The orchestrated postponement of the Feb 14 and 28th elections which was announced by the chairman of INEC on Saturday 7th Feb 2015 did not actually come as a surprise to many Nigerians. Some keen observers of the lackadaisical manner the Jonathan administration has been handling the insurgency in the North East actually suspected that the crisis in that zone may be used as a trump card by the PDP government in a tight electoral contest to frustrate the democratic process. More than at any time in its 16 – year history of uninterrupted control of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the PDP has really been boxed into a tight corner by the populist APC and was definitely facing the killing blow when it scampered for the security card to breathe some fresh air.
I say the postponement of the elections was orchestrated because of the coincidence between the release of the barefaced and thoughtless threat in an advertorial by the antiquated ethno- regional body of octogenarians known to the media as Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly on the one – hand, and the issuance of the incredible statement by the National Security Adviser and the service chiefs on the other, that the armed forces cannot provide security cover for the Feb. 14th presidential election and therefore directly calling for its suspension (Weekly Trust, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, front page and centre spread pp. B and C). Although the thrust of SNPA Advertorial was couched in ultra – Southern Nigerian Jingoism, harping on the alleged plot by Northern Elders Forum in concert with the INEC to enthrone a northerner as the president of Nigeria in 2015, the kernel of their objective is actually to pressurise the Government and its agencies to postpone the election in order to allow the PDP and their candidate, Ebele Jonathan, to re-strategise and stage a better electoral performance to guarantee his victory in the subsequent election that may be held.
Having tried in vain various options to undermine the character and integrity of the APC candidate, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, the SNPA and their fellow travellers like the Asari Dokubos, Tompolos, Fani Kayodes and other infamous parochial ethnic champions of the Niger-Delta, have now resorted to attacking the main electoral institution, i.e INEC, in order to undermine its neutrality and focus. The infantile and derogatory language used to smear the character of the chairman of INEC Prof. Attahiru Jega, by virtue of his socio-cultural background smacks of neo-barbarism of the crudest kind and an evidence that the perpetrators have run short of ideas, reason and rationality.
On the contention that the PDP led Federal Government appears to have been nurturing the Boko-Haram in order to perpetuate crisis in the North-East and use it as an excuse for postponing the election, a little more can be said. Jonathan himself has said on several occasions during his nationwide campaign rallies that people have been wrongly accusing him and his government of being the sponsors of Boko-Haram. This allegation certainly has to do with the issue of perception and the body language of the President, his government and its agencies. Is it conceivable that Nigeria, with a standing army and other security agencies numbering over 400,000 strong, can be held to ransom by a motley band of untrained pseudo-religionists for over 5 years under whatever disguise-to wit poverty of arms, low morale and corrupt mode of recruitment of the soldiers resulting in the enlisting of ‘cowards’ through godfatherism and nepotism? More surprisingly still, this kind of soldiery whose performance in battle was shamefully characterised either by being perpetually on the defensive or on the run on any encounter with the insurgents, can be tolerated for so long until small countries like Chad, Niger, Cameroons and Benin have come to the rescue!
To crown all this surprises, the Federal Government under Jonathan who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, did not bother to investigate the causes of the paralysis in the Armed Forces in the country even when a former Chief of Staff of the army, namely Gen Ihejerika, and the former Governor of Borno state, namely Ali Modu Sheriff, were accuse by Rev. Dr Davis of Canada that they were the actual sponsors of Boko-Haram. In fact the DSS and the Presidency exonerated Gen Ihejerika outright and only promised to investigate Modu Sheriff. However, soon after this statement Modu Sheriff was seen hobnobbing with President Jonathan in Njamina, the capital of Chad and in Aso Rock and up till now nobody has revisited the case again.
Gen. Ihejerika’s culpability can be swept aside only after establishing why throughout his tenure of over 2 years he could not re-equip the army with state of the art armaments to match or even overwhelm the Boko-Haram in spite of the unprecedented trillions of naira that have been voted for the armed forces between 2012 & 2014 specifically in order to tackle the insurgency and other security exigencies of the country like cattle rustling and robberies which have virtually crippled the economy of Northern Nigeria. The question most frequently being asked by Nigerians is whether or not Gen Ihejerikas’ refusal to properly arm the Nigerian Army to better confront Boko Haram was part of a grand strategy to stall the suppression of the insurgency up to the time of elections like now and use it as a security bogey for not holding elections in the North- East which is a strong hold of the opposition, or as has now happened pretend that all the soldiers of Nigeria are to be deployed to the North-East and hence will not be available for electoral assignments anywhere in the country?
There is no doubt that the unfolding political drama relating to the 2015 elections in Nigeria lends much credence to the worst fears of discerning observers and activists who have all along been suspecting that the ostensible inability of the Nigerian army to defeat and neutralise Boko-Haram up to the eve of the elections might mean something that is kept close to the chest of the PDP government under Jonathan. What is certain, however, is that the postponement of the Feb 14 elections will not save the PDP government from disgrace at the polls, come March 28 and April 11 2015.