Nigeria: Election Not War, U.S. Tells Nigerians

President Muhammadu Buhari.
15 February 2019

From the United States (U.S.) yesterday came the advice that the Nigerian electorate should shun every act of violence that may mar the conduct of peaceful, credible and fair polls. It cautioned: "Election is not war, vote not fight."The U.S. Consul General in Lagos, John Bray, admonished the citizens to come out en masse tomorrow with their Permanent Voter's Cards (PVC) to elect credible people-oriented candidates that would effectively represent them and improve their lot.

Bray, who spoke yesterday in an interview with BBC Pidgin, said America was interested in the peaceful conduct of the general elections. He urged Nigerians not to sell their votes, saying the future of the country was dependent on the outcome of the polls."I beg you all to come out from your house on Saturday with your PVCs to vote any candidate of your choice. Please, election is not war, don't fight anybody because of vote, and don't sell your vote to eat rice," he advised.

Besides, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, yesterday disclosed that there are over one million dead persons on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)'s voters register.Specifically, he said the party has evidence that over 1,050,051 dead voters will vote at the polls.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Secondus also alleged that there has been a coordinated approach to register foreigners as voters, mainly from Niger Republic and Cameroon, adding: "That is why INEC has established so many polling units along the border with Cameroon and Niger."It is clear that INEC did not do a cleanup of the voters register before it was published. In previous INEC administrations, this was mitigated by administrative arrangements where voters did accreditation in the morning and voted at noon.

"So, if a voter wanted to vote twice, say at A and B, they would have to go to A and get accredited, then go to B and also get accredited, and then go back to A to vote and then to B to vote - an onerous regimen that prevented cultivating."He explained that in the new continuous voting regime, this administrative support measure has been disposed of, specifically to facilitate multiple voting by a large number of All Progressives Congress (APC) members.

"The voters register contains the data of dead voters. Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) of dead voters were printed and distributed nationwide. Government data shows that the gross death rate in Nigeria is 12.5 per 1,000 lives. We have evidence that over 1,050,051 dead voters will vote in this election," he stated.He stressed that INEC and President Muhammadu Buhari had decided that dead voters would cast ballots, noting, "The idea of ghost voters is consistent with the nature of this virtual President."

Secondus also alleged that there is a deliberate manipulation of security agencies, saying, "multiple intelligence sources available to us shows that the APC, in conjunction with INEC through their ICT situation room has concluded plans to manipulate the outcome of Saturday's election." Citing areas where plans have been concluded to manipulate the process, he said this is done, "by deliberately corrupting INEC voters register to induce suppression in PDP's strongholds with the aim of disenfranchising at least four voters by corrupting their names on the voters register.

"The strategy is to create artificial problems where at least four registered voters can be disfranchised in PDP strongholds. The target is to adequately limit the estimated members of PDP who would want to vote in their areas."The PDP National Chairman, however, demanded that government should respect the people's wish, adding, "INEC calls an immediate meeting of political parties participating in the presidential election and appoint representatives to oversee their work."

Similarly, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the wishes of Nigerians and vacate office if defeated at the polls, saying Nigerians would not renew his tenancy in the presidency. Atiku, who spoke yesterday in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, his home state, during his final campaign rally said that the leadership of Buhari had not only factionalised the county along ethnicity and religious lines, but had imposed avoidable hardship on Nigerians due to the shortsightedness of the administration.

The former vice president, who said that his party handed over the country to the APC intact, pointed out that Nigeria had remained a ghost of itself due to the maladministration and display of leadership incompetence by the Buhari's government. Atiku, who also asked the Adamawa State governor, Muhammed Jibrilla Bindow, to arrange his personal belongings preparatory to what he described as March 2nd 2019 send forth for the governor, noted that the incoming government of PDP would not tolerate indolent leaders at all levels of government."APC government brought disunity, poverty, privatisation of corruption as only APC members are not corrupt, according to Buhari government. APC national chairman said whatever you do fraudulently, just join APC and your sins will be forgiven, meaning APC is haven for corrupt people.

"I want you the people of Adamawa State to know that I am not in Yola for campaign, but to inform you that Nigerians have picked your son as the next president of Nigeria, so that I can come and rescue the country from total collapse as we are seeing now," he stated.But the Federal Government yesterday cautioned the PDP against throwing the country into anarchy out of its alleged desperation to grab power at all cost, saying Nigeria's unity and survival override any party's ambition.

