Nyako, Shettima, Gaidam to INEC: Emulate Afghanistan, hold polls in North East
The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] should take a cue from Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission which courageously held the country’s presidential and provincial elections last Saturday despite strong threats from Taliban insurgents, governors of the three North Eastern states which are under emergency rule urged yesterday.
Governors Kashim Shettima of Borno, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa also said there is absolutely no reason to even contemplate an extension of the state of emergency in any of the three states.
The governors issued a joint statement through their spokesmen; Ahmad Sajoh for Nyako, Abdullahi Bego for Gaidam and Isa Gusau for Shettima. They said: “Afghanistan and its people were celebrated worldwide for liberating themselves from the scourge of fear and thereby sending a strong signal that no amount of threat would deny them from choosing their leaders through democratic processes. This is the kind of courage expected of genuine patriots.”
They also said: “Our Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] should please learn from the landmark election that took place in Afghanistan at the weekend during which election officials took the bold step of going on to conduct election in spite of threats by the Taliban to send the country into extinction if the elections were held. The central government in Afghanistan provided adequate security for the conduct of the poles. It was also reported that there was a 53 percent voter turnout during the elections and it went on peacefully in most places. We all know that the unfortunate insurgency affecting this country has a similar attribute to the Taliban doctrine in Afghanistan even though ours is now assuming a very complicated character. INEC should as a matter of counter insurgency approach ensure that no part of Nigeria is excluded from the 2015 elections on account of threats. Suspending elections on account of threats by insurgents and other sundry social miscreants would amount to succumbing to their doctrine and conceding victory on the part of Nigeria.”
The governors added: “Should INEC go ahead with its initially considered exclusion of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States from the 2015 elections, all that criminal gangs need to do is to extend the attacks to other parts of Nigeria and have more places excluded from future elections. This will then imply that crime and criminality will be victorious in suspending constitutional democracy in Nigeria. We wish to state with a lot of emphasis that no human life is worth any election whether at the presidential, governorship, national or state assembly, chairmanship or councillorship level. That is our stand and it is our commitment. However, it is also the inalienable right of citizens to elect their leaders in a democracy. To that extent, it also becomes an important obligation of the federal government to protect all citizens while they do so. INEC should therefore work with the federal government to make adequate security preparations, if need be, a special arrangement that will ensure smooth conduct of the election as happened in Afghanistan which has been battling with experiences worse than the combination of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States. The special arrangement is to curtail possible threats that may specifically aim at disrupting the elections. We are however hopeful that peace will continue to grow in the states and stability will be achieved.”
Regarding emergency rule in the three states which will lapse on April 19, the governors said: “It must be noted that a counter insurgency strategy that lasted one year without achieving the desired result requires a redefinition rather than extension. The federal government should always remember that it has the obligation of protecting the lives and property of all Nigerians in all parts of the country without necessarily putting them under any special condition. It has the option of putting a security structure in place that can continue and intensify ongoing counter insurgency operations without an extension of emergency rule.
“After all, we had the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in place in some states with full military activities prior to the declaration of emergency. We have for many years also had in place, similar JTF in the Niger Delta to combat militancy and kidnapping. We have had same in the South-east to fight armed robbery, we have a Special Task Force in Plateau State combating the crisis in parts of the state without necessarily putting them under emergency rule. Besides, the Nigerian Army had in 2013 created new divisions and brigades in Borno State as permanent military establishments. We hold that with continued motivation and intensified deployment of military resources, the crisis will be overcome”, they said. The governors then urged citizens in the respective states and other Nigerians to continue to intensify prayers for the return of peace.
“We call on our security agencies to remain resolute and patriotic. We salute the sacrifices of fallen heroes among them and among our civilians who died in the crisis. We are all very committed and determined to continue to work with security agencies and all other stakeholders in our committed search for lasting peace in our three states”, they added.