February 10, 2019
For Immediate Release
2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS: A CALL TO PATRIOTISM
As we approach the 2019 General Elections billed to commence on the 16th of February, 2019, the Center for Global Peace Initiatives [CGPI] urges Nigerians to prioritize patriotism far above any other considerations.
This call became necessary owing to some of what have been credited to certain quarters, and in the light of events around the world from which our failure to learn may condemn us to great regrets.
We again emphasize the reality that we have no other country than this one given to us by providence, and as responsible citizens, its safety and security lies in our hands. Our appeal goes to all and sundry; from the umpire to the contestants, and those who will bear witnesses by casting their ballots for candidates of their preference.
We have seen up to this moment that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has striven to put in place measures and structures which are difficult to fault. With the exception of very few individuals, though highly placed who have alleged that the Commission was working to favor certain interests – allegations which are largely unsubstantiated – Nigerians, home and abroad look forward to a fair contest.
While we appreciate the present administration for demonstrating to Nigerians that we can have an election year where money may not be the ultimate decider of victory, and where governance does not have to be on hold for reasons of election, we implore it to give the umpire, INEC, a free hand to operate as it has been the character of our Commander-In-Chief so far with his lieutenants in this administration.
We also would like to reiterate the wisdom of eschewing violence, and the need to abide by the basic rules of conduct spelt out by INEC in many of its sensitization programs.
To the candidates/contestants, we urge you to show the spirit of sportsmanship and play by the rules with regard to the outcomes of the elections. Where injustice is felt by infraction of the electoral process, we urge recourse to the law and not self-help, or the instigation of violence with the aim of orchestrating a situation of chaos that could set us decades back. This is where we urge those who are currently courting external agents and individuals for intervention, or those who are alleged to be rooting for an interim government to bury the idea as the sovereignty of Nigeria supersedes the wishes or whims of any individual or set of individuals.
Today, we could see what is playing out in Venezuela, where the ‘vultures’ are already circling the air expecting to feast on the carcasses of Venezuelans once the intervention begins. Nowhere has foreign intervention taken place except dictatorship is re-imposed and strengthened afresh to do the bidding of the intervening power(s) as in Egypt and Syria; or the state becomes a failed one with renegades, warlords and local militias put in charge of expropriating the resources of the people as in Libya and Iraq, amidst a volatile, highly complex and intractable violence orchestrated and sustained most often by the intervening power(s).
And where such intervention succeeds with minimal collateral damage, those installed become beholden to their external benefactors for bringing them to power, with the consequences that the sovereignty of that country is mortgaged and placed in the hands of external forces, thereby creating another ‘banana republic’ with no say of its own in international affairs, and necessarily dependent on it benefactors. This is not the type of country we want.
Elections have been won and lost in Nigeria since the return of democracy even under admittedly flawed polls, as the late Yar’ Adua of blessed memory confessed in his presidency. Much as we expect the current leadership at INEC to consolidate and even supersede the electoral achievements of its immediate predecessor, we see no reason why anyone should want to bring down the roof which shelters all of us over an exercise whose tenure goes no further than four years, and on the promotion of fears that have no cogent basis.
Finally, we urge all Nigerians not to rest on their oars, as the salvation of any nation depends ultimately on the active participation and vigilance of its citizens. It is our hope that by the time the elections are over, we would not only have a government that is purpose-driven, compassionate and disciplined in its handling of people’s affairs, we also would have an opposition that is responsible with positive and constructive criticisms, and one that would commence the work of the next four years immediately, so that Nigerians can have as many viable alternatives as possible.
The young aspirants that have surfaced in this election year need not go back to their comfort zones; they should deepen their engagement with the polity, and direct their efforts to salvage the nation, so as to bequeath an enviable and enduring legacy for posterity. Success, they say comes to those who have an entire gold that they continually mine.
God bless Nigeria.
Comrade Yekinni Shakiru A.