Since the end of the military rule in 1999, this is likely to be the sixth quadrennial elections in Nigeria and for some time now there have been troubling threats to elections in Nigeria.
During general elections there are possible threats which presents itself to citizens, threats like snatching ballot boxes, shooting at innocent people, buying votes and using military to intimidate the citizens and at the end of the day it will discourage the citizens from casting their votes.
Now, in our interview with the Deputy Speaker Abia State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Ndukwe Cosmos (PhD) by GRACE CLIFF OBILOR in UMUAHIA
Cosmos spoke about his impression in the forthcoming general elections, He stated clearly that his intention is grilled with mixed feeling in the sense that the 2019 general election will be hazy and gloomy because the Electoral Act is not crystal clear, stating that he is a legislator and he understands the way bills are being read, from the first reading to the final pronouncement and at the end of the day, one man refused to sign it, thereby creating fear in the hearts of the citizens.
Rt. Hon. Cosmos told us that for some months now ,the bill have not been signed and he don’t know what could be the fear of the presidency that he has refused to sign the bill and if the bill is not passed there means we are going with schizophrenic fear to the 2019 election, so majority of Nigerians are calling for a crystal clear election beyond signing the bill, they want their votes to count and once they have a feeling that their vote will count, they will come out and cast their votes.
Rt. Hon. Cosmos talked about the possible threats to the peaceful conduct of the elections, He told us clearly that from the formal states that conducted their elections this 2018 that we can see that a new trend came in which is known as VOTE BUYING, and it is a very big threat, interference like using the military during election is gradually creeping in to the electoral system.
He went ahead to tell us it is an offence for security to carry guns around the units, and that is to say people who are supposed to protect us are now being used to fight us during the election.
He told us firmly that if the military is not removed during the election, 2019 will not be peaceful, taking Osun and Ekiti as case study, the military is a serious threat.
Talking about the state of preparedness of the candidates to accept a freely and transparently conducted election, the Deputy Speaker told us that the campaigns are not what they used to be like the during the past elections, the campaigns are not at its peak, when we have barely few months to the general elections and it looks as if nothing is happening , it doesn’t look as if the flag bearers are preparing for the elections maybe because of the threats and it that does not go down well, because they don’t actually want to stress themselves, mere looking at the nation, Political activities have not kicked off as usual, candidates are not struggling, maybe they are quiet preparing forms they will use to buy vote or something else.
He went ahead to say that if the Electoral Act is being signed maybe the candidates will speak up and get prepared as usual, but for now he is not seeing that usual urge from the candidates.
In his opinion regarding the independence of the Electoral Umpire, He stated clearly that the constitutional positions made it in a way that the INEC have to be independent but the state of the nation now is that sentiments have taken over virtually all the institutions that are supposed to be independence and right now most of the candidates from the 6 Geo-political zone suffer intimidation as a result of this.
Speaking of the trigger points of violence as a consequence of a manipulated or rigged election, Rt. Hon Cosmos mentioned the polling
units as the foundational point because this is where votes are initiated and that is why the New Electoral Act stated that the votes should be recorded and announced in the units immediately, that is to say that the late announcement of results often leads to manipulation and at the end of the day violence.
The Deputy Speaker told us his impression about the poor turnover of the women candidates in the forthcoming election, he told us firmly that Nigerian politics have not come of age democratically, where by husbands feel safe when their wives run along in politics, women are special and unique, moral pictures are adorned in our women and besides our political space is filled with violence, thuggery, rigging and so many others, if the institutions are sure that the peoples votes will count then women would like to come out. He went further to say that women may not like to involve themselves simply because our politics is full of secrecy, and also most people see the Nigerian politics as DIRTY and any woman that dares into it is seen as DIRTY too in other words women tend to stay on their own especially married women, they wouldn’t want to leave their homes to play politics which have been tagged DIRTY , so some women who play politics are wives of politicians or single women because here in Nigeria most women can’t do what it takes in politics.
In conclusion, the Deputy Speaker Abia State House of Assembly said that they are preparing for the next general Elections, hoping that
the Electoral Act will be Signed and also hoping for accurate vote counts and free and fair elections, so that the votes will be calculated freely and Nigerians will sit at home and know the results without fear.
Having heard the opinions of the Deputy Speaker Abia State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Ndukwe Cosmos (PhD) , we will have to say that the
troubling threats to polling are basically the vote buying exercise, result manipulation and the military interferences.
The vote buying exercise took place in Ekiti State and Osun State and at the end of the day the citizens who came out with their PVCs went home angrily because their votes didn’t count, most of them faced embarrassment and humiliation from these armed military just because they came to cast their votes and this have in turn discouraged other citizens because most people have decided to stay at home on the day of the general election in other to be safe from these threats and this is not a good story to be told about this country, the appropriate institutions should make sure that all these threats which took place in the Ekiti, Osun election will not repeat itself in the general elections if not this possible threats will lead to violence which will in turn put innocent citizens at risk.
The military and the security men should always be there to protect the interest and votes of the citizens not the other way round, if our country should continue to live in such manner, then we will be giving the neighboring countries a bad impression about us, equity and fairness should be our watchword.
Finally the president should try as much as possible to sign the Electoral Act for transparency in the forthcoming general elections,
there should be no snatching of ballot boxes, no killing of innocent citizens, no manipulation of results and there should be no interferences by armed military.