The rigging phobia is gradually and steadily getting out of hand, but the proponents do not anchor it on any reasonable reason.
The 2019 presidential election of Nigeria is just about two months from now. One recurring matter among the opposition political parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is the possibility of the incumbent President rigging the election.
The opposition parties keep on nursing the fear of rigging even when President Muhammadu Buhari, has repeatedly promised a free and fair poll.
Many local and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are also strategizing and sensitizing Nigerians on the best ways towards ensuring hitch-free polls come 2019. With all that, many Nigerians expect that things would go well. But in spite of the promises of the President and the visible efforts of the NGOs to ensure seamless elections, the opposition parties are still seriously drumming the allegation that the election would be rigged.
I mused over the allegation when it was raised earlier this year and subsequently on some other occasions where politicians have re-echoed it.
The oppositions’ unabated expression of fear of rigging the 2019 is no longer a matter to be ignored. Just last Friday, one of the spokespersons of the PDP, purportedly released a statement that was circulated online alleging that INEC, in cahoots with Buhari, was plotting to use ‘secret’ voting centres outside Nigeria to rig the presidential election. This is, to say the least, preposterous.
When did INEC make the move to create polling centres outside Nigeria after registration of voters within the designated places in the country? I believe that with our extant laws, INEC cannot take such a decision unilaterally, without recourse to the National Assembly or throwing the matter to public debate through the mass media.
But somebody invented the allegation for reasons best known to them or because they entertain an unfounded fear of rigging the election. The rigging phobia is gradually and steadily getting out of hand, but the proponents do not anchor it on any reasonable reason.
As such, I sense that, the leading opposition party is directly or indirectly sending the signals that they have some hidden agenda vis-à-vis the 2019 presidential election.
There is a saying that the guilty are afraid. By the stance of the opposition party with regard to rigging the presidential election, they have given a caveat to the Buhari-led administration, the INEC and indeed, all Nigerians, about their (the opposition’s) intentions. They are projecting on others what they plan to do.
Nigerians and the world witnessed the last Anambra State gubernatorial election conducted by INEC under the current regime of Muhammadu Buhari. The party that was not the president’s party won in all the local government areas of the state.
Observers adjudged the record as the first of its kind in the annals of Nigerian politics. The same INEC that organized the poll is saddled with the responsibility of conducting the 2019 presidential election in the country.
Why will a sane person imagine that the commission shall fail in a bigger national assignment before it? Why cry wolf where there is none?
The imaginary thought of rigging the 2019 election seems to be the only concrete thing the current PDP and their agents have to tell Nigerians as per why not to re-elect President Muhammadu Buhari and his tested and trusted team.
One truth the PDP and their desperate cohorts have failed to take note of is that Nigerian voters of today are not the Nigerian voters of yesteryears. That is why the party is still primed to sell their characteristic propaganda.
In fact, in their attempt to discredit the APC-led Federal Government of Nigeria with shallow and low-cost propaganda, the leading opposition is unknowingly drawing the attention of voters to Buhari’s good works.
For instance, it was just last week that President Buhari in his show of uncommon tenderness considered and signed into law the bill for the graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) who are within the age range, to undergo the mandatory National Youths Service upon their graduation.
Also, the President assented the bill for law graduates of the same institution to be allowed to go for law school studies upon their graduation from the university.
This very gesture would, among other things, speak to the favour of the APC especially in the forthcoming general elections and beyond.
Will the thousands of graduates of NOUN with their staff, and the millions of other prospective students of the institution that would be positively affected by the recent token action of the president hesitate to vote for his re-election bid? Your answer to the poser is as good as mine.
For the sake of our dear country, the opposition political parties especially the PDP should eschew their incessant grumbling about rigging in the 2019 elections. It is a disservice to a country that has recorded a no mean feat in conducting free and fair elections in the recent times.
Let me appeal that, instead of hyping the fantasy of unsubstantiated claims of the malpractice(s), the opposition should show to the masses the statistics or the blueprint of what they will offer in the unlikely event that they are elected.
Dr Obiorah is an Abuja-based Media Researcher and Integrated Marketing Communication Consultant