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The consistent allegation that the current crises in Nigeria as evident in the lingering fuel crisis and problems associated with the naira note redesigning and its crippling effects on the populace are pointers to an alleged plot by some unscrupulous and mischievous fifth columnists to institute an Interim National Government (ING) as a stop-gap to the on-going electioneering processes must not only be condemned in the strongest terms but be totally rejected as Nigeria cannot afford a break in its consolidated 24 years of unbroken democracy.
We are absolutely worried about intelligence reports suggesting that political gladiators who are worried that the outcome of a free, fair and credible election on February 25, 2023, may not favour them are being fingered as master minding insurrection leading to an unfavourable atmosphere for the smooth handing over to a democratically elected leadership by May 29 so as to justify the enthronement of an interim administration akin to the General Ibrahim Babangida’s scuttled transition programme of 1993.
It is obvious to every discerning observer that the finger-pointing by the likes of Kaduna State Governor Nasir El- Rufai and former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomele that perceived cabal within the presidency is working copiously hard to deny the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) victory at the poll presupposes that there must be strong institutions and individuals plotting on ways of countering their perceived fears from coming to fruitful hence the strong suspicion that there may be truth in the plot for an ING.
We recall that the ING was fostered in Nigeria following the crisis that erupted in the aborted Third Republic after General Ibrahim Babangida, then a military President handed power over to Chief Ernest Shonekan as interim Head of State on 27 August 1993 a few weeks after annulling the June 12, 1993, presidential election won by Chief MKO Abiola now of blessed memory. The then largely powerless ING was dissolved thereafter when General Sani Abacha seized power on 17 November 1993.
The cancellation of that election resulted in widespread protests and rioting, particularly in the southern part of the country which was harshly suppressed by the military junta. But Babangida suddenly announced that he would step down on 26th August 1993, and hand over to Shonekan as head of the ING, a promise that he kept. The Late Shonekan, who had a law degree, had studied at the Harvard Business School in the US, and had held senior management positions in various companies was an unelected technocrat chosen in a deal between Babangida and political leaders, and his appointment was poorly received by the media and the general public.
We make haste to warn the shenanigans plotting to drag the country and indeed Nigerians into any form of contraption which portends danger, undemocratic and anti-development. Though Nigeria has witnessed development and bad governance in its 24 years of unbroken democratic journey since May 29, 1999, the country deserves commendation because this is the first time it will be attaining such a milestone. As the late elder statesman and pragmatic politician, Chief Obafemi Awolowo once observed, the worst civilian government is better than the best military administration and by extension, an interim government.
Much as we frown at the economic and social hardship which Nigerians are currently undergoing in the face of the lingering energy crisis, naira scarcity and food inflation, we are of the opinion that every effort must not only be intensified but be sustained in ensuring the smooth conduct of this year’s general election to the extent that Nigerian will be seen as gaining traction in both the political and economic fronts. We advise the citizens to avoid playing into the hands of political contractors whose selfish interest lies in the financial returns which accrue from their nefarious activities.
The continuous struggle by the APC chieftains to link the fuel crisis and the logjam created by the naira redesign to a plot to deny the party victory at the polls led to the new wave of call for protests alongside the resort to litigation by a group of APC governors led by El-Rufai challenging the activities of government are not in tandem with the optimism of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the 2023 general election will be free, fair and credible to the extent that the outcome of the elections will represent fresh tonic to Nigeria’s future.
We are deeply worried about a recent media report that some military officers allegedly met with a presidential candidate with the aim of disrupting the general elections and setting the country on fire even though the Nigerian Armed Forces swiftly debunked the allegation with a stern warning that those who engage in “fabricating and spreading unfounded misinformation will be invited by the appropriate law enforcement agencies to substantiate their claims.”
It is worth noting the recent admonition which was contained in a statement by the Acting Director, of Defence Information, Brigadier General, Tukur Gusau, reiterated the continued loyalty of the military to the 1999 Constitution and civil authorities in the country adding, that “it needs to be stated that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is a professional military that is loyal to the constitution of the Federal Republic and will never be part of any evil plot against our democracy. Besides, the Military remains apolitical and neutral in the current political process and will not engage in the alleged shenanigans. The Armed Forces of Nigeria will never be part of any ignoble plot to truncate our hard-earned democracy”.
We are challenging all stakeholders in the Nigerian project to do all within their powers to ensure that the country follows the path of countries like Kenya, Namibia and Granada where the outcome of their successful elections has repositioned the affected nations on the path of growth. The election of Dickson Mitchel, 44 as Prime Minister of Granada in place of the 75 –year- old incumbent Prime Minister who had held power for 19 years with his party controlling 100% of parliamentary seats was a replication of the Kenyan experience, the much as it is indicative of the desires of an emerging generation all over the world where the youths are now having a loud say in the governance of their various nations.
President Muhammadu Buhari has the burden of history in ensuring the smooth handover of governance to a democratically elected successor come May 29 as we believe that it is the only way perhaps that Nigerians will remember him for good against the backdrop of so many missteps, stumbles and near falls which have characterized his eight years administration. The alleged huge investments by the administration in both infrastructure and human capital development must be subjected to public scrutiny through the institutionalization of a democratic culture which will only be guaranteed by a seamless handover to another democratically elected leadership.
We believe that the President’s recent approval for the establishment of a Transition Council to be inaugurated February 14, to facilitate and manage the transition programme is not only a right step in the right direction but will reassure the people and the international community of the outgoing administration commitment to handing over to whoever is elected by Nigerians this month to further consolidate democracy in the country.
Buhari’s administration may not have acquitted itself as the cure-all prescription to Nigeria’s myriads of problems when he came on board in 2015, but its guarantee of sustenance of democratic rule may stand as the sure bet to having a new constitution for the people and by the people to replace the voodoo and pseudo-constitution hurriedly foisted on Nigerians by the former head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. This is the only sure way to security, sanity, stability, good governance and development in the country. Anything that will militate against the smooth conduct of a peaceful, free, fair and credible elections on February 25 and March 11 and the subsequent handing over of power to a democratically elected government would be considered anti-people, condemnable and rejected.
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