Barely 25 days to the general elections, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday accused President Muhammadu Buhari of desperation to rig the crucial poll. Obasanjo, who claimed that the president was misusing security institutions to fight all critics and opponents of his administration, expressed concern that another “Abacha Era” may have surfaced in the country with the unfolding development.
He spoke during a press conference held at his residence within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he urged Nigerians to resist evil machinations. In his address titled, “Points for Concern and Action,” the former president noted that in Buhari’s self-succession project, the president masterminded the intimidation of the judiciary with the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, for nondeclaration of assets without following the Constitution and the law.
Obasanjo said the agenda to manipulate the general elections informed why the president blatantly refused to sign the revised Electoral Reform Bill into law. Detailing how the president allegedly planned to rig election, the ex-president revealed that the present administration was working in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan. He alerted the international community to the alleged ploy by Buhari to illegally perpetuate himself in power in a manner reminiscent of the late General Sani Abacha regime. Obasanjo said: “What is happening under Buhari’s watch can be likened to what we witnessed under Gen. Sani Abacha in many ways.
When Abacha decided that he must install himself as Nigerian President by all means and at all costs, he went for broke and surrounded himself with hatchet men who, on his order and in his interest and at high costs to Nigeria and Nigerians, maimed, tortured and killed for Abacha. Buhari has started on the same path in mad desperation.
“From available intelligence, we have heard of how Buhari and his party are going about his own self-succession project. They have started recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count. It is the sole reason he had blatantly refused to sign the revised Electoral Reform Bill into law.
“His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing results right from the ward to local government, state and national levels to allot him what will look like a landslide victory irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns. “The current plan is to drape the predetermined results with a toga of credibility. It is also planned that violence of unimaginable proportion will be unleashed in high voting population areas across the country to precipitate rerun elections and where he will be returned duly elected after concentration of security officials as it happened in Osun State.
“We are monitoring them and we call on all democrats across the world to keep an eye on the unfolding anti-democratic agenda of President Buhari. This is the time for preventive measures to be taken, otherwise Nigeria may be presented with a fait accompli with impunity and total disregard of all pleas.” The former president alleged that the Buhari-led government is using security and anti-graft agencies to fight opposition. His words: “Today, another Abacha Era is here.
The security institutions are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our fledgling democracy. “EFCC, Police and Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results. Criticism, choice and being different are inherent trademark of democracy.
If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow. “Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians.” The former president urged Nigerians not to allow Buhari to deceive them the second time, insisting that Nigeria now needs a man with better physical and mental soundness, with an active mind and intellect. He said: “Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time….
“Even when figures, facts and statistics are made clear to Buhari, he keeps repeating what is untrue, either because he cannot understand or for mischief purposes and that places him on the level of a pathological liar. He believes he can get away with impunity and deceit, as he seems to have done on many occasions in the past. “…But if as we were told that Buhari is nepotic because he does not trust others, why should others trust him to continue to put their fate and life in his hand? Trust begets trust. They cannot be trusted for ‘sensitive’ appointment, but they can be sent out to campaign for his re-election.
Who is fooling who?” Obasanjo, who also expressed doubt over the integrity and competence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct credible election, warned against actions that could derail the nation’s democracy. He said what happened in the Osun State gubernatorial election, which resulted in “unnecessary rerun,” was a pointer to the electoral commission’s partiality.
He said: “I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election. And if the INEC is willing, will the ruling party and government allow it? From what we saw and knew about Osun State gubernatorial election, what was conclusive was declared inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary. “The unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general elec-tion, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately contrived, broken or non-working voting machines or card readers, confusion of voters as to their voting stations, inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour the blue-eye political party of INEC because the commission’s hands will be tied to enable hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment.
“The transmission and collation of results are subject to interference, manipulation and meddling. If the INEC’s favourite political party wins with all the above infractions, the result will be conclusively declared and if not, there will be a ‘rerun’, the result of which is known before it is carried out. I know that I am not alone in being sceptical about the integrity of INEC and its ability to act creditably and above board. But we are open to be convinced otherwise.”
On the prosecution of CJN for non-declaration of assets, Obasanjo said the trial was in violation of the nation’s constitution and the law. The former president submitted that Onnoghen’s ordeal was to “set him aside for a Buhari man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in.” Obasanjo said: “It seems to be a ploy to intimidate the judiciary as a whole in preparation for all election cases that will go before them. Where and how will all these stop? “Typically, with overwhelming outrage and condemnation, we are told that the Presidency denied knowledge of the action. But the Vice-President told us that the President knew of the action on Saturday night for everything that has been prepared for Monday morning.
“Haba VP, it doesn’t happen that way. “But if that can happen to the Chief Justice of the Federation, the fifth man in the hierarchy of government, without the knowledge let alone the approval of the President, then it speaks for the type of government we have which means the President is not in charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take anything for granted. We are all unsafe and insecure under such an administration. And enough of it! “Buhari’s apologists will not stop at anything to try to cover up his administration’s inadequate performance and character. A constitutional liberal democracy cannot thrive without an independent and insulated judiciary from the executive and the legislature. Nigerians must wake up and stop these acts of wanton desperation tantamount to mental incapacity to run the affairs of Nigeria wholesomely.” Obasanjo also criticized the Federal Government’s “Trader Moni,” accusing the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, of using it to manipulate the coming elections. He said: “Osinbajo’s explanation that it was their government programme can only be construed to be very shallow and lopsided, if not an outright idiotic programme.
“Traders in rural and sub-urban areas of Nigeria are many more than those in urban areas and they are much poorer than traders in Lagos, Abuja and other cities. They need more attention and greater help. Are they to be confined to the heap of perpetual poverty? What of those who are not traders? They are not entitled to handout and they can languish in penury? “And what about millions who have lost their jobs in the last three and a half years? The timing is also suspect. “What is the connection between taking the number of PVC (Permanent Voters Card) of the recipient of the N10,000 doled out to ‘traders’ and the forthcoming election? There is something sinister about it, and Professor Osinbajo, of all people, should know that.” Obasanjo also argued that the security situation in the country has deteriorated, saying the current administration has reached the end of its wit even in handling all security issues, including Boko Haram insurgency.
“This administration has reached the end of its wit even in handling all security issues, but particularly Boko Haram issue, partly due to misuse of security apparatus and poor equipment, deploy ment, coordination and cooperation,” the former president said. Obasanjo called on Nigerians to be vigilant. “Finally, those Nigerians that are being intimidated or threatened by this administration must trust in God and stand firm. Tough times do not last forever, but tough people invariably survive tough times.
This is a tough time for almost all Nigerians in different respects, but the people’s will shall triumph. “All people who have registered to vote with their PVCs must never allow anybody or anything to deny or deprive them of the right of performing their fundamental civic duty of voting and sustaining democracy. Establishment of democracy and its sustenance is second to attainment of independence in our political life, leaving out the victory of the civil war. We shall overcome,” the former president said. INEC said it is studying President Obasanjo’s statement on the state of the nation. Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, who spoke to our correspondent, said the commission would respond at the appropriate time.