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Don’t Misinterpret President Buhari’s Ballot Box Snatching Comment



Interestingly, I am getting to know more about the impressive, but silent aspects of President Muhammadu Buhari’s life and personage. I have never met him personally, but with his credentials as a retired army officer, and given the military culture, it was safer for me to believe he is rough and unapologetically ruthless.

But I was damn wrong! He is just a leader who is blunt and plain. He hates any brazen act of trampling on laws of the land or decency in conduct.


President Buhari, as Nigeria’s incumbent president is gunning for reelection for another four year term. But he was enraged over INEC’s sudden postponement of the February 16 polls. His party was equally angered and condemned the impromptu shift of elections barely five hours to the commencement of the ballot. I think, the electoral umpire knows better why the decision was taken. We are sad, but what else can anybody do?


When I listened to INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu’s address to the nation on the postponement, I pitied him. From his facial scowls, it was clear to discerning minds that something terribly went wrong. And discontinuing with the ballot as scheduled became inevitable.

Prof Yakubu nicely concealed his anger in his official explanation but political actors and Nigerians did not swallow the excuses lightly.

I may not bother with every view expressed by every Nigerian but at least, we can speak to our conscience and it will certainly prick us in glaring terms that the ballot was compromised even before any vote was cast and our leaders know this, INEC knows it, critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project are aware and Nigerians know everything dubiously contrived affected the ballot in focus.


President Buhari was more disappointed. And so, at the opening session of the national caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, the President, who is not oblivious of what crooked politicians planned in dark chambers, fumed to the extent of revealing that security agents have been directed to be ruthless, especially with people that will snatch ballot boxes.


This innocent comment from President Buhari has provoked partisan outbursts, especially from PDP chieftains and stalwarts. These Nigerians have imputed very funny meanings to the comments which are beyond any reasonable limit of decency.

I understand the intention of antagonistic elements to spite and slight the President in order to diminish his electoral value in the eyes of Nigerians. But in truth and to our conscience, what contents of the presidential statement alludes to an order calling for the killing of Nigerians as propagated by the opposition? There is none! An election rigger is worse than an armed robber. Accepted, we are guided by laws, which presumes every person is innocent until pronounced guilty by a competent court. But why do we think, criminals should be allowed to ply their trade unmolested by security agents?


I do not buy the arguments of the vocal PDP analysts. They have repeatedly said the President has issued a direct order to security agents to kill Nigerians. Why would any decent Nigerian think the best thing to do is to foist a regime of electoral violence on Nigerians, but gets offended when the President ask security agents to ruthlessly handle such miscreants or hoodlums? And why would anybody happily contemplate this absurdity? Is it because the potential culprits know there are elder statesmen and people who would rise up to their defense?


APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has been speaking on Buhari’s presidential statement. He has done what is humanly possible to deflect the misconstrued interpretations. But trust Nigerians! We are more comfortable promoting evil than good. But let me leave the mischief makers and the drugged or incensed partisans with the assurance that President Buhari never wished death on any Nigerian because he wants to continue as Nigeria’s leader.


Let’s get some sense in what Tinubu said on the misinterpretations of the President’s comments. Also, we cannot pretend that elections results were written before the ballot. How else can Nigerians explain the pre-ballot violence, deaths and destructions in some states in Nigeria? Are we canvassing that President Buhari, as Chief Security Officer of the nation, should be soft with such characters so that tomorrow we gladly blame him again for a state of degenerative insecurity in the country? This is not wisdom from any sane mind.


Ikpa is Executive Secretary, Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) and wrote this piece from Abuja.




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