“I urge every citizen, therefore, to go out to vote for their candidates of choice without fear because security shall be provided and your vote shall count.”
IN ordinary times, the above statement by Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, would not be taken seriously because Nigerians have seen a lot of promises effusively made but without result under this administration.
Times appear to have changed. Buhari seems to have cast aside his partisan toga to mount the saddle of a patriotic statesman hungry to salvage aspects of his battered image. Since he signed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill in February 2022 to promote the use of technology and minimise human interference in our electoral processes, Buhari settled down to leaving our democratic system better than he met it in 2015.
This showed even within his All Progressives Congress, APC, where he desisted from interfering in the emergence of his party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, despite having quite a handful of aspirants who were perceived as his close political associates.
In line with his avowal, Buhari has even risked the wrath of some politicians in his reluctance to give them his undue incumbency advantages. His Naira redesign/swap policy being firmly executed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is aimed at giving all contestants a level playing turf to seek the genuine mandate of the electorate. This is highly commendable.
We take his pledge to secure the elections and protect Nigerians very seriously. The manner in which he has committed himself to the success of the Naira policy strongly reassures us that he will keep his word to secure the elections.
Indeed, we can already identify a number of possible flashpoints around the country. These include Lagos where hoodlums have been attacking perceived opponents. It is only in Lagos that non-indigenes have been attacked on election days to prevent them from exercising their franchise. The South-East, especially Imo State, is also a place to watch. Simon Ekpa’s threat to disrupt the polls must be met with the full resolve of the Nigerian state. Rivers State is also a potential flashpoint.
Kano and Kaduna must also be closely watched because of the ongoing busybody acts of some disgruntled leaders there. We urge the President to stay home and man his post as Commander-in-Chief. After the elections he can continue his international peregrinations.
We are at a crunch time. Many politicians have shown that they are ready to go to any length to force the rest of us to dance to their political tunes. We must not allow any political stalemate or bloodshed that could threaten our multi-ethnic cohabitation. These elections must be free, fair, credible and peaceful.
Those who threaten our right to vote must pay a heavy price.
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