Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed ‘serious doubt’ about the integrity and impartiality of the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) to conduct credible elections in 2019 .
When did he state his doubts?
The former president stated this on Sunday in an open letter titled, “ Point for Concern and Action” released and distributed to journalists at the press conference held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
On INEC’s inability to conduct credible elections
Obasanjo said he doubts the electoral umpire competence because it has shown partiality, and a lack of integrity for him to trust them ahead of February and March elections.
He cited INEC’s role in the Osun state governorship elections as being enough to show that the commission remains incompetent in handing election matters.
“I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election. 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 unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general election, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately contrived, broken or non-working voting machines or card readers, confusion of voters as to their voting stations, inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour the blue-eye political party of INEC because the Commission’s hands will be tied to enable hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment.
The transmission and collation of results are subject to interference, manipulation and meddling. If the INEC’s favourite political party wins with all the above infractions, the result will be conclusively declared and if not, there will be a ‘rerun’, the result of which is known before it is carried out,” he wrote.
Is INEC ready for 2019?
According to the elder statesman, although Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC expressed confidence that the commission is prepared for elections, this cannot be relied upon as “I believe more in action than in words and in past record than in promise.”
“The joke about INEC would seem real. The INEC was asked if the Commission was ready for the election and if it expects the election to be free, fair and credible. The INEC man is reported as saying in response, “we are ready with everything including the results!…”
“A friend of mine who is more credulous and who claims to be close to the Chair of INEC keeps telling me that INEC will retrieve its image and reputation by conducting the coming elections with utmost integrity and impartiality. I am not sure as I believe more in action than in words and in past record than in promise.
Nigerians must defend our democracy- Obasanjo
Obasanjo urged Nigerians to remain vigilant while safeguarding votes and ensuring that democracy is defended.
“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. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the cripple nor catch him unawares. A word is sufficient for the wise. The labour of Nigerian democracy heroes must not be in vain.
“Some men of God would hold President Buhari to his word on free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. I am a realist and I reiterate that I go by track record. Therefore, I am not persuaded by a track record of hollow words, impunity, insensitivity and ‘I-couldn’t-care-less’ attitude, or by the sanctimonious claims of any candidate and his campaign staff. I will only believe what I see. This is a time for vigilance to fight to safeguard our votes and defend our democracy.
“The price of liberty and sustenance of our democracy is eternal vigilance and appropriate reaction to ward off iniquities. We must all be ready to pay that price and not relying on hollow words of callousness. The derailment of Nigerian democracy will be a monumental disaster comparable to the disaster of the Nigerian first military coup,” he said.