By Martin Obono
In the history of Nigeria, there has never been a time in our democratic journey where a government has displayed total disregard for human rights and intolerance for opposition and voice of reason. This has become a source of concern to all lovers of democracy.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari promised the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, his administration would conduct free and fair elections.
Events have shown that the president is only paying lip service to the Prime Minister as the government consistently displays a high level of intolerance towards opposition voices, civil society organizations and journalists.
The 2019 general elections come with varied apprehension. “Apart from the regular trepidation of insecurity and rigging which characterize the nature of our elections, it appears that the 2019 elections are designed to fail.
With less than seven months to the general elections, the President declared his administration considers national security superior to the rule of law. This only suggests that the administration could suspend laws and rules to pave way for the ruling party in the 2019 elections.
We have also noted with keen interest the denial of an opposition presidential candidate access to use a public venue for his presidential campaign declaration despite making payment for the venue and being issued a receipt by the facility managers.
In the most recent elections under this administration, state resources have been used to procure votes especially in Ekiti, Imo, Edo, Bauchi among others, contrary to section 138 (1) Electoral Act 2010. The president must ensure that rules do not only apply when it comes to opposition but he must be guided by them.
Also, elections in the north have been typified by underage voting. This is unacceptable and the government must demonstrate courage to prevent this from reoccurring in 2019.
We are therefore calling on the government to ensure transparency in allocating public facilities in order to guarantee a free and fair election in 2019.
We also call on friends of Nigeria and the international community to pay close attention to the 2019 general elections and help rescue Nigeria from imminent danger of an election colored with indices of unfairness and violation of rules.
We also call on the government to obey the Federal High Court judgment pronounced by Justices Ijeoma Ojukwu and Gabriel Kolawole for the Federal Government to release Colonel Sambo Dasuki and Sheikh Ibraheem El-zakzaky respectively.
We also call on the government to release all those being held illegally and without trial in the various State Security Services facilities across the country. This is the only way the government can demonstrate obedience to rule of law and democratic tenets.