By Deji Elumoye
A former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to walk his talk by allowing the people of Edo and Ondo States to elect the governors of their choice in the gubernatorial elections scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively in line with his recent admonition of West African leaders.
President Buhari had, while speaking on Tuesday at the 57th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey, capital of Niger Republic, warned ECOWAS leaders against the temptation of elongating their tenure in office beyond constitutional limits.
The president had told his colleagues that “there is the need to guarantee free, fair and credible elections and this must be the bedrock for democracy to be sustained in our sub-region, just as the need for adherence to the rule of law”.
Frank, in a reaction to Buhari’s advice to the West African leaders, stressed that the president should use the Edo and Ondo States’ governorship elections as a test case to prove to the world that he is sincere and ready to abide by his own admonition.
He urged President Buhari to begin his ‘African charity’ at home by ensuring that the forthcoming Edo and Ondo States’ governorship election are free of manipulation, intimidation, harassment of voters, violence and the illegal use of security forces to upturn genuine poll results in favour of the party at the centre.
He said: “Anything short of free, fair and credible elections in the two states would put a lie and insincerity to Buhari’s admonition to West African leaders and cause the country a huge international embarrassment.”
He, therefore, submitted that since President Buhari has called on African leaders to stop subverting democracy, it behoves the heads of security agencies in the country, particularly the Director-General (DG) of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector-General of Police (IG), to ensure that their men do not interfere in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States.
According to him,b“They should take a cue from President Buhari’s speech and ensure we have a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections, where the votes of the people count.”
Frank also commented on the recent hike in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariffs, saying it is another test case where Buhari should demonstrate his willingness to abide by his own gospel through respect for the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians.
“Clearly, the increases represent a final nail on the coffin of poor and vulnerable Nigerians if not immediately reversed and reviewed downwards in line with falling prices of crude oil in the international market,” he said.
Frank also called on the current Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, to call sub-regional leaders whose policies are detrimental to their people to order, saying: “A stitch in time saves nine.”
He advised African leaders to be democratic in their dealings and avoid the abuse of power especially human rights abuses and rigging of elections, and called on them to listen to their people and forget about selfish ambitions.
“They should at all times safeguard the sanctity of the ballot box and ensure that the choice of the people during polls are respected.
“They need to conduct free and fair elections in their countries to prevent disruption to governance by military junta as recently witnessed in Mali,” e said.