Friday, January 31, 2014

Is "February 14, 2015" According To INEC Realistic?

BY AMBROSE EHIRIM



 The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in one of how it could still not be understood by some, and in what some pundits had applauded as right and appropriate, released its time table, the schedule for the 2015 general elections on Friday, January 24, 2014. The release had slated February 14, 2015 for the Presidential and National Assembly elections, which is about a year away from now with no known potential candidates from the multitude of political parties and the alliances we have seen erupt over the months.

Though Egbon Goodluck Jonathan has not made his intentions known yet, that is, if he would continue with his stewardship of the nation's top job, INEC, for some reasons, from its announcement, appeared to have thrown in a ball of confusion to a collective of political parties that had been making series of noises in their clamor to get rid of Egbon Jonathan from Aso Rock. Some of the opposition now blame the Egbon Jonathan-led government to have compelled INEC in that surprising announcement even though we are yet to see any candidate emerge as any party's contender or flag bearer.

Nobody is actually sure what is it in particular they have been saying or their strategy to do things differently the Nigerian electorate should buy. And nobody have seen, of all the political talks and campaigns, their political agenda from around which we on the public square should take a close look at, and determine if there's something to it, convincing us that they have a good plan and we should give them our votes. And nobody have seen a candidate, among the aspirants, that Nigerians should take their word in their allured creed to make life better for a desperate and longing for good governance public, attesting from their word of mouth, looking back to their previous handling of the affairs of state.

And nobody indeed knows, or even sure that a sudden love affair out of the blues among grand and small political parties which sooner than later as we found out, becomes one as in marriage in which the head of household is to be known; and now that INEC has released its mandate, we do hope they crawl out and sincerely tell us who they are and one, why we should be listening to them.  Two, what is it that they have for us? Three, what guarantees that when we give them our votes, that they would not turn around and tell us we can go to hell, and that they have used us, taking advantage of our gullible and vulnerable nature. Four,  that they are now in power, and that we should shut up or they would exercise power on us. Five, that everybody serves his or her turn in Nigeria, and that you have to mount your complaints and pressure to get there, which is the parlance in Nigeria politics.  Six,  that we should begin now to mount our own pressures and complaints to lay the path to our turn and as the list goes on and on, where is the origin of the "turn by turn"?

And I'm getting sick and tired of the chants Nigeria needs new hands. The new hands? And assuming we are giving former dictator and military junta Muhammadu Buhari that said privilege, again, what guarantees that Buhari would not as he did in his era of dictatorship, destroy every aspect of civil liberties?  And how do we know that the extremities of the Sharia laws will not be recalled knowing for the fact that radical Islam is baked in Buhari's genes?

And in what had erupted from the vicious attacks by the Islamic Jihadists, Boko Haram, the last few weeks, and yet to see where Buhari had taken the lead to condemn the act of terrorism for the fact that Buhari himself, a Muslim, should be positioned enough to have appropriate contacts and be able to summon meetings of the Northern elders to seek resolve in what had been a national nightmare for several years now. And as the general election fast approaches even though no candidate is in the books as of the moment, Buhari who wants to rule Nigeria in civilian outfits is yet to get involved to determine his contribution as a northern elder to locate the logistics of Boko Haram and the machinery behind its funding. Why?

But as INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega has been confidently sure that the 2015 elections is guaranteed to be free and fair, and in the chairman's own words, much, much better than the previous ones held, including the past gubernatorial election in Anambra last November, which was turned into a police state on the grounds of enforcing the rules of engagement while unnecessary police checkpoints and roadblocks were mounted all around the state, and oftentimes, harassing innocent citizens going about their businesses, having nothing to do with the conduct of said elections.

Jega's freest and fair elections come February 14, and 28, 2015 respectively, means there would be no complaints of missing ballot boxes, improper polling stations and knock-around guys anywhere within the nation's political landscape to cause all kinds of trouble by way of political thuggery, hoodlums and nihilists hired by politicians to throw in series of disorderliness when the election tally seems not be going their way.

What gives Jega the confidence as corrupt as he is himself, and elections that had been marred by irregularities since the inception of the Fourth Republic that the 2015 general elections was going to be exceptional? What had been the measures taken to correct the ills of election failures within these few months? And talk about the discharge of riot police officers as was the case in Anambra, would that be avoided, too, for civilians to exercise their civil liberties as seen in all organized societies? From where is Jega so confident that the loopholes that attracts bribery and corruption, in addition to election rigging having no end in sight can be stopped in this eleventh hour a time bomb is about to explode?

Maybe, there are some magical formulas Jega's about to unveil that would surprise us, and by the time 2015 is up and about, and eventually free of election malpractices, a record, first of its kind in the nation's history, we would begin believing in magic, that mystical experience of a national transformation begun by Jega.

Jega is so sure even with a volatile northeastern states where the blood thirsty Islamic Jihadists Boko Haram have taken hold on a mass murdering spree, and nothing whatsoever stopped them; not even with Egbon Jonathan's unbecoming tactic of the random reshuffle of his service chiefs. So far, it hasn't worked and Boko Haram and its subsidiaries remains firm keeping up with its motive of the acts of terrorism and an Islamic state while it's funded from the coffers of the government.

Egbon Jonathan's moves to contain Boko Haram so far has not worked which seemed to have frustrated his efforts. Just last week, on mounting the defense ladder as the new chief, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, in Egbon Jonathan's attempt to fish out Boko Haram insurgents, Badeh assured Nigerians that the Boko Haram vicious attacks and campaign for radical Islamism would be over by April before Egbon Jonathan's "Doctrine of Extra-Ordinary Measures" expires. Badeh claimed the war was over; "war was over" as if we have not heard that before.

As it would happen upon Badeh's assurances of Boko Haram terrorist activities to be a thing of the past and a nightmare over with by April, it would not take 72 hours of Badeh's statement that Boko Haram would struck in two different locations -- one at a market in Borno State and the other at a Catholic Church in Adamawa. Dozens of innocent citizens perished in the two separate attacks, and hundreds more wounded.

So, when Jega is guaranteeing a free and fair election in 2015, what exactly does he mean? Does he mean while Boko Haram is keeping its logistics intact, and when and where next to strike around the northeastern landscapes, that a normal election freer than ever would be taking place in those volatile regions?
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