By ‘Wale Oluwade
The recent activities of the National Peace Committee of Gen. Abubakar Abdulsalami are on my mind. I recall the role the group played in the weeks leading to the 2015 presidential elections and how it brokered a peace accord between then incumbent Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his main challenger, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. Many have commended the smooth transition after the defeat of the incumbent. Fast forward to now, and the eminent body is out again repeating the same noble activity. But, I’m wondering why this committee has not found it worthy to intervene in the many crises of elections post 2015. Are we to conclude that its interest is only in the presidential polls?
This is germane because, I’m wondering where were they where the ‘cash and carry’ charade that was Edo, Anambra and Ekiti governorship elections happened? This question is all the more imperative as well because despite the shame of a nation that took place on October 27 in Osun state, there was not a whimper from this body. Does it mean that this was unimportant and not a threat to national peace and unity? By their deafening silence, we can rig elections so blatantly in states, such as the Kano local government elections where children freely and fairly voted in the glare of the world, but only when it comes to the presidency, there can be no rigging?
In my view, I find this position absurd. For many reasons, but I will mention just a few instances where the National Peace Committee should have spoken and enunciate my reasons.
The peace committee should have spoken and condemned the deployment of soldiers to the NASS that led to the sacking of the former DG SSS. The elders ought to have condemned all the sham elections aforementioned in the respective states. They should have, in unambiguous terms, slammed the brazenly partisan and divisive role the security agencies, most notably the Police, DSS and EFCC demonstrate in muzzling and hounding opposition on behalf of the federal government. They ought to have risen and strongly condemned the ignoble atrocity of October 27 in the Osun governorship rerun elections.
The elders ought to have; above all else they have failed to do, convened a world press conference and admonished the President for his refusal to sign the 2018 Electoral Amendment bill sent to him by NASS. Why? For the clear and present danger his refusal of assent poses to the 2019 general elections. For the manifest duplicitousness in the entire episode, going back and forth four times, all the while knowing he was not going to sign. For the simple fact that it is obvious even to the blind, the APC and its federal government, are hell bent on rigging next February elections, particularly in the so-called stronghold North West region of President Buhari.
One, the declared results from the 2015 presidential elections in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Bauchi, and Zamfara states, where President Buhari got extremely high votes of those accredited to vote has been allegedly attributed to the use of ‘Incident Forms’ in place of the Smart Card Reader device, deployed by INEC thereby ensuring voting by aliens, underage and unregistered persons. Two, the recent local government elections conducted where children were seen voting on live TV with glee while being egged on by adults, security men and SIEC officials in Kano state. Three, the most credible and indubitable evidence yet are the just conducted affirmative primaries of the APC, where the party declared that its sole aspirant, President Buhari garnered a whopping 14.8m votes from party members across the states to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate in 2019.
Many enlightened commentators have questioned and knocked the bottom off this dubious and patently false figure. The best commentary I read on this was written in this paper on October 26, 2018 by Shaka Momodu titled; “How APC, INEC Would Rig 2019 Elections.” Every interested Civil Society Organisation, foreign and local election monitors/observers, security agencies, etc., should read this piece for their education. To my mind, the APC presidential primaries’ declared results, is the single most potent evidence that what this party and the federal government is banking on to win in 2019 is blatant rigging. In addition to the critical analysis done in Shaka Momodu’s piece, I ask the following questions; where is the APC membership register affirming that it has bona fide, verifiable and biometrically proven membership totaling or exceeding this number? How and when did the ‘party’ achieve this humongous feat being less than five-years old? Can this membership list/data be opened to public scrutiny and forensic audit?
We all saw the APC primaries both on television and live. We are all witnesses to the large scale fiasco that has trailed the monumental farce that most of the primaries in the states produced. There are at least 300 cases in the courts consequent upon these primaries. As I type these, the courts have begun overturning some of these travesties so-called primaries. Major players, including governors of not less than three states are at loggerheads with the party and its hierarchy over the primaries. Thousands of party faithfuls have decamped to other parties in many states consequent on these primaries. Some NASS and state lawmakers have decamped as well. A serving federal minister is threatening to work against the party at the polls and so forth. And biggest of all, the President’s spouse has come out to denounce the primaries as not more than a huge scam set up to defraud unsuspecting persons of their hard earned monies.
The Absurdity of the Peace Agreement
My specific grouse with the peace committee is that what it seems to have unwittingly done is to say to the presidential contestants; “You’re going into these elections which in all probability, will be rigged, however, and despite this, you can’t make or foment trouble. Simply accept the outcome and move on. Look up to the example of President Goodluck Jonathan, who though had many grounds to challenge the election results at the courts but chose to forgo that right for the sake of peace and to debunk the prediction that 2015 was the year of Nigeria’s unraveling.”
And I say; arrant nonsense. Complete hogwash. Why?
First, there cannot be peace with injustice. The single greatest contributor to societal instability is injustice under whatever guise. Second, the major challenger this time isn’t anywhere like President Goodluck Jonathan, and that is important. Third, I said in a different piece that the President is notorious for signing anything, bill or document, that is useless and meaningless. Such was the case with the ‘Not Too Young to Run Bill’. He signed and even gathered the ‘youths’ together for a photo op session. However, whenever there is an effort, to substantially alter and make status quo much better, such as the instant case, he would throw up all manner of spurious excuses to avoid doing the needful. Finally, the general mood of the nation is obviously being taken for granted.
So there was President Buhari with the elders, grinning from ear-to-ear like a boy with a new bicycle, alert and joyous, taking photographs accompanied by the crude and loquacious APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. But I found it all quite disgusting. Is the useless ‘peace accord’ actionable in a court of law? Is the peace document a law of the NASS? Is it a law or convention of the ECOWAS or Commonwealth or United Nations? I equally find it utterly preposterous the arguments put forward to justify the president’s manifest dubiousness. While I concede that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but facts are sacred and truth is eternal. If anyone thinks they will rig the elections next year and get away with, they have another think coming.
In conclusion, if this body will choose to keep silent when manifest injustice happens repeatedly in the land, and only rouse itself from slumber few weeks to general elections, then I think it is wise for them to forever hold their peace. The peace they are advocating is that of the grave yard. Evil and injustice, it is said, thrives when good people keep silent. The Peace Committee has repeatedly missed the mark of true patriots and statesmen. Their effort now is shutting the barn doors after the horse has bolted.
This writer can be reached at @WaleOluwade