Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to walk his talk by allowing the people of Edo and Ondo States to elect the governors of their choices in line with his admonition to African leaders.
Frank who was reacting to the advise given by Buhari, in Niamey, the Capital of Niger Republic, said that the Edo and Ondo states’ polls should be used by Buhari as a test case to prove to the world that he is sincere and ready to abide by his own admonition.
It could be recalled that Buhari, while presenting Nigeria’s General Statement at the 57th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey, Niger Republic, warned ECOWAS leaders against the temptation of elongating their tenure in office beyond constitutional limits.
“Related to this call for restraint is the need to guarantee free, fair and credible elections. This must be the bedrock for democracy to be sustained in our sub-region, just as the need for adherence to the rule of law,” Buhari told the West African leaders on Tuesday.
Frank said that Buhari apparently took a cue from the position recently canvassed by a former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in an Op Ed where he advised the former ECOWAS chairman to stem the growing trend of undemocratic tendencies among leaders in the region who freely and frequently subvert the will of the people.
Saraki, who is Chairman, The African Politeia Institute (TAPI), had in his Op-Ed in the All Africa Report titled: “Mali: Lessons on Elections for Nigeria and West Africa” said: “As we strive to provide direction to Africa on the need to support democracy, we must ensure the elections in Edo and Ondo States are not rigged.
“If local government elections caused the crisis in Mali, who knows what can be the tipping point in Nigeria.
“We should avoid any scenario that compels people to take to the streets because they believe they have been robbed of their mandate at the polling stations.”
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Frank said now that Buhari has called on African leaders to stop subverting democracy, it becomes incumbent on the heads of security agencies in the country, particularly the Director General (DG) of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police, to ensure that their men do not interfere in the elections in Edo on September 19 and Ondo on October 10, 2020.
“They should take a cue from Buhari’s speech and ensure we have a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections, where the votes of the people count,” he said.
He urged Buhari to begin his ‘African charity’ at home by ensuring that the forthcoming Edo and Ondo States governorship elections are free of manipulation, intimidation, harassment of voters, violence and the illegal use of security forces to upturn genuine poll results in favour of the party at the centre.
“Anything short of free, fair and credible elections in the two states would put a lie and insincerity to Buhari’s admonition to West African leaders and cause the country a huge international embarrassment,” he declared.
He insisted that the recent hike in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariffs is another test case where Buhari should demonstrate his willingness to abide by his own gospel through respect for the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians.
“Clearly, the increases represent a final nail on the confines of poor and vulnerable Nigerians if not immediately reversed and reviewed downwards in line with falling prices of crude oil in the international market,” he said.
He called on the current chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, to call sub-regional leaders whose policies are detrimental to their people to order, saying: “a stitch in time saves nine.”
He further advised African leaders to be democratic in their dealings and to avoid the abuse of power especially human rights abuses and rigging of elections.
He called on African leaders to listen to their people and forget about selfish ambitions.
“They should at all times safeguard the sanctity of the ballot box and ensure that the choice of the people during the poll is respected.
“They need to conduct free and fair elections in their countries to prevent disruption to governance by military junta as recently witnessed in Mali,” he said.
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