Written by Ibraheem Musa:
The first priority of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan is to conclude the electoral reform programme and ensure that a credible Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) is put in place because government will just be wasting time if the next election is not free and fair, retired General Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday.
General Buhari who spoke in Kaduna when members of the Unity Forum paid him a courtesy visit yesterday also said he had a feeling that Nigerians would not accept flawed elections in 2011.
“This government will have to go by May next year, one way or the other. So, in fact, it is even more in their own interest to organise proper election so that they can go out or remain gracefully”, he said.
The former ANPP presidential candidate reiterated that unless there is free and fair election, “I don’t think we will be able to stabilise the polity, not to talk of the country”. He recalled what he told the National Assembly when he went under the auspices of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) that the bane of the nation’s problem was the elite’s failure to lead the country.
Buhari criticised INEC on the Anambra gubernatorial election, saying, “If INEC cannot organise election in one state, how do we expect INEC to organise election in 36 states and Abuja?”. Buhari noted that the PDP Anambra primaries were characterised by rancour until a “so called” winner emerged, adding that one of the groups was so upset that they adducted the father of the said winner. According to him, the voters’ register that was used in the last election was so jumbled up that the register of Funtua town in Katsina State was taken to some local governments in Anambra State. “At this stage of development, I think this is unacceptable”, he said, adding that the first priority of the government should be to effect the electoral reform and make sure that there is a credible electoral umpire that can organise elections.
On the constitutional impasse, Buhari said there was no problem about succession in the constitution and it would be wrong for anyone to have introduced extra constitutional measures to resolve the issue. According to him, some patch work was done for political expediency but “instead of stabilising the polity, we are still arguing.” He pointed out that if the Federal Executive Council had the integrity to follow the constitution strictly, and raised a medical team to go to Saudi Arabia, the nation would have been spared the current impasse.
Buhari said the constitution has to be followed whether we like its provisions or not. According to him, even when the political expediency was resorted to, the media is still awash with where the president is. “The moment you start doing extra constitutional things, you are gradually introducing political anarchy. And I don’t think that is good,” Buhari further said.
He praised the unity forum for sacrificing its time and resources to embark on the agitation for a better Nigeria, adding that it is firmly on the right track and that he associates with their aspirations.
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