2019 Elections Must Be Free, Fair To Avoid Bloodletting – Anike

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Charles Anike

Hon. Charles Anike, National President of Eastern Union (EU), in this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, speaks on the continued killing of Nigerians by the Boko Haram, the military’s plan to stage nationwide ‘Operation Python Dance’ among other issues. Excerpt:

With the continued killings by the Boko Haram, including the Nigerian soldiers, would you say the Federal Government is really winning the war against insurgency?

The war against insurgents and other crimes across the country has been lost completely by the present government. One of the main reasons Nigerians voted for Buhari was to tackle the escalating activities of the insurgents in the North East and its environs. But, we can say that both the Boko Haram and the Fulani killer herdsmen became more daring under Buhari. The reasons are not farfetched. The Buhari government compromised and politicised the security system of the country. Under Buhari, almost all the Boko Haram members arrested during his administration and during President Goodluck Jomathan era were released in the name of swapping them with the abducted Chibok girls. Huge ransom was also paid in cash, which we believe further encouraged, equipped and reinforced the sect to carry out more sophisticated attacks on Nigerians. The terrorists used the monies to acquire more sophisticated weapons. Also, the killer herdsmen were never publicly condemned by the President, neither were they arrested by security agents. Meyetti Allah, which is the umbrella body of the herdsmen recently endorsed President Buhari for 2019 Presidential election, we are also waiting and looking forward for the Boko Haram endorsement of Buhari as well.

The government is rubbing it on our emotions that both the Christians and Muslim festivals that took place last year did not witness any security challenge in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It is not the efforts of the Federal Government that sustained the peace, but the proactive grassroots peace moves of people like Senator Philip Aduda who has been silently soliciting for peaceful coexistence among every community in the six local councils, which has kept the people vigilant.

How do you see the decision of the military to carry out ‘Operation Python Dance’ in every part of the country at the same time?

‘Operation Python Dance’ for what? Are we fighting war in Nigeria? All these are ploys to create panic and tension across the country so that the APC can perfect its rigging plans in the 2019 general elections. This APC-led Federal Government is so confused and has totally run out of ideas on what the future holds for the party and its candidates in the coming elections. That is what happens when someone squanders his or her opportunity and goodwill.

We are waiting for the military and their Operation Python Dance. If they like, let them declare curfew or state of emergency across the country from now. Nigeria will never end with the APC government. In a matter of months, the APC will be history.

How do you see the recent warning given to INEC by Southern and Middle Belt leaders against election rigging?

The warning is timely and necessary. The outcome of Edo, Ekiti and Osun states elections were enough to believe that the present INEC is not independent. This INEC has shown weakness, incompetence and lack of courage to conduct anything near free, fair and credible elections.

The warning was necessary because any attempt to rig the election may result to bloodletting across the country. This is the only INEC that has the President’s relatives and associates at the upper echelon.

What is your take on the alleged plan by President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the tenure of the IGP Idris Abubakar?

That is another problem facing the Buhari government. Recall that Nigerians clamoured for cabinet reshuffle to no avail. That may be because the President was said to have a long list of his friends (both dead and living) who he planned to run the affairs of the country with even before he emerged President. Extending the IGP’s tenure is uncalled for, because, we have a lot of qualified and very experienced officers in the Nigerian Police Force. To retain him will surely truncate the careers of many officers who would ordinarily move up the ladder at his retirement. No matter how good the IGP Idris Abubakar may be, the time is up for him, having contributed his own quota. People should learn to quit the stage when the ovation is loudest.

We have every reason to suspect that the President is trying to extend the IGP’s tenure to use him rig the Presidential election, otherwise he should let him go. After all, Jonathan should have also extended Mohammed Abubakar’s tenure before of 2015 election.

There are several Presidential candidates in the 2019 elections. But the focus seems to be of Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari. Why is this so?

Well most of the Presidential candidates are very qualified and have something to offer. But, to win a presidential election in a country like Nigeria requires a lot of political structures. Most of the candidates are flying the flag of unknown parties. So, why would people waste their votes on them? Recall that Atiku himself at one time contested under such party that had no political structures. Even with all his influence as former vice president and resources, he was not able to establish structures that can earn him even second position. The incumbent President also made several outings through such political parties, and even formed one, but to no avail, until the conglomeration of political parties merged in 2015 and brought him victory.

Those candidates of other parties may not have such huge resources and contacts to set up political structures that can command some attention.

The focus on Buhari is because of incumbency factor and for Atiku, because, he is flying a flag of the most formidable party in Nigeria presently. More so, Atiku’s influence is increasing by the day, while that of Buhari is diminishing by the hours. God has chosen Atiku this time even though it won’t be on platter of gold. APC will soon be history.

With the 2019 elections by the corner, how do you see President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill?

The President’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill did not come to me as a surprise, seeing that the President from every indication, has lost a lot of ground in the politics of Nigeria. The widely acclaimed popularity and support he once enjoyed are now history. The name Buhari has become leprous among Nigerians and only very few would want to identify with him.

His colossal and scandalous failures in every sphere of governance are the reason behind it. No thanks to his unfulfilled campaign promises, lack of respect for the constitution, bare faced nepotism, hypocrisy in the fight against corruption, lack of commitment in the security of lives and property across  the country, incompetence,  insincerity and many  more have combined to rob the President of his much priced popularity and integrity which he enjoyed some years back. The loss of popularity and trust of the people has made the President and his cohorts to rely basically on their Plan B, which is rigging of the 2019 Presidential election. President Buhari is very must aware that in any free and fair election, he will not be successful. So, he cannot be courageous enough to sign the Bill.

As for the National Assembly over riding the President’s veto, the bitter truth is that it is difficult because several lawmakers are playing politics with national issues. Many of the lawmakers are selfish. So, it would be very difficult for the lawmakers to mobilise the required number of its members to override the President’s veto.

How would you explain the booing and jeering of President Muhammadu Buhari by lawmakers during the 2019 budget presentation?

That action of the lawmakers was a confirmation that President Buhari has become very unpopular. In a real civilised democracy, that was enough for the President to resign honourably. But, here, conscience and reasons are thrown to the wind for materials gains. However, the Buhari we knew previously would have been courageous and damned the consequences of the Aso Rock cabals and resign. But, once a leader develops a reprobate heart, nothing means anything to him or her anymore.

However, the action of the lawmakers during the budget presentation should not be seen as an affront on democracy. The reverse would have been the case if they didn’t show their grievances to the whole world, as being done elsewhere.

The insincerity of the President in the running of the country’s affairs since he assumed office in 2015 has reached a level whereby many Nigerians are beginning to wonder if indeed this was the Buhari they voted for. Moreso, as the previous budget never impacted on the generality of Nigerians. Don’t forget that the lawmakers have been receiving reports from their various constituencies.

Source: independent.ng