The Ekiti and Osun elections heists marked glooming sports on the
nation's map of liberal democracy as practised in saner society. It
has come to the open after linked tape of how military were used to
rig Ekiti election that Nigerians who were alarmed at the Ekiti and
Osun elections invested with soldiers, police, DSS Civil Defence
Corps, Niger Delta militant were not alarmists as claimed by the
president and the PDP. Nigerian is a symptomatic of a militarised
state that reflects a broader mindset on the part of the government.
International Communities, Civil Rights Groups, and media outlets have
expressed concerned about the militarized role of the military in a
democratic society, and even the Department of Justice has raised
concerns about how to deal with the brutal force of the military
toward unarmed citizens. Taking the long view, I can't agree less that
the militarised army is a reflection of the evolution of government
toward a police state model.
Although, the nation has witnessed brutal repression of political
opponents since the Fourth Republic, which was deeply rooted in former
President Olusegun Obasanjo's government, but this phenomenon evolved
gradually after 2011 presidential election which led to the death of
many. Militarised of the nation's politics reflects the convergence of
hostile and desperate political groupings and the policy of the
government at the centre which has been striving to remain in power
for a hundred years. Now, its new found fang has been to eliminate
"potential political enemies as terrorists”.
It's interesting to know that in essence the justice system has
indicted the military, police DSS and their bloodcurdling cousins in a
lawsuit brought before it in Kano by a group of concerned Nigerians.
It's interesting because the judgement came at a time the entire
justice system was stacked against political opponents or those
perceived to be the enemies of the president or his political party.
The drawbacks of the military naivety has been exposed which
misconstrues faithful service to the nation and its institutional
structures, as the actual service to the government at the centre.
The crises that attended both Ekiti and Osun Gubernatorial elections
should provoke protests from Nigerians, thereby prompting altruistic
reform in our electoral body, its independence, and of course, toward
attainment of free and fair election; devoid of manipulation of any
kind. Mr Jonathan's heavy-handed government has consistently used the
state apparatus to suppress dissenting voices, break up protesting
groups violently more than his predecessors.
The goring scene in Ekiti, where the police shot an opposition
protesting youth to death, where the military threatened to shoot
Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole, both governors of the opposition
party and others sympathetic to their cause is still fresh in our
minds. The incident of Ayo Fayose, as the Governor-in-waiting of
Ekiiti ordering the merciless beating of judges handling his
eligibility case in Ado-Ekiti High Court has not dissipated.
Mr Jonathan can resort to engaging military hostility, given the
history of his failed government because under his watchful eye the
state has crushed opposition elements or co-opted their followers in
some manner that invariably includes superficial reforms. Nigerians
didn't hold much hope for institutional change under President
Jonathan with the culture of militarised elections in Nigeria. The
subtle mass protests that attended Ekiti Governorship election are not
just about the frozen institutional structure steeped in military and
police-state methods. It was obviously created by the PDP government.
The Civil Rights Groups actually came short of staving off the
negative effects of military deployment in an election and the harm's
way such military engagement puts the nation and its toddling
democracy. Such protests should have be vehemently design to address
social issues, election manipulation and violence, among others,
regarding social justice.
It is true that protests movements throughout Nigerian history have
failed to change the status quo and there is no reason to be
optimistic that the ones which led to the judgement in Kano court a
few weeks ago will amount to anything. Nigerians are not in high
spirit that their president will order the implementation of the court
judgement. Neither do they expect a revolution if the Presidency used
the military and other security apparatus to intimidate, manipulate
and ultimately suppress Nigerians voices in the coming 2015
The INEC chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega has in the past faulted the
deployment of soldiers, hooded security men during Ekiti and Osun
elections, describing it as abhorrent in a democracy. Beside, he spoke
of how an attempt to rig the Ogun State governorship failed.
Describing the trend as “worrisome, he said masked men would not be
allowed for next year’s general elections", as he also accused the
security men deployed in Osun State of being “overzealous”. Department
of State Security (DSS) spokesperson Marylyn Ogar admitted that some
of the DSS men deployed for the election wore hoods.
There may not be sporadic uprisings in urban areas in Nigeria that
will dethrone President Goodluck Jonathan over night but there will be
popular protests that will continue for different reasons, all of them
revolving around the issue of absence of social justice and popular
democracy. However, the cumulative effect of the protests that is to
come, if the military lend itself to wrongful uses, as it were in
2011, will lead to mass demonstrations with very serious consequences
on the unity of the country.
When the lives of the people are stagnated and the prospects of their
children’s lives look very bleak, when they realize that society is
becoming increasingly unjust for more and more people, and not just
the very ordinary people and poor minorities, it is very likely that a
segment of the more radical of them will take to the streets and
others will follow. This is the danger militarised elections could
bring, and had brought to many Third World Country.
Ikhide, a Public Affairs analyst writes in from Lagos, Nigeria.
Follow me twitter @ErasmusIkhide