The fear of potential sabotage of the electoral process was what led to the comments by President Muhammadu Buhari ordering the security operatives “to be ruthless” to anyone who harbours intentions of undermining our nascent democracy via ballot box snatching, voters’ intimidation et al.
As usual, this declaration generation considerable bedlam on various social media platforms and media publications with some Nigerians praising the president’s decision of trying to restore some sanity within the system whilst others vilified him by comparing his to a bloodthirsty despot.
Before any further dissection, let us consider the part of the statement which elicited the furore from the populace.
Buhari said: “I do not expect anybody to make any disturbance. I have briefed the law enforcement agencies and the military to identify hotspots, flashpoints; they should be prepared to move.
They too would have made their own arrangements as possible and resources provided as much as the country can afford it.
“Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb it (elections), maybe that would be the last unlawful action he would take. I have directed the police and the military to be ruthless.
“We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections. I want Nigerians to be respected, let them vote whoever they want across the parties. I’m not afraid.
“As you said, I have gone round all the 36 states and Abuja. I think I have got enough support across the country.
“I am going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system, he would do it at the expense of his own life.”
Watch the video below:
I find it farcical that a lot of these doom-and-gloom rumour mongers conveniently left out the part where the president talked about “want Nigerians to be respected.”
It is no secret that a huge percentage of the voting populace doesn’t exercise their franchise due to the threat on their lives by various thugs employed by politicians who pressure them to sell their votes or snatch ballot boxes whilst brandishing weaponry, sometimes with the police helpless to quell the situation.
Now, Buhari is reiterating the point that he wants the police and the military “to be ruthless” on these miscreants because he doesn’t want to be blamed for a sabotaged exercise whilst wanting to assure Nigeria of their safety.
However, his critics are having none of that with a lot of them saying the majority of the security operatives may take advantage of the situation to bully and/or kill innocent Nigerians which is a legitimate concern as evidenced by the unfortunate incident that happened some days ago between a couple of operatives of the Nigerian Customs Services and some commuters along the Benin-Asaba expressway which culminated in the death of a passenger shot by one of the officials.
Reports of extra-judicial killings by the men supposed to protect the populace have become so rife that people don’t even flinch whenever another report emerges.
Just another statistic.
This is derived due to the glaring lack of accountability in our system which Buhari is trying to redress albeit, I don’t necessarily agree with his utterance which lacked the requisite tact needed in an already-charged political landscape.
Nevertheless, methinks in order to protect our electoral process, hard decisions have to be made and if flushing out these miscreants is the price to pay, so be it.
Some political commentators are even of the opinion that any erring party is entitled to a fair hearing based on the dictates of the law but the thing about law is its interpretation based on the interests involved.
However, an excerpt from that portion of the Electoral Law goes, “Security agents on election duty shall take necessary measures to prevent violence or any activity that can threaten to disrupt the elections.”
The latent mendacity of these paid trumpeters won’t let them agree that to perfect any system/process, hard decisions and sacrifices have to be made.
It is a classic catch-22.