Convener Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima and National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere Renewal Group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, among others, have said credible election will not be possible in Nigeria unless culture of resistance is revived in the country.
They spoke yesterday at a democratic round table in Lagos organised by Mr wale Ogunade-led Voters Awareness Initiative, arguing that Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega cannot make any difference in 2011 elections with current political setting.
The event was chaired by former President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Dr. (Mrs) Peace Obiajulu.
Speaking on “Yardsticks for Free and Fair Election” in the country, Pastor Bakare maintained that credible elections remain part of the rights of Nigerians, not privilege, saying that everything the nation must be put into it to enable citizens exercise their rights to enthrone good governance.
He decried a situation where people who were ill-prepared for governance turned leaders in the country, insisting that “All the good intent of Jega will be frustrated by those who were there before him”, apparently referring to other INEC officials who took part in flawed elections in the past and are still serving in the commission.
Bakare added: “We should not allow those who hate us to preside over our elections”, describing political parties in the country as mere platforms for people to get power and lack internal democracy.
“Nigerian political history is ruined by the worst of us, sidelined the best of us and enthroned charlatans. No single party has high level of internal democracy and Nigerians awaken and know that those who are in power are there without their permission and must accept responsibility for change.
The day we get a credible voters register, those in power today will be swept away”, Bakare said.
While tracing the history of chairmanship of INEC, Bakare noted that Nigeria is at the eleventh hour of its political life.
I’m not playing on numbers but Attahiru Jega is the 11th umpire of the electoral body. Being number eleven stands for so many things. One, this is Nigeria’s eleventh hour and Polo 11 became the first man to successfully land in the moon.
Jega would be making history if he succeeds. And if there is any attempt to manipulate the people’s will he should cry out and if he succeeds he will be entitled to 11 gun salutes but if he did not, then welcome to 9/11″.
On his part, Ikuforiji said that Nigerians do not ask their leaders questions and have always remained complacent, urging the citizenry to stop complaining because it will not save the situation.
“The fact that we’re still complaining means that we’re all bad. You can’t ask us questions. And if we’re not determined, we can’t get things right”, Ikuforiji said.
According to Shettima Yerima, “The result of bad leadership is why the only role a Hausa man will play in a movie is that of a gateman. It has become our culture.”
He insisted that until Nigerians resist the nation’s elites adding that “we must have a system that will make the centre less attractive, with strong regions.
“With what I see on ground, it seems we’re going to go back to the same election outcome. Jega alone cannot conduct credible election.
He will depend on results those (INEC officials) on ground send to him. And if we’re talking of electoral reform without reforming the Police and the Army on their attitude towards electioneering too, it will give a lot of concern to people like us.
“One of our major challenges is that we lack this culture of resistance. There is this Nigerian mind-set that nothing will come out of the elections and they need to have new orientation so that they can take their destiny into their own hands”, Yerima postulated.
Zoning, he said, has put the country in a dilemma such that if there is no zoning and the north captures power, it would be difficult for it to leave the northern part of the country but if Jonathan is denied the presidency in 2011, the south-south may decide to have their own republic, regarding it as the height of injustice to the region.
Odumakin observed that Nigeria is at a quarter to midnight, urging all those who have haled the appointment of Jega to assist him succeed. Just as he insisted that if N84 billion is what it would need to ensure credible elections in the country, it should be released to INEC.
He added: “The most important things today is no longer power (electricity), it’s no longer roads. Three things are important in Nigeria today. Number one is election. Number two is election. And number three is election. To that extent it is an urgent national task, which we’re ready to devote time to educate and encourage the people to register, to ensure that they select good candidates to vote for, to vote and to defend their votes. The godfathers should find something else to do because what have been working for them before is not going to work for them now.”
Mr. Friday Oshiomagbe urged the civil society community in the country and credible individuals to go beyond advocacy for free, fair and credible elections and participate actively in the process in order to provide alternative to the Nigerian voters.
He insisted that if credible Nigerians shy away prom active participation in politics, the eligible voters will register and on election day, vote in people who are not competent.
“We have been talking of the PDP. From the east to west we talk of the PDP but what effort have we made to organise the opposition to provide credible alternative?”, Ohiomagbe queried.