FEATURE ARTICLE

Augustine C. OhanweTuesday, September 25, 2012
chyinaho@yahoo.com


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NIGERIAíS 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: RED FLAG AND HEIGHTENED FEAR


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lectoral wind is blowing, signifying that the 2015 Presidential election is around the corner. But Nigeria is at war with itself. It has become a hotbed of insecurity engineered by, but not limited to ethno-religious factors. Homegrown radicalization has further compounded the political temperature of the polity. The shadowy nature of the drivers of the insecurity had made it difficult to promote persuasion over polemics. Simply put, even if the government creates a conducive political space, the vexing paradox is: Who should the government dialogue with? Here lurks the danger. However, the situation might seem difficult but not impossible to subdue.

As the deteriorating security situation continues, concerns will persist about the governmentís ability to deliver a climate that would make some regions less dangerous before the 2015 Presidential election gathers steam. The rising tide of domestic extremism, kidnapping and militancy do pose existential threat to the nation. The factual assertion is that the prevailing violence will hinder large public rally during campaign because of security reason. It will look odd should the situation being discussed about compels candidates to deliver their campaign speeches from their armoured vehicles, surrounded by plenty of security officers, with standby ambulances stationed to take care of worst case scenarios. The journalists covering the campaign will be at risk. One is forced to question how safe will be the entire political rally? In a nutshell, campaign will be constrained by insecurity. The volatile Nigerian environment will limit the mobility of candidates, campaigners and the media.

Having stated the probabilities that will trail the forthcoming political campaign, the next question is: With what prism do we cast a look at the polling booths? The fact remains that threats and perceived insecurity will scare voters, and prevent them from walking or driving to the nearest voting centres. Protecting the number of voters that would venture out will not be possible either. The same pervading fear will prevent international monitoring agencies from witnessing the voting procedures. When many potential voters from certain zones resign from casting their votes, the election will not be all-inclusive. Inadequate or absence of international observers and local journalists will give opportunity for fraud and ghost or proxy voters. The mentioned agencies are seen as neutral bodies whose physical presence will prevent electoral anomalies. They constitute unofficial personnel who would offer testimonials or clean bill of health for the election based on what they witnessed. Their absence from the voting centres due to insecurity would be a huge disservice to the election. Under such climate the counting process will not be transparent.

This perceived situation raises a red flag. It will be difficult for democracy to protect the integrity of the election. There is the possibility that candidates who perceive themselves as not likely to win, would be those who will ferment disorder in their local areas and even beyond in order to derail the chances of the stronger candidates. And one single attack at one polling booth or assassination of a candidate will definitely affect other polling booths negatively and confine potential voters to their houses or to their places of hobby. Based on the perceived threats, it will not be a wise decision to recruit and deploy female Youth Corpers as electoral staff, particularly in polling stations, unless there would be heavy deployment of soldiers and the police.

While fear, threats and rumours of violence will pervade the ether and prevent millions from coming out to participate in the election, some political actors will undoubtedly take advantage of the insecurity and benefit from it. Such actors are mostly behind-the-scene cool operators. They are the remote controllers, who teleguide their proxies in the execution of mayhem. But such political harvest has its demerits and dangerous consequences.

A question that begs for an answer is: If insecurity and violence shapes the outcome of the 2015 Presidential election, and the result is deemed illegitimate and unacceptable, what will become the fate of the nation? This is a question we will not attempt to gloss over, or issue to be swept under the carpet..

No matter how pessimistic one views this analysis, it is neither emotional nor thoughts erected on a perverse political arithmetic. It is not unmerited or offensive analysis. The fears expressed here are healthy ones and those political candidates engaged in party power tussles, and vying for positions in the forthcoming election are cognizant of the facts I have laid bare. I am pretty sure most of them feel jittery and security conscious. It would be illogical and even dangerous to pretend not to have observed the glaring realities on the ground staring at us. And it will be naive not to promote it as a front burner issue on our nationís political agenda.

Count me out from the club of those soliciting. for the invitation of foreign intelligence agency to handle our internal security. I find it humiliating. We are a sovereign state, and where sovereignty still exists, he who is entrusted with authority must take the mantle of a shepherd. Nigeria could cooperate with external agencies on matters bordering on global or regional terrorism or bilateral treaties that are mutually beneficial. But matters of domestic security falls within the administrative purview of the government. It is the duty of the government to provide security and protection to its citizens. Our policy makers, the military, the police must show that we have the capability as well as the political will to deliver security before the approaching presidential election. Being a regional power, other African states and international community are watching how the nationís forthcoming Presidential election will be conducted. It must be stated that the more successful and stable Nigeriaís election becomes, the more it will have the audacity to encourage other African states, particularly, those in the ECOWAS zone to toe the path of meaningful democratic reforms.

One cardinal lesson worth noting is that Nigeria cannot bear the political trauma of being listed as one of the failed states. Such a tag drives foreign investors away, hence they would categorise the nation as an economic purgatory. Logical analysis of implications and consequences makes it imperative that the cloudy horizon that defines the road to 2015 election must be cleared.

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