By Shola Oyeyipo
Elder statesman and former Liaison Officer to former President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, has expressed fears that the manner of interventions in political matters by security operatives is endangering democracy in Nigeria.
Yakassai, who had repeatedly expressed concern about how security operatives were getting involved in the democratic process, feared that partisanship among security personnel could harm the country’s democracy.
Speaking with THISDAY in a telephone interview on the unfolding events at the National Assembly where DSS operatives prevented lawmakers from accessing the National Assembly premises, the 92-year- old politician said he suspected that President Muhammadu Buhari might be privy to the siege to the parliament.
“For now, my suspicion is whether that is the reason why President Buhari went to London for two weeks; whether it is the beginning of a coup d’etat. Either in full swing or by installment.
“Also, it is an indication that what I fear in the next election will come to pass – that the security forces and probably the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will not allow free and fair election. That will be the beginning of the end of democracy for now in Nigeria,” he warned.
Earlier, Yakassai had warned that security operatives in the country must not plunge the country into Zimbabwe situation where deadly clashes broke out after the country went to the polls when he was reacting to the clampdown on the home of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki ,recently.
According to him, “It is not a good commentary on democracy in Zimbabwe. Partisanship intervention by security operatives in Nigeria is not a good commentary on themselves and on our democracy, and for our peace and stability.”
He said further that “My concern is not about who is vying for which position from which party, my concern is whether we are going to get free, fair and credible election in 2019. That is the most important for me.
“My fear is, if you take what happened in Benue State recently when security personnel were alleged to have prevented members of the State House of Assembly from access to the assembly and allowed minority to go in to impeach the governor. The security personnel who took part in that action are being used as tools or part of a political party. They are not supposed to go into partisanship position.
“The second thing is the way some security operatives attempted to prevent the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and the Senate President Bukola Saraki from attending Senate meeting. Every Nigerian should be free to move. In this country, there is freedom of movement. It is not proper for any security operative to prevent the people from moving. If anybody has committed an infraction, he should be written and invited.”
Noting that security operatives have more important roles to play in a democratic system than serving any interest, he said: “We all saw what happened in the Ekiti election where we had reports, including reports of international observers, which said there were buying of votes and our security operatives were there and they did not arrest anybody.
“That should be a matter of concern to anyone. That is unfortunate for you the younger ones, for us, we are just waiting for our departure to be called, that is according to Chief Edwin Clark. You are the future of the country.”
To him, there is nothing spectacular about politicians dumping their parties because most of those people in the All Progressives Congress (APC) were previously in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and they crossed over to the APC.
“If some of them now cross over to the PDP or any other party, that is the nature of Nigerian politics,” he said.