Lagos Democratic Movement (LDM); a coalition of civil activists and political actors joins well-meaning democrats in commending the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for living up to the expectations of Nigerians in ensuring hitch-free polling in Ekiti State on Saturday, June 21st 2014. It is indeed reassuring that INEC displayed utmost sense of responsibility and commitment to due process which is a vital imperative for credible elections.
LDM however wishes to note that the outcome of Ekiti election and the eventual fate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) serve as a huge lesson that should hasten the culture of internal democracy within the party. LDM is of the firm belief that proper assessments, by the leaderships of the APC, of the events that led to the defeat of the party in Ekiti should serve to bolster and entrench internal democracy with a view to enhancing electoral fortunes of the party and for the collective interests of Nigerians ahead of 2015 and beyond.
More importantly, LDM is deeply encouraged by the marked improvement in INEC’s logistical and administrative arrangements which, no doubt, manifested in the success of the governorship election in Ekiti state. LDM therefore wishes to assert that the performance in Ekiti only represents the least benchmark expected from the electoral body in subsequent elections.
Notwithstanding, LDM regrets that the integrity of INEC and the credibility of the election were hugely undermined by the questionable militarization and overt malfeasance of security agents, ostensibly deployed to coerce political opposition and ordinary Ekiti voters. LDM unequivocally condemns emerging culture of political brigandage which culminates in rampant and unbridled politicization of security agencies as well as the military in prosecution of election matters. LDM frowns at undemocratic mannerism of vested interests amongst the political class whose inordinate intention is to usurp, exploit and unleash the infamous ‘federal might’ with the view to cowing political opponents into submission and in undermining the electoral process.
LDM wishes to alert Nigerians and well-meaning groups and stakeholders in the global community to the resurgence of ‘siege mentality’ and ‘capture mantra’ manifesting in the ugly trends of militarization of electoral process by political enforcers in Nigeria. LDM therefore warns that the pervasive threats constituted by prevailing undemocratic posturing, manifested in politicization of security agencies, are reminiscences of the political recklessness, abuse of power and rabid impunity that culminated in the abortion of first and second republics.
LDM notes that a number of political actors, media professionals and election observers were either molested or arrested in Ekiti state during the election without cogent or justifiable reasons. LDM therefore frowns at attempts, overtly or covertly, by politicians to intimidate, harass and demobilize potential voters under the pretext of providing security during elections.
In the light of Ekiti experience, LDM is challenging INEC to urgently address genuine concerns of stakeholders in the electoral process and the demand same from the Chief of Army Staff with regards to militarization and malevolent deployment of senior army officers at the behest of politicians and political office holders with vested interests. LDM demands thorough explanations and clarifications from the military hierarchy on the roles of the military and other arms of the security agents before and during the governorship elections in Ekiti State. LDM further demands assurances from INEC that subsequent elections would be devoid of threats of harassments, intimidation and marginalization of electorate and stakeholders in the electoral process.
While reaffirming faith in the sanctity of the mandate, as expressed by the people of Ekiti State through their votes on June 21st 2014, LDM however wishes to admonish Nigerians that the lessons and imports of the outcome of the electoral exercise should not be lost on all and sundry. LDM applauds the gallantry displayed by the incumbent governor; Dr. Kayode Fayemi, whose acceptance of the results and expression of political maturity and statesmanship are clear departure from the un-sportsmanly and intolerance accustomed with post-election attitude of Nigerian politicians. LDM wishes to recommend the post-election tolerance championed by Dr. Fayemi in Ekiti to all parties and stakeholders in future electoral process in Nigeria.
Nevertheless, LDM considers the emergence of Mr. Ayodele Fayose as the governor-elect in Ekiti state as a critical watershed for anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria. It is instructive that the governor-elect who is facing corruption trial by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFFCC) would be sworn-in to enjoy immunity of office with ongoing charges of corruption. LDM is concerned that allowing an indicted political office holder to exercise power over an office he allegedly previously abuse and for which he is standing trial portends another worrisome precedence in our democracy and constitute, by ramified implications, a major disincentive to anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria.
As concerned Nigerians ponder over the ugly precedence in Ekiti, LDM condemns the brazen impudence of the federal government in condoning corruption. LDM considers the withdrawal of corruption charges against Mohammed Abacha by federal government as crude and callous rape on the collective integrity of Nigerians. LDM calls on the federal government and the Attorney General of the federation to refile the charges of corruption against Mohammed Abacha in order to ensure proper restitution and recovery of public funds in his possession.
Lastly, we call on all well-meaning Nigerians and genuine democrats to remain vigilant, support and participate in popular struggles aim at dismantling the booby-traps on our journey to entrenching a truly democratic society.
Olanrewaju Suraju 'Lanre Adeleke