By Segun James
The conduct of the Osun State supplementary elections has continued to generate reactions and heightened concerns as the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has said that unless Nigerians and the international community insist, the chances of the country having a free, fair and credible election in February next year is very slim.
The forum in a statement signed by Yinka Odumakin, South-weest; Senator Bassey Henshaw, South South; Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, South-east and Dr. Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt, said that the election which should have been concluded at the first ballot “was forced into a contrived inconclusive mode so as to perpetrate one of the worst malfeasance in electoral contest in recent times, was a practical demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s faux pas months back that he was still shocked that former President Jonathan conceded to him in 2015.”
The forum said that both local and international observers, especially the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union have detailed “the brazen deployment and use of security agencies to intimidate and deny the electorate their constitutional rights to vote for candidates of their choice, the arithmetic shenanigans of university professors, and the obvious logistical lapses on the part of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the disadvantage of the opposition parties.
According to them, “the apparent complicity of the security agencies in the supplementary election seriously undermines the commitment of the federal Government under the ruling party, All People Congress (APC) to ensure that the 2019 general elections will be free fair and credible and above all respect and guarantee the independence of INEC.
“The consolidation and deepening of democracy remains of paramount importance to the peace and stability of the country and this can only be guaranteed when the constitutional rights of the people to vote are respected are upheld.
“It is in this regard, that the statements issued by domestic and International observer teams
“We encourage those at the receiving end of the electoral banditry perpetrated in the Osun State elections to proceed to the court as promised in order to test the processes with the law.”
The group therefore, called on the international community to engage all stakeholders and to work with all political parties across the board to ensure that the government does not stand on the way of a smooth electoral process; and that the general elections in 2019 “are not only held in a conducive atmosphere but are adjudged without any iota of doubt, free, fair and credible elections.”