‘Election Crisis Is Inevitable, Unless There Are Free And Fair Elections’
Executive Director, Civil Liberties Organisation of Nigeria (CLO), Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike spoke to LAWRENCE NJOKU in Enugu on a number of issues, especially his fears on the 2015 general elections.
THERE are increasing fears over the 2015 general elections following spate of violence and attacks. What is your take on this?
I associate with the views of Nigerians, which also are the views the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) where I work that instead of looking at insecurity, mass poverty and unemployment, the politicians are only spending energy discussing politics among other issues that cannot solve the crises that are on the ground. I agree with this line of thought and to also say that until there is a credible election, which may not even come now, these things are bound to continue. This Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shown signs that it has no capacity to conduct a free and fair election going by the issues rearing up over the permanent voters card. This in itself has caused some apprehensions that the forthcoming election will be tactically rigged. Where elections are rigged, it does not represent the views of people and where elections are not free and fair, it will create the fears that those being denied could foment trouble.
You can see what is happening in the North-East. I received a call from Chibok sometime in October from an elder statesman, who claimed that as he was speaking with me, he could count the number of people on the street.
He said his family was in disarray following series of attacks. These things, despite all that have been said have continued; but rather than think of way to tackle it for a united country, our politicians are busy playing politics and looking for whom to govern. There was this peace conference in Abuja recently and all that spoke expressed similar sentiments that we might not get out of this election united because of post election violence.
In blaming the politicians, are you saying that the government has been not responsive enough to the violence?
The issue on ground is that there is insecurity; the president and his party ought to be on top of this situation. There has been a lot of commission set up by government both now and before to address insecurity in the country, its causes and what have you. Names were mentioned and as we speak government had not summoned courage to prosecute any person or institute an inquiry into any of these allegations or even implement recommendations. It shows government is not serious with the fight and it gives credence to those who might want to continue in crisis to do so because government had done nothing in the past to address it.
On the issues of corruption, this government has never addressed corruption; it has never been in the manifesto of this government. The national conference during its deliberations agreed that corruption is one of the major problems affecting this country. The mass unemployment is something else; we were here when thousands that went for job recruitment died in the process. Till date, this government has not done anything to placate that situation. Those responsible still parade themselves at the corridors of powers. There is power supply issue, state of roads among others that have affected the economy. Strikes have become a common thing in Nigeria to the point that educational institutions, hospitals, judiciary and what have you can close for months without providing services they were set up to do. So this government has encouraged what is happening now by failing to live to its expectation.
Can you suggest what should be done to bring down tension as we go into the 2015 general elections?
INEC should begin to restore confidence in the Nigerian people that it is capable of conducting free, fair and credible elections next year. They should ensure that the permanent cards should be available to every voting adult in Nigeria. There should not be any reason why any Nigerian of voting age should not participate in the process. Politicians must play according to the rules and reduce character assassination. Some of them started campaigns before the whistle was blown, and even INEC showed that it was not committed to protecting its own rules being violated. We need to establish electoral offences commission as approved by the national conference to deal with these issues.