Typical of Nigerian situation, the small talks a few days ago about the shifting of the dates for elections in the Nigeria’s march again to the next level of democratic practice have developed into a big national headache, threatening to tear the country apart. National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki set the tone of the fire in far-away London at a think-tank a couple of weeks ago, the fire that is spreading fast and threatening to consume all of us.
And, the curious thing in the unnecessary storm that has been raging on which actually drew the attention of the nation’s present and past leaders at a National Council of State meeting yesterday, is the fact that those who insist on the original dates of February 14 and 28 are coming purely from the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and its sympathizers while those agitating for shift in the dates are coming from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Presidency with their sympathizers in tow.
From the way the dates for election are being canvassed and opposed, it appears that there are more to it than the two sides, especially, the PDP is ready to tell Nigerians.
The call for shift in the dates for elections has been unmindful of the fact that the original dates for the elections were fixed several months ago, with the inputs from, and acceptance of, all the stakeholders, including all the political parties without exception. It is on the basis of the dates that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been working. Indeed, it is on record that INEC had had about four years preparing for these elections, climaxing in the fixing of the dates.
It beats one imagination why, just as the nation is bubbling in high spirit for the elections, some group of people, led by the party that appears to have been in the forefront as regard the practice of democracy for the past 16 years, would suddenly wake up to want to twist the hand of INEC to shift such dates.
Coming to what looks now almost a dead-end; the politicians have placed this country at the precipice, not minding the Independency of the electoral body.
If the Presidency and PDP which have just indicated that they would not be comfortable with the original dates of February 14 and 28 succeed in their stand, what would make them to think that APC and its sympathizers would concede to other dates to which the elections might be shifted?
More importantly and dangerous is the idea that if INEC is accused of not been able to put its act together in the last 48 months, there is practically no magic which it would perform to correct such anomalies even in the next 12 months.
A new dimension was brought into the agitation for shift in the dates for elections when, today, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), led by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor just came up to say that the Christians in the country would not accept any election (conducted on February 14 and 28) that excluded about 20 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the various bomb blasts and other security problems across the country.
What the CAN implied was that about 20 million people that have been displaced are all Christians and that they are not likely to have the opportunity of casting their votes. And who counted them to arrive at 20 million? And that they are all Christians?
The CAN’s lie, just so that it can make a case for election postponement is that there can be no way Nigeria would be having now as much as about 20 million IDPs out of the nation’s total population of about 170 million, in deed, it looks very frightening and self-defeatist to even say that the Goodluck Jonathan government has gone so low as to create a sordid condition that make way for such mouth-watering number of IDPs, which is a big chunk of the nation’s population.
In any case, whoever told CAN that the 20 million IDPs, assuming they are all Christians would all have voted for only one candidate to the exclusion of others? Is CAN saying that all Christians in the country will end up voting for only one candidate to the exclusion of others? This is one dangerous dimension: of religion and telling blatant lies by a religious body, that is being frantically brought into the present quarrel over dates for elections. CAN, in a situation Nigeria has found itself now, is supposed to regulate the thinking process of its members for a better, peaceful and united society. But, it is obvious that it has become more political than the registered political parties!
And, the idea of calling INEC, especially its chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega all sort of names by those who imagined that they are losing the grips of power amounts to setting a very dangerous precedent. Those people are simply implying that if they think they cannot have their way, it is better the country is thrown up in disarray.
Of course, Pastor Oritsejafor remembered however to remind the politicians who would rather throw the country into crisis because they are losing out in the power game. of the fact that they do not mean well for this country.
The position which Nigeria is in now, with the two political giants at diametrically oppose position on the dates for the elections, we may be headed for confusion that could result in what APC has been crying about loud: Interim Government!
Why not, if one remembers that the governor of Akwa Ibo state, Godswill Akpabio vowed, in one of the Presidential campaign platforms a couple of weeks ago that “PDP will never hand over power to APC” and added: “God forbid!”
Our politicians should know that history is gradually recording each move they make. What they do today may look either insignificant or self-satisfying and or group-satisfying, but when the chips are down, they would be held accountable, if not at all times but at some auspicious times, and if not by men, but by God. [myad]