The Presidential and National Assembly elections has come and gone but the dust over its conduct has continued to linger on. The details of the involvement of organisations that participated in the event have started coming to light.
The conduct of the Nigerian Army at the just concluded general elections has been commendable. The soldiers displayed maturity and professionalism as confirmed to this reporter by some civil society organisations and even foreign election monitors. Among those who have commended the army included NGOs from within and outside the country, Civil Society Organisations, foreign election observers, ECOWAS and the European Community Union. They were all happy with the role played by the army during the just concluded Presidential elections.
Some of them have even paid courtesy calls to Gen. Buratai at the army headquarters and commended him and the army for what his soldiers did. They also commended the soldiers for their responsiveness and the way they conducted themselves during the exercise.
The actions of the soldiers could probably be due to the constant admonitions given to them by the Chief of Army Staff (CAOS),Lt. Gen. T.Y. Buratai and his principal officers usually few days to the commencements of national assignments such as the recently concluded general elections and even at ordinary briefings in line with the decision of the army leadership that soldiers must always remain apolitical and professional in discharging their assignments.
Col Sagir Musa, the army spokesman who contributed to this issue had said that all the soldiers involved in such national assignments were professional and proactive in their conducts as they acted within the requirements of the law, rules of engagement and the army’s code of conduct. The army spokesman had some few days ago explained that the soldiers operated professionally and maturedly throughout the duration of the elections across the country despite provocations and even intimidations from some miscreants and hoodlums.
It was precisely because of the way the soldiers conducted their affairs that almost all right thinking people agreed with the view expressed by Col. Sagir Musa that the army acted within legal boundary. As far as this writer is concerned the army leadership has done its job very well and deserves commendation from well meaning Nigerians. The Army is one of the institutions that helped to provide security surveillance during the exercise. The professional way it conducted itself has attracted the attention of some organisations including pro democracy and civil right institutions.
For example, the high level of professionalism and non-partisanship displayed by the army during the just concluded elections received commendations and applause from several of such groups across the country which extolled performances of the soldiers describing their action as patriotic which should be emulated.
One of the groups simply known as Citizens Watch Advocacy (CWAI) said the army displayed a high level of professionalism during the various stages of elections which deserves commendation. The group was further of the view that the soldiers were mature and meticulous even in the face of intimidation by some voters and hoodlums in some parts of the country. This action the group said, clearly demonstrated the soldiers’ high level of professional calling as they were taught by their leaders.
Another pro democracy group, IHAWA, said in Abuja on Wednesday that the conduct of the army security operatives at the elections both before, during and after the coalition of results was in line with the training the soldiers were given by the military leadership before the commencement of the 2019 general elections. My colleagues James Simon and Olatunde Oroye also described the soldiers’ actions as proactive and imaginative.
To me this was commendable and gladdening that in spite of all the observed lapses and provocations the army had throughout the elections kept its distance and neutrality even though it provided the needed security cover as required to all the stake holders quietly. This, according to my colleagues is the civilised way to go about it all and I agree with them. I regard this as a welcome development because it publicly gave the opportunity to the army to showcase its professionalism and neutrality as well as maturity.
Though the elections witnessed localised violence and irregularities in some areas the army kept its head above all these and displayed its professionalism even after it witnessed casualties from Rivers state where it lost one of its senior officers. The soldiers did carry out their assignments professionally till the end of the exercise despite what happened.
Biu sent this from Abuja