Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed fears over the readiness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
Obasanjo made this known in a statement he issued on Sunday titled: “Points for Concern and Action” made available to newsmen in Abeokuta.
“I am concerned as a democrat who believes that with faithful and diligent practice of democracy, we can get over most of our political problems and move steadfastly and sure footedly on the course of stability, unity of purpose, socio-economic growth and progress for all.
”Democracy becomes a sham if election are carried out by people who should be impartial and neutral umpires, but who show no integrity, acting with blatant partiality, duplicity and imbecility.
”For all democrats and those carrying out the process of election, there must be the recliner that must not be crossed in tactics and practices of democracy.
”I personally have serious doubts about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election,” Obasanjo stated.
The former head of state added that the unnecessary rerun of Osun state gubernatorial elections which was conclusive but declared inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general elections, 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. I know that I am not alone in being sceptical about the integrity of INEC and its ability to act creditably and above board.
”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”, God save Nigeria.
”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. The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid and 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.
”I am a not persuaded by a track record of hollow words, impunity, insensitivity and I couldn’t careless 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 safe guard our votes and defend our democracy. The price of liberty and sustenance of our democracy is eternal vigilance and appropriate reaction toward off iniquities.”
Obasanjo charged that ”we all must be ready to pay the price and not to rely on hollow words of callousness.
”We should not allow disaster to happen not allow affront lying low.
”The international community who played an admirable role in warning INEC, of course, to no avail on the Osun state gubernatorial elections and who have been warning all political parties must on this occasion give more serious warning, send more people to the field to observe and work out punitive measures against INEC and security officials especially the police and politicians who stand to gain from INEC’s misconduct, which is obviously encouraged by the executive arm of government and who must be held responsible for the violence that will follow,” he stated.