As part of measures to ensure the transparency and credibility of the 2019 elections, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, recently promised that security agencies that would be deployed for election duties would be efficient, professional, neutral and patriotic. Monguno disclosed this at the opening of a two-day “Election Security Management” workshop which was jointly organised by his office, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police and other security agencies.
However, the NSA warned that in the event of threats to democratic values and sacred electoral process, the security agencies would be firm and decisive. The intervention by the NSA is timely and commendable.
It will surely improve the performance of the security agencies during elections if they uphold the essence of the training. In fact, the alleged meddlesomeness of some security agencies in the recent elections in Ekiti and Osun states has made this training by the NSA and other security agencies more necessary. Also, the allegations of plans to rig the forthcoming election by the opposition equally justified the training. There is no doubt that the 2019 poll is vital to the future of the nation’s democracy and continued existence of the country as one corporate entity.
The outcome of the election will also be important to other African countries and blacks in Diaspora. Therefore, all efforts will be put in place to make the election free, fair and credible. The election will be conducted in such a way that the outcome would be acceptable to all Nigerians.
The world is watching us. We must get it right. The security agencies and INEC officials must put in their best efforts to ensure that the outcome of the election is credible and seen to be so. All the security agencies involved in election duties must be neutral and apolitical. They must also be patriotic and professional before, during and after the election. They must not be found to be partisan. Apart from training the security agencies for election duties, there is urgent need for voter education.
All Nigerians, especially the electorate, must be educated on their responsibilities during the elections. INEC and other institutions charged with voter education should do more in this area before the polls. The political parties, their members and their teeming supporters must be enlightened on their roles during the election. The training has become necessary in view of rising cases of ballot snatching, thuggery and violence witnessed in some gubernatorial elections in some states recently. The 2019 polls should mark a new beginning in deepening the democratic process in the country.
We should do away with the usual ‘do or die’ approach to politics. Election should be seen as an opportunity to choose our leaders. It does not call for war or violence. Election should always be a peaceful exercise. The exercise ought to be a great improvement on the 2015 election, which was generally adjudged to be fair and credible.
While it is important to provide adequate security during the election, such deployment should not be done in such a way that it will appear as if the nation is under siege or in a war situation. We task the security agents that would be deployed for election duties to heed the advice of the NSA. We enjoin them not to compromise the integrity of the 2019 polls. INEC must also ensure that the votes of Nigerians count during the election. Therefore, there is the need to entrench a new security orientation that will create a conducive atmosphere for Nigerians to exercise their voting rights.
Interestingly, President Muhammadu Buhari in his Christmas message to Nigerians hinted that his promise to conduct free, fair and credible polls in 2019 is irrevocable. We urge the president to keep firmly to this promise which we believe will deepen our democratic culture. Above all, all Nigerians must work together to ensure that the 2019 election is peaceful, free and fair.