We have had recourse to alert Nigerians earlier yesterday of our observations and reports that reached us from across the nation on the shoddy handling by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of their early Election Day activities. We talked of the dangers it posed to the entire process and its outcomes if nothing was done timely and wondered why that should be so given the huge resources invested in the Commission towards this election. We called for urgent action by the Commission and key national stakeholders to ensure that we have free, fair, and credible elections.
Unfortunately, the situation rather than getting better got worse as the day went on with heart wrenching reports from across the nation of vile activities of individuals associated with some Parties and utter collusion of INEC officials and Security agencies to compromise the Election and subvert the will of the people.
Using of thugs in Rivers state and in Lagos to mete out violence and intimidate voters in these states run counter to the tenets and practice of Democracy. The case of the now dishonourable member of the federal house of representatives from Rivers state captured on tape calling for the killing of certain people is not only abhorrent but is a recipe for further violence in our Polity. The threats as captured of Mc Oluomo of the Parks and Gardens in Lagos state warning certain voters to stay away from the Polling centres across the state violates decency and negates the principle of democratic engagement.
The bloodlettings, harassment, Ballot box snatching and wilful destruction of election materials especially in these two states even in the presence of members of the Security agencies and INEC officials cannot be interpreted any other way except that of collusion. It calls for urgent investigation and action to reassure the people of their safety as the election runs its course.
The inability of INEC to prevent the recurrence in this election of the ills of past elections speaks volume of its ill-preparedness for this election as can be demonstrated in the late arrivals of critical election materials to the Polling Units and the almost deliberate tampering of the BVAS in many Polling Units including the outright refusal of its operatives to upload results from the BVAS to the INEC Servers in total violation of the Rule of the election and INEC’s own election guidelines.
We are also alarmed of the activities of the Lagos state Resident Election Commissioner (REC) who may never have hidden his inclinations and dispositions to compromise this election in Lagos state before now and who from information received may currently presiding over the cooking of election results contrary to the choice of voters at the various Polling units across the state. If this is true, that may explain why Polling Unit officers were reluctant to transmit the BVAS reports for the presidential elections to the official INEC servers.
This is completely unacceptable, and we want INEC to ensure that any cooked result from any REC is not only rejected but the offenders be made to face the full weight of the Law.
INEC must understand that not uploading the results to its server expeditiously as expected creates an avoidable crisis of confidence and imperils the entire process. We continue to express our deep concerns over the apparent manipulation of results in Lagos and Rivers states and demand that the real results as captured by the BVAS be uploaded without fail.
We feel embarrassed on the explanation of INEC that materials arrived late in some areas because of the distance between the localities and the storage centres. We know that Polling Units located very close to such centres were also heavily affected by INEC’s tardiness and apparent refusal to make them available as required.
We demand that INEC investigate the activities of one of its officials in the ICT department who may have been responsible for technically jamming the airwaves, making it difficult for BVAS results to be transmitted to the servers He was a former commissioner in Lagos State, and his name is Femi Odubuyi.
It is important to restate that the beauty of democracy is in its participatory transparency, which builds a belief amongst the people and thus deepens the trust and confidence of the citizenry in its outcomes. When actions that negate these principles are allowed to fester then, this bond that keeps the people cohering is broken and may lead to social anomie.
A country like ours must deliberately build and cultivate these fine tenets so that all the tears and wears may be repaired, encouraging national healing. What we therefore see may be a conscious attempt to undermine our nation and unleash further social crisis on a nation that is already tottering and on the verge of implosion.
The NLC feels compelled to warn INEC and the security agencies of the dangers of subverting the sovereign will. They are the umpire in this election and must be seen as above board and acting within the ambits of the Law and its Guidelines. The deliberate frustration of the BVAS remains unacceptable, and any result outside of what is transmitted or contained in it is not acceptable to Nigerians.
NLC calls on all Nigerian workers and citizens to be at alert to protect our nation from the hands of those who have foisted the current suffering on us and now clearly wants to subvert our collective will as expressed in this election cycle. It is our civic responsibility to protect democracy and indeed our nation.
We call on the military and the Police to ensure the sanctity of the ballot and protect the lives of the citizenry who they swore to protect with their arms. This is not only their constitutional duties but also their moral obligations. We call on them to live up to this challenge and protect the process as enshrined in our statutes.
It is on this note that we call on the President of the Federal Republic, His Excellency Muhammed Buhari, to rise to the occasion and call the electoral umpire (INEC) to order. The President ought to seize the redemptive power in this situation and demand that INEC return to the Rule book for election conduct. It is only by doing this that he will reassure Nigerians of his innocence in this unfolding drama.
A nation at the precipice like ours cannot be stoking fires in its house filled with dry straws. INEC should not be the one that will strike the match. Our worry is that when a peoples will are subverted, they may be forced to take laws into their hands and the stage seem to have been set for such conflagration and all hands should be on deck to avert it. INEC may be doing more harm than SARS to our people if it continues on this present trajectory.
Once again, we warn that only an outcome that is adjudged by the people to be a full expression of their sovereign will can guarantee acceptance and peace. We must, therefore, in pursuit of these, ensure that INEC stops this collusion and subversion across the country to deliver fair, credible, and acceptable outcomes for this election.
We warn INEC and others not to allow this election to degenerate into a national security crisis. This is avoidable, and it is only by allowing the sovereign to prevail that we can guarantee national peace. The belief that it is going to be business as usual should be discountenanced as the tension since after the casting of votes should be enough signal to anybody planning a heist of the vote. It is crucial that INEC samples the pulse of the people out there before embarking on any action. We will surely not keep quiet!
Nigerian citizens have spoken through their votes yesterday. INEC is a repository of their voices and conscience. It must give it free reign and expression! Suppressing it will amount to subversion! Subverting it poses a serious danger not only to our democracy but to our nation! The next call belongs to INEC, and we await its action. It is either it sabotages our people and betrays the nation or it stands with the people! Anything short of announcing the result that reflects the true will of the people subverts the nation and will be resisted by the people.
Comrade Joe Ajaero
President of NLC
26TH OF FEBRUARY, 2023