By Oke Epia,
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The insensitivity of Nigeriaâ€™s predatory political class seems to know no bounds. As the 2019 elections inch nearer, some actors are already ever losing sense of decency and throwing scruples to the wind in the race for relevance, power and political office. It is along this line that disturbing incidences of sycophancy, hypocrisy, and other such characteristics unbecoming of sane adults are exhibited with reckless abandon. The desperation by members of this class to outdo each other in the display of these despicable traits is a sure prelude to a possible compromise of the electioneering process.
Nothing exemplifies this more than the currently trending video of under-aged voters captured vigorously thumb-printing ballots in the just concluded council elections in Kano State. The controversial images which have put the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the defensive flooded the social media just at the same time the Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, boasted that he would gift five million votes to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential elections that the incumbent is yet to declare interest in. Speaking at the swearing-in of the newly elected chairmen and 484 councillors, Ganduje said the â€˜landslideâ€™ victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the polls was an eloquent message that Kano is locked down for the ruling party. He was quoted thus: â€œThe overall number of votes scored by the APC candidates is more than what President Buhari scored in 2015 general election, that is to say that if eventually he agreed to contest 2019 general election, I assure you, we will give him five million votes.â€
Recall that in the 2015 presidential election, Buhari got 1.9 million votes from the state under the supervision of then governor, Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, who is now in a bitter political conflict with his successor. Whilst those 1.9million votes have remained a stain on President Buhariâ€™s victory in 2015, given that under-aged voting and ballot-stuffing were alleged to have occurred, the new enforcer in Kano has announced gleefully to take the notch higher. Gandujeâ€™s indecorous boast, which coincides with the offensive images of child-voting and other electoral malfeasance in last weekâ€™s council polls, reinforce the need to critically interrogate the 2015 votes from Kano. But importantly, it is raises the alarm about a possible electoral heist in 2019. Especially given that INEC is now running from pillar to post trying very hard to extricate itself from the very shameful revelations. â€œAs far as the Commission can ascertain, they (images) relate to a local government election conducted at the weekend, and over which we have no legal control or responsibility whatsoever,â€ a statement by Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, Director, Voter Education & Publicity of INEC quipped. If this incidence is not comprehensively investigated and concrete steps (including remedial and proactive) taken to reassure Nigerians of the integrity of the electoral process ahead of 2019, then the country can as well kiss bye-bye to a free, fair and credible general election. And that would of course, be tantamount to the triumph of the rabidly selfish interests of political buccaneers over and above those of the suffering masses. The sad part is that the impending macabre dance in Kano will likely be replicated in different parts of the country where various masterminds and enforcers are already mobilizing to seize the advantage ahead of pollâ€™s day. In any case, it is hard to tell if any of the actors now strutting the stage and engaging in various political maneuverings actually have the interest of the people at heart in spite of the professions of their mouth.
When Asiwaju Bola Tinubu says to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to join the retireesâ€™ club and desist from distracting President Buhari with well-deserved criticisms, it is not because the former governor of Lagos State and enforcer of South-west politics, is keen on the best interest of Nigerians. Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, emerged from a meeting with President Buhari during the week and told journalists that the two ex-Heads of State should not have criticized the incumbent in the manner they did recently. â€œWe should let our former presidents join retireesâ€™ club and take pensions, but they can participate in our politics if they are interested,â€ he said, adding: â€œIt is a free world, but this freedom is not served a la carte, but they should allow us to move our country forward. It is a challenge to every Nigerian.â€ One wonders if it is the same Tinubu who praised Obasanjo to high heavens when he led a delegation to Ota farm to bestow on him the title of â€˜navigatorâ€™ of the APC in the build-up to the 2019 polls. By Tinubuâ€™s double standards, Obasanjoâ€™s bashing of then President Goodluck Jonathan was a patriotic duty but now that the tide has turned against Buhari, the ex-president is now a distraction to democracy. Basking in the delight of his new appointment as reconciler-in-chief of a fractious APC, the Lion of Boudillon, told the world that the ruling party would emerge victorious in 2019. Hear him: â€œWe have a better chance and we are strongly determined to prosecute election in a most transparent and democratic manner and we will win.â€ The tone of finality in Tinubuâ€™s confidence boast is another demonstration of the insensitivity of a political class that has held Nigeria in the jugulars for decades. The Nigerian people hardly matter. This is why in spite of the blood-letting and violence by herdsmen, kidnappers, militants and highway robbers in parts of the country, what would matter to politicians now is how to win the next elections. Nobody wants to speak truth to power; most actors want to be politically correct by hiding the stark reality from the President as far as the various ills and hardships plaguing Nigerians are concerned.
This is why a politician like Shehu Sani stands out among the lot. The Senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district in the National Assembly, in a recent lamentation appealed to people with â€œprivilegedâ€ access to visit Aso Villa to remind the President of the alarming rise of insecurity in the country. Sen. Sani said this recently when he brought the issue of another round of killings in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of his State to the attention of the Senate. Hear him: â€œI think we have lost the essence of our being in government. Every day, this country is becoming a theatre of war. You see bodies of victims killed, dismembered and shared on social media. There is nowhere in Africa today where you see these ghastly pictures and images being shared every day. I am deeply concerned that the essence to which we should be in government and address those very important issues has not been given the required attention as they should be.â€ He called upon â€œall men of good will in this country to rise up because we are living in self-denial. A denial in the sense that those who are supposed to speak the truth to power have taken in an attitude of silence and many of them are burying themselves in politics. It is time to put politics aside and focus on the issue of insecurity. People that are privileged to move to the villa should please spare us the time of telling the truth to the people in power that things are getting worse and there is a need for us to do what we need to do.â€
Epia, Publisher of OrderPaper NG, tweets @resourceme.