CALL FOR INTERIM GOVERNMENT: OUR RESPONSE.
A PRESS STATEMENT BY FREE NIGERIA MOVEMENT.
The 2023 elections were a milestone in our electoral history bringing it to a centennial, to a full round by September. We often wonder what thoughts may have pranced the minds of the first Nigerians who voted in that election of 20th September, 1923. But people like Herbert Macaulay were resolute in their desire to birth for Nigeria the right of franchise which legal fabrics the Clifford Constitution of 1922 provided. Thus did the nationalist race begin coursing through a labyrinth of political developments leading up to independence in 1960 reaching full franchise in 1979. The first electoral deposit of our post – colonial history was reportedly marred by widespread violence and manipulation of results. A military take over following the failed coup of 15th January, 1966, would lay the bricks for a twenty – nine – year military rule spanning five coup d’états. We are all well acquainted with the horrors of those years and how much of our economic might perished in the flames of corruption and mismanagement. With the return to civil rule in 1999, six years after the annulment of what is adjudged as the most free and fair election in our political history, came a new glow of hope illuminating the hearts and minds of Nigerians to pursue their dreams for justice, equity and fairness. Political participation marked a new high. Nigerians felt their country return to their hands to mold it according to the specifications by our founding fathers.
However, the results have walked in the opposite direction with the expectations of ordinary Nigerians twenty – four years into the fourth republic with Nigeria topping the list of embarrassing statistics at global, regional and sub – regional levels. The political class, peopled by new and old politicians and political houses, spread a culture of incompetence and ineptitude coloured by nepotism, tribalism and the regular manipulation of religious sentiments, returning every election cycle to sow seeds of discord among ordinary Nigerians leaving a scarred population bare of democratic dividends behind. Apathy grew and flowered. Rigging became a popular vocabulary in our electoral lexicon. In most states and at the center, the worst of us led the best of us to doom. We can never account for the human cost of this dark period of our democracy and how terribly our institutions were traumatized. But the weaker they became the more power the political class amassed giving rise to what can best be described as the golden years of impunity. Thus was Nigeria stolen from the true owners – the people, and balkanized by politicians. Our institutions began to bleed professionals reaching an all-time high in the last decade. We became a country of refugees as the harsh economic reality activated criminal tendencies and elements outstretching the limit of our law enforcement. In 2020, the End SARS protest provided an outlet for young Nigerians to vent their displeasure with the system. It also exposed the extent of desperation by Nigerians and the proximity of most to the natural order of survival. The political order seeing how much awake Nigerians had become, construed a devilish plot to silence their voices. The cowardly shooting of young Nigerian protesters, despite holding the flag and singing the national anthem, was how low they crept in their plot. We can never fully comprehend how much trauma that unfortunate episode caused the nation and whether the victims will ever recover.
But hope returned in the months leading up to the 2023 general elections with more Nigerians armed with clarity of what truly matters in their engagement with the system. Over ten million new names entered the voters register. Most of them were young people some of whom were first time voters. So, when they came out to cast their votes on the 25th of February, 2023, it was not a repetition of the quarterly ritual but as a service to the nation, in knowing that by participating in the process that recruits leaders, they hold the right to demand for accountability. But more so because the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, had promised Nigerians of the commitment of the commission to the conduct of free, fair and all inclusive polls. He made submissions locally and on various international platforms assuring Nigerians and the world that the outcome would be transparent and such that will reflect the will of the Nigerian people. This is besides the confidence that President Mohammadu Buhari’s signing of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) gave the willingness of Nigerians to participate in the polls.
Unfortunately, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu chose to desecrate the alters of truth and trust by collating results and declaring a winner in flagrant disregard of the INEC guidelines and the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended). We have heard calls to look to the bright side of the election vis a vis the positive changes that it has contributed to our electoral behaviour and history. While we acknowledge that there were improvements in voter participation in particular, we cannot help but ask ‘On what foundation will these changes build their roots?’ A decision based on falsehood and fraud will always birth same. The reason our country remained politically moribund for years was due to our indifference to suppression, oppression and injustice. This is why we have been marching for ten days now to call awake our national consciousness to the barrage of illegalities committed during the presidential, national assembly, gubernatorial and state assembly elections.
We hope that the courts would concluded hearing and pronouncements by May 29 to allow for the swearing in of a new president. However, in the event that the courts are unable to clear litigations before it, it lies within its legal right to direct President Mohammadu Buhari to hand over to the Senate President who would president over state affairs until June 3rd when he would hand over to the Chief Justice of the Federation to preside as Interim President pending the resolution of cases and a substantive president is sworn in. All of this is within the bandwidth of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is in part to ensure that President Mohammadu Buhari remains within the limit of his lawful tenure which elapses on 29th May, 2023, owing that the sixty days left of his tenure cannot suffice to call for a new presidential poll should the courts heed the call of a vast majority of ordinary Nigerians and order for a new presidential election.
Those claiming that our submission at the Ministry of Defence was to woo the military over a possible takeover are mischievous and desperate spin doctors whose only interest is to midwife instability in our polity. Their plan will never succeed. Our country cannot afford a return to the dark years of military dictatorship and given the contribution of Nigeria to political dispute in Mali and Gambia, that is not an option. On the said day, we had rounded up visits to the US Embassy and the high Commissions of Britain and Canada, when we made a brief stop at the Ministry of Defence to read our press statement calling on the military to stay within the law in their conduct. We call on the spin doctors to desist from any further lies over our intentions. We cannot be part of any ploy to destabilize Nigeria any more than it currently is by the illegal conduct of Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu.
For those insisting on the unconstitutionality of the call, we like to remind you that prof. Mahmoud Yakubu’s actions are also unconstitutional and that public deceit is a crime. The fact that he still has a job in the commission is proof of how much we have fallen into the pit of illegality. No progress happens in any lawless society. As of today, Nigeria is within the field of lawlessness because of the conspiracy or collusion to permit that fraudulent declaration to
May we reiterate our demands in the interest of public information and knowledge:
1. Sack, arrest and detain Prof. Mahmoud.
2. Declaration of the presidential election of 25th February, 2023.
3. Declaration of an Interim Government.
4. Compensation of the victims of electoral violence and voters’ suppression.
We have also called for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission in Lagos and other flashpoints during the federal and state polls for the purpose of national healing.
It deserves mentioning that our group and motivation are apolitical. We are not serving the interest of any presidential candidate or politician. We are only challenging the illegality of the process that declared a winner in a presidential election that met every condition for failure. We are asking for people to be held accountable for once in this country.
We will continue our march for Nigeria and will not stop until our demands are met.
Dr. Moses Paul,