Monday, January 19, 2015


20th January, 2015

As Nigeria approaches the 2015 general elections which will kickstart on 14th February, the horizon remains cloudy as booby traps and mines are being laid on a daily basis in the path of the exercise.      

For instance, the idea of exempting North Eastern Nigeria from the exercise is being muted in certain quarters. Also being contemplated is the possible postponement of the whole general election and setting up an interim government.

Some have allegedly considered a phantom coup to be staged by military elements loyal to the establishment. The academic certificates of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) have also become an issue as the ruling party insists that he must be disqualified. There are also one or two cases challenging the eligibility of the incumbent, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) warns overzealous politicians and all those behind these conspiracies to come back to their senses. We assert that none of the above configurations favours a progressive Nigeria.

Exempting the North East from elections because of the Boko Haram saga will send the wrong signals to the outside world. It will also be interpreted as victory for the insurgents.

Nigeria must not surrender so easily. What we need is the political will to hold elections in the troubled zone and to call the bluff of the trouble makers. Other crisis-ridden areas of the world have done it. Elections have been successfully held in Iraq several times in spite of the prolonged war. Afghanistan and Pakistan have also dared the Taliban and held elections.

People in the North East should not be so callously disenfranchised. Whoever has been basing his chances of victory at the 2015 polls on prolonging crisis in the region must be taught a lesson. The surviving population must be allowed to cast its protest vote.

Postponing this coming election is out of the question. Such postponement will be an unprecedented act of cowardice. Who is afraid of the 2015 polls?  The Federal Government must not renege on its pledge to the Nigerian people. The law of the land must be obeyed. Election is the only universally recognized tool for peaceful change in a democracy.

Those who contemplate or plot a temporary return of the military are building castles in the air. Military rule or intervention is no longer fashionable anywhere in the world. It is even an anachronism in the Nigerian context. Nigerians want change, smooth change via free and fair election.

They are thirsty for the juice of liberty after six years of stagnation, institutionalized corruption, inept leadership and undisguised hatred for certain sections of the population.

MURIC finds the attempt to disqualify General Buhari (rtd) as mean, ludicrous, infantile and wholesomely malicious. This is the general’s fourth coming. Was there any time he contested past elections without being cleared by the electoral body? What is this noise about Buhari’s certificate? Is an army general not on a very high academic pedestal?

Why is the Nigerian Army not clearing the air on this issue? Is the army aware that this can ricochet? Are we ready to impugn the integrity of our army generals after fighting for the country and after serving us in different capacities? This will go beyond Buhari if the Nigerian Army is not forthcoming. What goes round comes around. It will expose to ridicule any general who wants to contest an election in future. Or is this how we should treat our war heroes?

By the way, how can the spokesperson of a political party call an army general an illiterate and the army remain silent? This is a pertinent question. Do we have illiterates among our army generals? The Nigerian Army has a duty to answer this question. Nigerians are waiting.

We put it to the ruling party that it is too desperate. After sixteen years in power, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) propaganda machinery has gone senile. The ruling party is nervous and we will like to recommend an hourly checkup of its blood pressure until the elections are over.

Nigerians deserve a ruling party that has level-headed, principled, tested and trusted men and women on the driving seat. Neither will the attention of the Nigerian electorate be distracted by this pettiness. Nigerians are rooting for integrity and credibility, not for empty certificates.

MURIC is not surprised by the poverty of principle in the ruling party’s campaign camp since the party chose somebody who is still facing corruption charges as its director of media and publicity. A serious political party deserves better.

By the same token, those who are still pursuing court cases seeking to stop President Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election are creating clogs in the wheel of progress. Nigerians must be pragmatic. This is not the time to stop any of the candidates, particularly if we want peace to reign. We should allow sleeping dogs to lie.

In conclusion, MURIC appeals to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remain focused. INEC is doing a good job and the electoral body should be wary of disqualifying any candidate at this stage in order to avoid plunging the nation into crisis.

We call on all stakeholders to stop creating unnecessary impediments in the path of this coming election. We advise the military to remain professional and to resist the temptation to intervene in the political process. The Nigerian Army is also advised to be more vocal on the issue of Buhari’s certificate in order to save other generals (serving or retired) from ridicule.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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