Information and CultureMinister Lai Mohammed who gave the warning alleged that the latest manifestation of PDP's avowed determination to discredit the results of the 2019 elections was the statement credited to the opposition party that it lacked confidence in INEC and the party's decision to set up what it calls Parallel Voting Tabulation (PVT) system.

He said the alleged attempt by the PDP to discredit the results of the yet-to-be held 2019 general elections was an invitation to anarchy.

"Consistently, the PDP has been attacking the two national institutions that are most pivotal to the elections - the INEC and the police. This is part of the party's strategy to erode confidence in the institutions, preparatory to faulting the outcome of the elections.

"We have also been calling national and international attention to this strategy by the PDP. We warned that the PDP will do everything to scuttle the polls, failing which the opposition party will work to discredit the results. The persistent accusation of planned rigging of the polls, which is not evidence-based, the not-so-subtle threat of violence issued by the PDP at its press conference on Wednesday and the setting up of the PVT are all geared to achieve one objective: discredit the election results.' '

Also, the presidential candidate of People's Trust, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has, in an interview with The Guardian, agreed that one way to check rigging is for "INEC to announce/publish the number or lists of collected and uncollected PVCs and deduct the same from the number of registered voters to enable the world to know how many people are qualified to vote.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar III, urged Nigerians to protect their votes and elect the candidates of their choice. The monarch spoke yesterday at the 2019 Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture, themed "Towards Credible, Peaceful and Participatory Election-Moving Nigeria's Democracy Forward" organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF).

According to him, the foreign observers are concerned about the general elections due to the country's population and being the giant of Africa that other African countries are looking up to."I call on all Nigerians to vote the candidates of their choice and protect their votes because the commoners who queue up to vote are the ones that choose who their leaders should be and the government must listen to them when they get to power," he said.

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi Lamido, challenged young people to take the mantle of leadership by 2023, urging them to be resilient and courageous because the future lies with them. Sanusi urged the elder statesmen to tutor the younger generation by giving them chance to hold political offices in the country

"Given the history of our country young people have shown resilience and courage, and by 2023 they will do great exploits. The older ones should tutor the young ones, so by 2023 they will be happy that the younger ones are what they wanted them to be. Give the younger ones a place to govern the country," he said.

In his goodwill message, the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, urged all security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be independent in the discharge of their duties, adding that the UN would support the country's general elections.

Former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Botswana President, Festus Mogae urged Nigerians to vote their conscience and not to see the election as a do or die affair.The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi admonished Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love and sacrifice symbolised by Valentine for their conduct during tomorrow's general elections.He gave the charge in a statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare.

Ooni Ogunwusi said Nigerians should express love of Valentine beyond romantic displays and exchange of gift items by emphasising peaceful coexistence and treatment of one another as members of the same family.He urged politicians to avoid utterances that could heat up the polity and be accountable to the people.

"The days of politicians coming for votes and disappearing after elections are gone for good, measures are currently being put in place to hold you all accountable," the monarch said.Besides, in Kaduna yesterday, not less than 438 security operatives conducted a show of force in the metropolis and its environs towards ensuring the conduct of peaceful elections.

The security agencies that participated in the exercise included 1 Division Garrison of the Nigeria Army, the Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services (DSS) and the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC).

Kaduna is one of the states that are prone to crises, as a little ethno-religious and political misunderstanding usually erupts and degenerates into full-blown violence.

The Brigade Commander, 1Division Garrison Kaduna, Brig-Gen Jimmy Akpor, said the show of force was to create an enabling security environment for hitch-free elections.He disclosed that the same composition of security forces and agencies also carried out a similar show of force in Zaria, Kachia and Birnin Gwari simultaneously to show their resolve to guarantee a secure environment before, during and after the elections.

"In line with the Nigerian Army Timeline for the 2019 general elections, all formations were tasked to conduct a simultaneous 'Show of Force' in major cities and towns within their various areas of responsibility today (yesterday) 14 February 2019."He said more than 67 assorted operational vehicles and 438 personnel of various services, forces and agencies participated in the Kaduna exercise.

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