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CAN THIS GOVERNMENT CONDUCT FREE AND FAIR POLL IN 2019?

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CAN THIS GOVERNMENT CONDUCT FREE AND FAIR POLL IN 2019?

For the anxious nation and her people waiting for all-important elections next year, there is everything to worry about the activities and the level of preparation for Nigeria’s biggest political event. This view is largely anchored on some critical factors.

First is the fact that the funds needed to finance the General Elections have not yet been appropriated by the National Assembly, let alone released to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make necessary material and logistic arrangements for the elections.

With about five months to the elections, when will INEC set up relevant system to deal with the gamut of issues connected with security, local and international observer missions, as well as participation of members of the civil society and media organisations?

The outcomes of the recent gubernatorial elections and National Assembly by-elections conducted in some states of the federation present an ominous sign that free, fair and credible polls in the 2019 General Elections is a distant, if not an infinite illusion. From by-elections in Bauchi, Katsina, Kogi to other states and more recently, the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun, the stories are almost the same. Worst still, the nation is witnessing the flagrant abuse of internal democracy in the political party management by politicians and their agents.

We recall that President Muhammadu Buhari has promised Nigerians and members of the international community that he would conduct free, fair and credible elections. For instance, in late August this year, the president assured the visiting UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, of his commitment to conducting free, fair and credible elections in 2019. Do the outcomes of the recently conducted gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun reflect that promise he made?

President Buhari told May that, “I assure you that I’m all out for free, fair and credible elections. I’m very pleased that my party is doing very well. The High Commissioner will brief you more. The recent successes in polls in Katsina, Bauchi, and Kogi have boosted our morale greatly,” he said. Is this statement really reflective of the reality or sincerity expected of a famed reputable president?

Obviously, the present government lacks political will to deliver on its promise of free, fair and credible elections in 2019. For instance, looking at the outcomes of some of the results, nothing has changed in the positive in the way we conduct elections in the past as vehemently condemned by the present government. They were characterised by ballot snatchings, intimidation and beatings of voters without consequences from the security agents and INEC officials.

Where then is the proof of the promise of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria by the president? We therefore challenge this government to prove itself convincingly by creating enabling atmosphere that is fair to all, both the ruling party and members of the opposition. Anything below this will spell doom for 2019 elections.

QUOTE

The president recently assured the visiting UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, of his commitment to conducting free, fair and credible elections in 2019. Do the outcomes of the recently conducted gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun reflect that promise he made?

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