In direct response to the alarm raised by the country’s electoral umpire about an impending cancellation of the forthcoming general election on grounds of insecurity, the federal government has calmed frayed nerves, saying there is no threat to the polls.
Categorically, the government said the elections will hold as planned, and there is nothing to suggest otherwise.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Monday warned that the 2023 general election, which is less than two months away, faces a serious threat of cancellation if the wave of insecurity in parts of the country fails to improve.
The commission’s warning came on the day newsacross.com reported that about one week after the expiration of the December 31, 2022 deadline to end all forms of terrorist criminality, attacks have persisted.
But the federal government noted yesterday that the electoral body is collaborating with security agencies to make sure that the polls are conducted smoothly.
The minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated this during the 17th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari Scorecard series featuring the minister of Health, Dr Ehanire Osagie.
He said, “Before I invite the Honourable minister of Health to the podium, let me use this opportunity to respond to inquiries from the media over a widely-circulated report, credited to an INEC official, that the 2023 general elections face a serious threat of cancellation due to insecurity.
“The position of the federal government remains that the 2023 elections will be held as planned. Nothing has happened to change that position.
“We are aware that INEC is working with the security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.”
The minister stated that security agencies have also continued to assure Nigerians that they are working tirelessly to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere.
“Therefore, there is no cause for alarm,” he added.
INEC had on Monday said the seeming unabated insecurity may prevent the much expected general election from holding.
According to the commission’s chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, if the insecurity in the country is “not dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of election results and precipitate constitutional crisis”.
Mahmood spoke in Abuja through the chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Abdullahi Zuru.
Despite the federal government’s position, the pan Yoruba social cultural organisation, Afenifere, yesterday warned against postponement of the 2023 general elections.
It said every effort must be made to ensure that the polls slated for February and March this year are conducted successfully and winners declared and sworn in on May 29, 2023 as stipulated by the nation’s laws.
In a press statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere however noted that Nigerians were reassured by the prompt response by the minister of Information and Culture who vowed that nothing will stop the elections as scheduled.
Afenifere said, “But we feel that there is the need to let anyone thinking of postponement or cancellation of the elections that such a thing is and will remain unacceptable, no matter the reason.
“We recall that in 2015, there was insecurity too to the extent that some local government areas, specifically in Borno State, were in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists. Yet elections were held. There also was insecurity in 2019 and elections were not stopped”.
The organisation further stated that it felt the need to sound the note of warning so that whoever may be thinking of postponing or altering the elections’ calendar should know that such a thing would not be accepted.
“In Nigeria, there is often the tendency to fly a kite. Most of the time, such kites are on policies or steps that were usually not in the best interest of the Nigerian public. This is why it is very important to clearly sound this note of warning without any ambiguity. This is why we are stating clearly that Nigerians are prepared for the elections just as the whole world is awaiting the elections. Nothing whatsoever should alter the schedule or cause postponement let alone cancellation”.
Afenifere added however that the commission has, so far, demonstrated its commitment to giving the country an election package that will be celebrated positively.
It stated that the commission’s commitment is in line with various assurances that President Muhammadu Buhari had repeatedly given that this year’s elections will not only hold, but will be free, fair and credible.
Afenifere stressed that the president has also repeatedly expressed his desire to retire to his country home in Daura, Katsina State immediately he hands over on May 29, 2023.
The organisation therefore called on all concerned to ensure that nothing is done to suggest that these assuring words of President Buhari are a veil that could be used by the unscrupulous to hoodwink Nigerians into a false hope.
“So much has been invested into the forthcoming general elections. Everything must be done to ensure that the elections are held and held successfully,” Afenifere stated.
AGF Asks Governors To Join Fight Against Insecurity
Also yesterday, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), called on governors of the 36 states of the federation not to leave the fight against insecurity in the country to the federal government alone.
According to the AGF, there is a need to explore areas of collaboration between the states and the FG in terms of prosecution and other means of combating insecurity.
He spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2023 Conference Of Attorneys-General in Nigeria, held in Abuja.
Speaking at the conference of the AGs, Malami maintained that the support from states is required for the effective implementation of measures that would check the heightening level of insecurity and corruption in the federation.
“There is no doubt that the support of the States is required for effective implementation and to increase the tempo of the war against corruption.
“In addition, we need to explore areas of collaboration between the States and the Federal Government in terms of prosecution and other means of combating insecurity.
“The fight against insecurity should not be left to the Federal Government, especially for offences falling within the jurisdiction of the States”, Malami pleaded.
He said the essence of the conference was for the AGs to extensively brainstorm on areas of mutual collaboration that would include the domestication or review and enforcement of legislations such as the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and Child Rights Act, among others.
He said, “In our quest to implement reforms in the administration of justice, a critical determinant factor remains adequate funding for the judiciary which also entails compliance with the provisions of the Constitution on financial autonomy for the judiciary and State legislatures, as a mark of our true and holistic commitment to the ideals of democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
“I am delighted to inform this gathering that efforts are already ongoing by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and that of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to operationalise an increased salary and welfare package for our Judicial Officers, as recently approved by the president.”
YCE Warns Against Postponement Of Election, Decries Agitations
Similarly, the Senior Elders Forum of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) have warned the federal government not to postpone the February general election.
Such a move, they said, can usher in chaos and anarchy into the country.
YCE said, “From our own intelligence report, more than 90 per cent of Yoruba people are already fed up with the present concoction called Nigeria.
“It is only those who are feeding on the crumbs that fell from their masters’ table that are still paying homage to their Northern leaders”.
Warning against postponement of the general election fixed for February this year, they reasoned that postponing the election would only mean postponing the evil day adding that somehow in the future, the country would still have to be confronted with that problem.
The elders declared that more than 90 per cent of people in the South West are fed up with the “concoction called Nigeria”.
The senior citizens who spoke through the former National President of YCE, Dansaaki Col Samuel Adeleye (rtd) said this in Ibadan on Tuesday.
They frowned at the protest that took place at Ojota in Lagos which resulted in the death of some young Nigerians scolding the people that organized the protest for exposing the youths to danger while they sit back abroad and watch them on the television.
“We, the elders, heard a report that the protest was organised by some people outside the country. This made us a bit unhappy because those people who organised it didn’t come to lead or supervise the protest so as to prevent it from being violent. We can’t allow our youths to be used as cannon folders,’’ they said.