Nyako, Shet­tima, Gaidam to INEC: Em­u­late Afghanistan, hold polls in North East

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Hamza Idris, Maiduguri

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.

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