From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen Babagana Mungono (retd) has expressed deep concerns over the growing uncertainty heralding the conduct of party primaries for 2023 elections, and the unabated spate of violence that threatens the upcoming Ekiti and Osun States governorship elections. He spoke at the second quarterly meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on Friday.
He further emphasised that the disturbing development has already “culminated in intense power play capable of heightening unnecessary political tension across the country.”
The NSA, however assured that heads of security and law enforcement agencies have been “tasked to step up close monitoring and profiling of political actors, no matter highly placed, who exhibit tendencies to subvert the electoral process, even as thugs and their sponsors would equally be trailed for possible arrest and prosecution.”
Represented by a director in the agency, Sanusi Galadima, the NSA, commended the efforts of INEC Chairman and his management team for articulating a comprehensive Election Project Plan for the forthcoming 2023 general election, including a five year strategic action plan (2022-2026).
“The foregoing innovations will undoubtedly deepen Nigeria’s electoral management System including Election Security Management framework as well as the entire nation democratic process.
“However, the NSA has noted with utmost concern, the growing uncertainty heralding the conduct of party primaries for 2023 elections. This is in addition to the unabated spate of violence that threatened the upcoming off cycle gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States, arising from internal party wrangling, increasing acrimony and bickering amongst political actors as well as the inability of various contending political blocs to amicably resolves differences in line with democratic tenants.
“Consequently, the above disturbing development has already culminated in intense power play capable of heightening unnecessary political tension across the country. More worrisome is the unguarded utterances of some highly respected individuals and groups which more often than not amplifie divisive narratives to the detriment of national security and stability,” he said.
The NSA, also emphasized the need for INEC to enjoin political parties to, “consistently abide by prescribed rules as outlined in their respective manifestoes to significantly reduce areas of conflict and ensure a peaceful atmosphere for a hitch free off-cycle and general election,”
Earlier in his remarks, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, had lamented that the security situation in the country is a major threat to the conduct of both the off season and the 2023 general elections, charging the security agencies to arrest the situation before the elections.
“The general security situation in the country and its impact on the electoral process is a source of concern to the commission. However, we are confident that with nine months to the 2023 General Election, there is enough time to respond to the security challenges and secure the nation for elections to take place nationwide.
“The timetable for the election has also been released. Let us not wait until a few weeks to the election before we realise that time is not on our side and begin to seek for extension of timelines. The time to act is now. We wish to reassure the security agencies that we will continue to work cooperatively with you to ensure the success of all forthcoming elections and electoral activities,” he warned.