2019 Elections: Northern Traditional Rulers Warn Politicians Against Rigging, Other Malpractices

2019 Elections: Northern Traditional Rulers Warn Politicians Against Rigging, Other Malpractices

 

Traditional rulers of the 19 northern states have called on politicians to shun acts capable of causing tension in the country.

The royal fathers made the call on Wednesday at the Fifth General Assembly of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council in Kaduna State.

The meeting tagged ‘Pervasive Insecurity In An Election Year; Prospects And Challenges’, was also attended by the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Yakubu Mahmood.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Council and Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar, said the meeting was convened to discuss the preparedness of the electoral umpire for the general elections in 2019.

He identified some areas which he noted if not properly addressed by the Federal Government could hamper the peaceful conduct of the polls.

The Sultan explained that the meeting with the INEC Chairman has become crucial because of the fundamental debate across party lines bordering on whether the commission was fully ready and committed to conducting credible, free and fair elections next year.

On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, he noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has withheld assent to the bill and the controversy that followed, especially the reaction of the National Assembly to the President’s decision.

The council chairman then asked the next step INEC would take should the lawmakers override the President to pass the bill into law, as being purported in some quarters.

 

On his part, the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, was concerned about the issue of security during the elections.

He called for the prosecution of election offenders by a special tribunal which he said would reduce incidents of rigging by politicians.

“Elections are never rigged by the electoral body, or by the police, or by security (agencies). Elections are rigged by politicians,” the Emir stated.

“If politicians see this as a matter of life and death; if you are in office whether or not the people want you, you must remain; or if you want to take an office whether or not they want you, you must take it; that is where they try to compromise INEC, compromise the police.”

The traditional ruler believes there is a need to continue to call on politicians to respect the rule of democracy, as a way of ensuring credible elections.

He also warned those seeking election into political offices against violence and intimidating the electorate during the polls.

The Emir said, “Electoral fraud and rigging do not happen on election day alone. We have seen political parties have rallies and people come out with dangerous weapons, swinging them around and being a threat to the general population.

“You create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that may stop people from coming out to vote on voting day; that is part of rigging.”

He decried that nothing has been done to address these issues, adding that it was not the first time he would raise such alarm.

Issues raised by other members of the council include poor voter education, election manipulation, insecurity, and logistics challenges, among others.

Professor Mahmood, in his response, informed the traditional rulers that INEC was fully committed conduction credible and fair elections in 2019.

He added that the electoral body would continue to protect the nation’s democratic governance through a credible election process.

The INEC boss, however, blamed politicians who overheat the polity or blackmail the commission whenever the outcome of an election was not in their favour.

Osinbajo Urges Northern Traditional Rulers To Counsel Misguided Youths

The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has called on traditional rulers to advise misguided youths in their domains against divisive actions.

Professor Osinbajo made the call on Tuesday when he met with traditional rulers from the Northern states in continuation of his consultations with leaders of the North and South East.

The consultations follow the recent “quit notice” given to Igbos in the North by Arewa youths, in reaction to the continued agitation for secession by groups in the South East.

Professor Osinbajo, who noted that traditional rulers have a role to play in “countering the voices of divisiveness”, urged them not to relent in playing their unique roles.

“Let us continue to counsel the misguided elements among our youth, who think that ethnic confrontation is a game and that words can be thrown around carelessly without repercussion,” he said.

“Having said this, let me say that we are not deaf to the legitimate concerns and frustrations arising from around the country. Every part of Nigeria has its own grievances. But these have to be expressed graciously and managed with mutuality rather than with scorn and disdain.”

Stressing that Nigeria is stronger and better as one unified nation, the Acting President warned that the hate hate-filled and divisive rhetoric and agitations in parts of the country are “unjustifiable, unacceptable and often times illegal”.

He also stressed that such agitations were capable of rubbishing the sacrifices made by many Nigerians over the years to keep the country united.

“Nigeria has seen enough violence and bloodshed in its history, the price of our unity has already been paid in the blood and lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians,” he said.

Professor Osinbajo assured the traditional rulers that the Federal Government is committed to keeping the country united, adding that rather than viewing the country’s diversity as a challenge, it should be a source of unity.

“We must never take our diversity for granted; the fullness of our strength actually lies in that diversity. And we must wield that diversity, not as a divisive tool, but instead as a binding agent,” he said.

Traditional rulers present at the meeting include the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara; and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, were also among those in attendance.

The ongoing consultations by the Acting President are expected to be concluded on Wednesday with a meeting with the 36 governors.

International Community Will Help Nigeria Recover Stolen Funds – Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari and Traditional Rulers in the northPresident Muhammadu Buhari says that his administration has received firm assurances of cooperation from the United States and other countries on the recovery and repatriation of funds stolen from Nigeria.

Speaking at an audience with members of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, President Buhari said that it was now up to Nigeria to provide the international community with the facts and figures needed to drive the recovery effort.

“In the next three months, our administration will be busy getting those facts and the figures to help us recover our stolen funds in foreign countries,”’ the President told the traditional rulers.

Citing the report submitted by the Ahmed Joda-led transition committee, President Buhari said that several revenue-generating institutions in the country have been compromised leading to a weak economy.

On insecurity, the President said that the traditional rulers could play a key role in stemming the terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria by assisting the government with cost-effective intelligence gathering.

President Buhari also assured the traditional rulers that his administration was working hard to end insecurity and terrorism in the country in the shortest possible time with the cooperation of neighbouring countries and the international community.

He acknowledged that Nigerians expect a lot from his administration and appealed for patience and understanding while his government works diligently to speedily overcome the huge national challenges it inherited.

Sultan Abubakar had earlier presented the Northern Traditional Rulers’ recommendations to the President on issues related to national development.

The Sultan told the President that as custodians of tradition and stakeholders in the Nigerian project, the traditional rulers had a responsibility to always advise political leaders on the “path of truth and justice.

“We have always advised our leaders, but their acceptance of our advice is their own prerogative,” the Sultan said.

The traditional rulers assured the President of their unflinching support for his administration’s efforts to fulfil its promises to Nigerians.