By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar has urged Nigerians to stop criticising failures of government and misrule of bad leaders in the country but should rise up and vote out incompetent government.
General Abubakar spoke yesterday evening at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, where he delivered a Distinguished Annual Lecture on ‘Election and Security in Nigeria: Policy Options and Strategies’ ahead of the Graduation Ceremony of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 40 holding today (Saturday).
He said, “Let me try to conclude by saying that every citizen must do their duty; you must not sell your vote, you must register to vote, and stop criticising the failures of government if you will not go and vote them out if they are not doing their job. You should not allow your children to be used for violence.”
While recalling the history of violence in Nigeria since the independence, the General identified some of the causes to include incredible election umpires, militarisation of elections by security agents, crowded political parties, poor electoral laws, and delay in judicial system.
According to General Abubakar, credible electoral umpire was very critical in building the confidence of the electorate, adding that they must be seen to be transparent, adding, “They must not be seen to be taking side as observed in Ekiti State with the result now being contested in court.”
He said the responsibility of security agencies must be defined as their roles were very critical to the success or failure of any election as “Heavy policing and militarisation of election as observed in Ekiti was enough to scare voters from coming out to exercise their franchise.”
Abubakar also decried vote-buying, describing it as an ill that must be urgently addressed before the 2019 elections. He said Boko Haram was certainly a threat to the 2019 elections in the North-east, adding that IPOB, the MEND and others were also a threat.
Noting that there were currently 91 registered political parties for the elections, the General described it 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 were not taken, political hooliganism was gradually taking over the system, while anarchy steered Nigerians in the face, adding that all these were even complicated by the current abuse of the social media which must be stopped by all means.
He also blamed Nigeria’s ordeal on 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.
“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 appealing to Nigerians to give peace a chance, he said “without peace there will be no Nigeria.”
At the lecture was former Chairman, Board of Governors of NIPSS, Major General Paul Omu. The Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba, and Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Prof Sonni Tyoden, who represented Governor Simon Lalong.
All the guests hailed the choice of General Abubakar, who they said was most competent to deliver such a lecture that was apt considering the trying time in Nigeria.