Militarization of 2019 Polls may Mar Exercise, Abdulsalami Warns

Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar

By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

A former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, has warned that militarisation of the 2019 elections will dent the credibility of the exercise and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with attendant security consequences.

He said that the responsibility of security agencies must be defined as their roles are very critical to the success or failure of any election.

“Heavy policing and militarisation of election as recently observed in Ekiti was enough to scare voters from coming out to exercise their franchise,” he said.

Gen. Abubakar spoke Friday night at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) where he delivered a lecture on ‘Election and Security in Nigeria: Policy Options and Strategies’ ahead of the graduation ceremony of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 40 holding Saturday.

He also decried vote-buying, describing it as an ill that must be urgently addressed before the 2019 elections, adding that Boko Haram is certainly a threat to the elections in the North-east, even as the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) also pose security threat in other parts of the country.

According to Abdulsalami, credible electoral umpire is very critical in building the confidence of the electorate, adding that they must be seen to be transparent.

“They must not be seen to be taking sides as observed in Ekiti State with the result now being contested in court,” he said.

Alarmed by the high number of registered political parties for the exercise, Abdulsalami described the current registration of 91 political parties for the elections as undesirable crowd, especially that “many of the so-called political parties do not have ideological orientation. They are ethno-regional in character, with low party discipline; there is hardly anything like party supremacy. Those that fund them hijack and commercialise them”.

He feared that if quick actions are not taken, political hooliganism is gradually taking over the system, while anarchy steers Nigerians in the face, adding that all these are even complicated by the current abuse of the social media which must be stopped by all means.

He also blamed Nigeria’s ordeal on what he described as colonial historical baggage, noting that “Nigeria’s amalgamation was not scripted to benefit the nation, coupled with the divide-and-rule practice by the British in Nigeria, and the inordinate greed and ambition of our political elites”.

According to him, “Absence of check and balances and culture of winner takes it all in Nigeria have made politicians to become desperate to get it by hook-or-crook.”

While asking Nigerians to stop criticising failures of government and misrule of bad leaders in the country, Abdulsalami said such incompetent leaders should be voted out.

He said: “Let me try to conclude by saying that every citizen must do their duty; you must register to vote, you must not sell your vote, you should not allow your children to be used for violence, and stop criticising the failures of government if you will not go and vote them out.”

While appealing to Nigerians to give peace a chance, he said “without peace there will be no Nigeria”.

The former chairman, Board of Governors of NIPSS, Major General Paul Omu; the Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba; and the Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, who represented Governor Simon Lalong were present at the lecture that was well attended by dignitaries.