Following the dramatic abortion of former US President Bill Clinton’s pre-election event in Nigeria on grounds that his visit could be politicised, and misunderstood as a support for a particular presidential candidate, concerned activists are pilling pressure on President Donald Trump and European leaders.
The activists mostly from Nigeria, are lobbying world leaders to commit to holding President Muhamadu Buhari, and his All Progressives Congress (APC) accountable if the forthcoming general elections beginning this coming Saturday is fraught with rigging and massive violence.
The lobbyists are however, claiming that they are not drumming support for either of the top front liners in the Saturday Presidential and National Assembly polls and instead, want the government in power to provide an enabling environment that will make the votes of every Nigerian to count.
In different presentations at the prestigious National Press Club, in Washington DC and at the Congress, the activists specifically appealed to President Trump to detail his top diplomat to pay attention to pre-elections matters such as the sudden removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, sudden transfers of security chiefs and signs of compromise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), warning that any post- election violence in the country could be very disastrous for the international community.
Although the activists which convened under the aegis of We The People of Nigeria appreciated the efforts of the US diplomats in the country in monitoring and condemning acts that could lead to fraudulent polls, they however, insisted that both the APC presidential candidates, President Buhari and that of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar must be prevailed upon to sign an undertaking to accept the outcome of the polls conducted in a free and fair atmosphere.
In a lead presentation on behalf of the delegation, Dr. Lloyd Ukwu of the Institute of Strategic and Development Studies said the signals of disastrous elections are there for anybody that cared about the continued existence of Nigeria to worry about.
Ukwu who practices law both in Washington DC and Nigeria said Nigerians are shocked and becoming helpless with the actions of INEC whom he said ‘’has been radically staffed with individuals whose neutrality has been questioned.’’
‘’Nigerians have noted the actions and the unusual role of the INEC, the police and the army in previous elections as recently as 2018. Nigerians have taken note of the lack of respect and disregard for the rule of law, and with impunity.
‘’Nigerians have observed the failure of the Executive branch to show the understanding of the doctrine of the separation of powers as the Legislative branch is regularly being violated and abused. Lawmakers are often arrested, manhandled and locked up without bail,” Ukwu said at the National Press Club event moderated by former Associate Deputy US Attorney General during the Reagan administration, Bruce Fein.
He claimed that regular utterances by the ruling party and the executive branch indicated that “the elections are already over and announcing of the results is the only thing that is left.”
Supporting the thesis that the forthcoming general elections will not be free and fair, Ms. Annkio Brigs, a human and environmental rights activist from the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s polluted oil and gas region, said the ploy by APC to put the fight against corruption as the key narrative that should determine who Nigerians should vote for is deceitful, insisting core critical issues such as ethnic cleansing and developmental issues are pushed to the back burner.
She said the coming elections presented fears of a resurgent terrorism and religious fanaticism, explaining that with her past experiences in monitoring Nigeria’s elections there were sad indicators that the current leadership will not be willing to relinquish power if they lose the elections. “It’s not a do or die affair that somebody must return for a second term,” she told the audience comprising Nigerians and foreigners who view Nigeria’s elections as very critical to peace in Africa.
‘’If we have a crisis in Nigeria with over 200 million people, then it would have devastating effects on the continent’’, she further claimed, insisting that We The People of Nigeria is a non-partisan platform that is seeking the conduct of credible elections that will be acceptable by international standards.
In separate presentation at the Capitol Hill before Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey who has shown considerable interest in Nigeria’s elections, Dr. Salamatu Machunga and Chair lady of the Middle Belt Forum wondered how a free and fair polls would be conducted in the country when ethnic nationalities that make up the Middle Belt had been driven away from their ancestral homeland by Fulani herdsmen with little or no concerns by the ruling party.
She said more people are driven by fear to run to camps set up for internally displaced persons in the zone as the herdsmen continue to launch attacks, and regretted that such people would be disenfranchised as there are no plans to ensure that they can vote during the forthcoming polls.
The team took similar messages to the United Kingdom and the European Parliament, in Brussels.