate that the security challenges in this country have overwhelmed the government. The ordinary man in the street is worried so also I’m worried of the possibility of election in 2023. Nigerians must therefore hold government accountable for the security challenges.
‘’I have been vindicated concerning the difficulties the military is facing. Most of the Boko Haram and herdsmen as well as the bandits are not Nigerians. I went further to state that some of the military personnel are also not Nigerians. The military should conduct a thorough searchlight into itself. I’m afraid of what will happen thereof. I’m foreseeing a protest across the nation that will erupt and trigger off secession move.
There will be violent clashes from North to South, East to West, if the situation is not well managed. The Federal Government should therefore implement the national conference report which recommended the restructuring of the country.
‘’Nigeria is striving on falsehood, deception of one Nigeria that never existed, therefore the unity of Nigeria is negotiable. Who says that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable in the midst of frustration, insecurity we are passing through? When Government is unable to protect and provide security for its citizens, the people have the choice of self-determination, provided within the provision of the law.
‘’When there is good governance the people will not have cause to protest. In the case of Nigeria, the people will continue to protest because of distrust and suspicion based on regional and ethnic sentiments.’’
Asked how Nigeria can overcome the looming challenges ahead of 2023, he said: ‘’To the best of my knowledge, there would be election and the election will be marked with violence. If not well managed, the various agitators will take advantage of the 2023 election if adequate security is not put in place. Therefore, before the 2023 general elections, government should strengthen all the securities apparatus to be able to face the situation. As far as I’m concerned, it is the turn of the South-East to produce the next president the only way to justify the sense of belonging.’’
Nigeria cannot break on pages of newspapers
On the various secession agitations across the country, Alhaji Unagha said: ‘’I don’t know for now, but all I know is that Nigeria cannot break or be broken on the pages of newspapers. We must come together to decide either to break or not which I know may not be possible.
‘’Prior to the 1960 civil war when the Igbo were in their secession move, it was a unanimous resolution by the entire Igbo nation. The Sunday Igboho declaration for Oodua Republic or Yoruba Nation, to me, is as a result of accumulated anger of a section of this country taking other sections for granted especially on the issue of the Fulani herdsmen terrorizing the entire country and the winner-takes-all syndrome of successive governments as well as the present government.
Unity of Nigeria negotiable
‘’To me, those calling for the outright break up should not be blamed or seen as enemy of this nation. It is because of the frustration. I’m of the view that we need each other therefore we can’t go our separate ways. Yes, Armenia, Azerbaijani, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, etc broke away from Russia to have their nations and they are succeeding. To mention but a few, Bangladesh, Pakistan also broke away from India, today they are all developing speedily and economically.
‘’Czechoslovakia with population of 16 million people broke away in 1993, Yugoslavia broke into six countries. So, if a section feels cheated or being treated like second-class citizens in their own country and have decided to go, there is nothing wrong in demanding the review of the unholy marriage.
In Europe, UK granted regional authority to the Irish, Scottish, and West Switzerland. ‘’For how long should we continue deceiving ourselves? Article One of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, stated that “all people have the right of self-determination, by virtue of that right they freely determined their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. So I think those calling for the restructuring of this country or possibly outright break-up mean well for the nation without any prejudices. Nigeria is structurally deformed and defected therefore, it must be restructured.
The language, some persons keep using that the unity of this country is not negotiable, is unacceptable. We must renegotiate the unity of this country, the basis of the existence of Nigeria as a nation. Nigeria as it is, is being foisted on the people. A section or sections of the country is using the destiny of other sections without identifying their areas of potentials both socially and economically.