Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters, yesterday, said the involvement of the Armed Forces in the electoral process was to serve as deterrence to all those who might have other motives oustide ensuring the successful conduct of elections in the country.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin, opened up on the involvement of the Nigerian armed forces in electoral matters during the National Dialogue on the Challenge of Vote-buying, organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Abuja.
Represented by the Chief of Defence, Civil-Military Affairs, Rear Admiral Peter Onaji, Olonisakin said the armed forces were established primarily to defend the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against all forms of threats from sea, land, and air as well as from all other sources that would threaten the existence of the country.
He added that, looking at the constitutional task of the armed forces, “What we are talking about today concerns the electoral process; the process of selecting political leadership of our country at all levels. And we know that, where there is a contest between contenders, there will definitely be threats, conflicts will emerge.
“So, because the military is there to ensure that nothing threatens the peace and security of our country, we show presence just to serve as deterrence to all those who may have other motives than ensuring the successful conduct of whatever event that is taking place. In this case, the electoral process, which will usher in the leadership of our political structure from 2019 to 2023.”
The CDS further said the armed forces would remain committed and cannot be deterred from performing that which would ensure an enabling environment for Nigerians to exercise their civic responsibility to the state.
In his remarks, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, expressed regret that the theme of the event had stakeholders, such as politicians, who could not be found at the event.
Shittu said when you talk of vote buying, you are talking about politicians. He added that the first most critical stakeholders; people who are likely to engage in the infamous job of buying votes are politicians and political party leadership.
“Unfortunately, I can hardly find our party leaders across virtually all the political parties. I can’t see them here. And this is a matter for regret because I have been assured by the DG that all of them were invited,” Shittu bemoaned.
Still bemoaning the absence of politicians at the event, Shittu further said: “You cannot barb the hair of a person in his absence. It is not the ordinary citizens who seek for their votes to be bought, but the political parties and their officers who look after and get people whose votes will be bought.
“So, they are really the ones we have to meet here and talk to and appeal to them to see the morality in the act of seeking to buy votes.”