By Chukwudi Nweje / Features Editor
Pastor Tunde Bakare’s call for the postponement of the 2015 general elections as a way to avoiding the imminent crisis that might trail the polls has sparked heated debates.
Bakare, Senior Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, who was Vice-Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2011 presidential election suggested that a two-year transitional government should be put in place to adopt the report of the just-concluded National Conference as a way to avoiding the crisis that might follow the polls.
Speaking during a thanksgiving service marking the end of the week-long ceremony to mark his 60th anniversary, he argued that the current situation in the North-East would not allow proper election in areas affected by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists. He argued that it would be in the best interest of the country to hold the elections at a future date.
He enthused: “With parts of the North under the siege of Boko Haram insurgents in the form of outright territorial control in some cases and guerrilla styled terror attacks in others and with the government failing to bring the situation under control, what is the guarantee that there will indeed be general elections in 2015?
“Even if elections are held successfully in some parts of the country, would results be conclusive without elections in the troubled parts? How would displaced persons cast their votes or are they automatically disenfranchised? How safe would massive campaign rallies be? With politicians and their militant cronies on both sides facing up to one another ahead of the elections and sounding the drumbeats of war, should the elections not go in their respective interests, what would be the aftermath of a general election? We may argue that elections have been successfully held in some states under heavy military presence but let us not forget that we do not hold staggered elections in Nigeria. We are talking about general elections.”
Undoubtedly, the security situation in the North East is very tense. There is also no doubt that some of the about 10, 038, 119 registered voters consisting: Adamawa State- 1,714, 860; Bauchi- 1,835,562; Borno-2,730,368; Gombe-1,266,993; Taraba-1,308,106 and Yobe-1,182,230 going by statics from the 2011 voters’ register may have been displaced.
It is also true that Section 135 (3) of the 1999 Constitution says that “If the Federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the President considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (2) of this section from time to time; but no such extension shall exceed a period of six months at any one time.”
However, the idea of postponing the 2015 general elections is one that Nigerians must tread cautiously on to avoid engendering worse crisis than they are trying to avert.
It could be recalled that in September when the Senate President David Mark said while speaking on a motion entitled: ‘Threat to National Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Nigeria by Insurgents’ that “…there is no question of election; it is not even on the table now. We are in a state of war…” the All Progressives Congress (APC) had accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of scheming to postpone the forthcoming elections.
As a matter of fact, the Boko Haram insurgency had been a subject of contentious debate among Nigeria’s political elite for a long time.
The opposition camps have alleged that the insurgency is part of a larger conspiracy by the PDP to ‘elongate’ the tenure of the incumbent administration, while the PDP on the other hand say it is a ploy by the opposition to destabilise the President Goodluck Jonathan led-administration.
Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) however said the situation on ground does not warrant postponing the elections.
He said “One thing is clear, many of those that are governing us now cannot come back after the general elections and because of that they don’t want the election not to hold. It was actually suggested that the war in the North-East lingered on because some people do not want citizens from that part of the country to vote during the elections because of their likely bulk vote for a particular candidate. No candidate has reasons to be afraid of the forthcoming election if he actually deserves the support of the people.
“Trade and commerce are still going on in these places. We cannot even predict when the insurgency will end, are we asking that elections should be postponed forever? We should not even predict that, nor give it a thought for now until we try and fail. Basically Tunde’s suggestion is unwarranted, unnecessary, it is retrogressive and I believe he is going to withdraw it. It is not one of the indices of good democratic practices that elections should be postponed, suspended or cancelled.”
SOURCE: Daily Independent: