… Doubts INEC’s neutrality in forthcoming general elections
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing him of not only failing in all aspects of governance but also plotting to rig the coming election.
The former president said Buhari’s alleged desperation to remain in power despite his mental and physical incapacitation reminds him of the era of a former military dictator, Sani Abacha.
Obasanjo stated this in his 16-page address titled: Points for Concern and Action, given to journalists at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta the Ogun state capital.
In the statement, Obasanjo called on Nigerians to resist any plot to rig the election, saying the electorates should make good use of their permanent voters’ card to vote out the incumbent administration that has also failed to manage the country’s security problem.
He said if Nigerians fail to take a definitive step by voting President Buhari out of power in next month’s general election, Boko Haram and its Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) may soon take over the entire West African region and make life unsafe for all.
Obasanjo also expressed worries over the integrity of the present Independent National Electoral Commission, saying, Nigerians should be prepared for the worst after citing Osun election as an instance.
Below are highlights of the letter:
Question Mark On INEC’s Integrity
“I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election,” he wrote.
“And if the INEC is willing, will the ruling party and government allow it? From what we saw and knew about Osun State gubernatorial election, what was conclusive was declared inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary.
“The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid and all men and women of goodwill and believers in democracy must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass that the Commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”
‘Buhari’s Government Irredeemable’
Obasanjo castigated Buhari over his anti-corruption war, saying he tacitly condones corrupt acts among his officials while taking swift action against members of the opposition.
“It is no use, at this juncture, to keep lamenting about the failure, incompetence, divisiveness, nepotism, encouragement and condonation of corruption by Buhari administration as there is neither redeeming feature nor personality to salvage the situation within that hierarchy. You cannot give what you don’t have.
“Even when figures, facts and statistics are made clear to Buhari, he keeps repeating what is untrue, either because he cannot understand or for mischief purposes and that places him on the level of a pathological liar. He believes he can get away with impunity and deceit as he seems to have done on many occasions in the past” he wrote.
Trader Moni Is ‘Idiotic’
Commenting on the TraderMoni initiative of the federal government, Obasanjo said Osinbajo must have gone for “if you can’t beat them, join them”.
He described the program as “out rightly idiotic”, adding that there is a sinister motive behind it.
“Osinbajo has shown the human weakness and proved the saying that the corruption of the best is the worst form of corruption. His explanation that it was their government program can only be construed to be very shallow and lopsided, if not an out rightly idiotic program.
“What is the connection between taking the number of PVC (Permanent Voters Card) of the recipient of the N10,000 doled out to ‘traders’ and the forthcoming election? There is something sinister about it, and Professor Osinbajo, of all people, should know that,” he said.
Amina Zakari Should Step Down
Obasanjo advised Amina Zakari, national commissioner at INEC, to step aside, saying “otherwise, it will be difficult to deny the rumour that she is being assigned to Collation Centre for one duty only – to write out figures that are not results of the voting in the field on fake results sheets without watermark or on genuine results sheets which she will have access to as a Commissioner.
“Amina Zakari has become too controversial a figure to be able to give assurance of free, fair and credible election for INEC. President Buhari and her family have declared that there is no blood relationship but there is relationship through marriage and that is more than enough for the good lady to step aside.
“Madam Amina Zakari should, in honour, stay out and not be seen as a source of contamination of the election.”
On Onoghen: ‘No Stone Left Unturned To Rig Buhari In’
Obasanjo claimed that there is a connection between the trial of Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), and the alleged plan of Buhari to rig the election.
Onnoghen is facing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged false declaration of assets.
“President Buhari and his hatchet men in the coming election think that the judiciary must be primed in their favour. Hence, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has been harassed and prosecuted for non-declaration of his assets without following the Constitution and the law, just to make him conform or set him aside for a Buhari man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in,” he said.
Buhari Not In Charge
Reacting to Osinbajo’s statement that Buhari was not aware of plans to arraign Onnoghen, Obasanjo said it shows that the president is not in charge of the government, adding that no Nigerian is safe or secure under this administration.
“But if that can happen to the Chief Justice of the Federation, the fifth man in the hierarchy of government, without the knowledge let alone the approval of the President, then it speaks for the type of government we have which means the President is not in charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take anything for granted. We are all unsafe and insecure under such an administration. And enough of it!
“Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time,” he said.
Like Abacha, Like Buhari
Obasanjo accused Buhari of “mad desperation”, likening his government to the dictatorial era of Abacha.
He accused the president of using security agencies to intimidate the opposition, while calling on Nigerians to “rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha.”
“His scheme bears eloquent testimony to this road similar to Abacha whom he has praised to high heavens and as an arch-supporter and beneficiary from Abacha, he has seen nothing wrong done by him. It is clear from all indications that Buhari is putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha.
“Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the Judiciary to cow them to submission.
“Today, another Abacha Era is here. The security institutions are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our fledgling democracy,” he wrote.
Buhari Did Well With IGP Change
Obasanjo said he must give credit to Buhari for listening to public outcry and appointing a new Inspector-General of Police.
“I personally commend the President for yielding to popular outcry to let the former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, go when he is due as he had the track record and history of being assigned to rig elections for the incumbent.
“It was alleged that he was sent to Kano for that purpose in 2015. He was already deploying his Commissioners of Police on similar mission before his exit,” he said.
No Fear Of Intimidation
Obasanjo said despite threats to probe and arrest him, he will not bow to intimidation.
“Here again, I have been threatened with arrest and extermination but I will not succumb to intimidation or threats.
“Maybe I should remind those who are using probe as a threat that I have been probed four times by EFCC, ICPC, House of Representatives and the Senate and Buhari has access to reports of these probes.
“But I have also challenged Buhari and the criminals around him to set up a probe on the same allegations and I will face such probe in public.
“But I know that these criminals cannot withstand a Police inquiry let alone clinical probe on the past public offices they held,” he said.