Nigeria: Buhari's 'Marching Orders' to INEC, Police

21 January 2020
opinion

It seems that governance and the running of our public affairs have been reduced to circus shows. Institutions are established by the constitution. Their functions and powers are clearly spelt out, yet these institutions wait for the President to give "marching orders" before some importance is attached to what should be normal routines.

We saw what happened after the violent Kogi governorship election of November 16, 2019. The Woman Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ochadanu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area, Madam Salome Abuh, was gruesomely murdered. Her family cried for justice, but the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, came out to lament that "fake policemen" had overpowered his over 36,000 extra police personnel mobilised to safeguard the election and the electorate.

President Buhari issued a belated condolence to the family ten days after the murder, giving the Police the marching orders to fish out the culprits. Within 24 hours, the same Police that had seemed incapacitated paraded some suspects of the dastardly act.

On Tuesday, January 8, 2020, the President met with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and the Police IG Adamu, and gave another "marching order" that the 28 rerun elections billed for January 2020 and others henceforth should be free and fair.

"Those that you declare as winners must be the candidates that the people have chosen. Democracy is about freewill, and the will of the people must be allowed to prevail", Buhari told them.

Watchers of elections that have taken place under the watch of the current administration may not be thrilled by these exhortations. Every major election is foreshadowed by such dramatic exhortations and warnings.

The President had threatened ballot box snatchers with summary death before the 2019 general elections, yet uniformed men, armed hoodlums and touts were mobilised to obtain the results that INEC announced as winners and losers of the election. These marching orders are probably just for public show while state agencies still proceed to implement the hidden agenda of incumbent politicians.

Worse still, we wonder why the INEC should wait for "marching orders" before implementing its mandate as constitutionally empowered. The independence of the electoral umpire was emphasised by the insertion of the word, Independent, in its name, and also through firm constitutional provisions. Waiting to be given marching orders by the President is a sign that Mahmood Yakubu's INEC has voluntarily abdicated its powers and become a mere errand boy.

This is unacceptable. We want a truly independent INEC and a Police Force that will implement the laws without fear, favour and ill will towards any political interest.

The President must stop dictating when he wants free and fair elections.

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