If there is anything reassuring that the schedule February 16 Presidential, National Assembly elections and March 2, 2019 Governorship and Houses of Assemblies elections would be hitch free, it is the assurance given by the military last Thursday that it would be neutral, standing impartial during and after the elections.
The assurance is coming towards the end of election campaigns and rallies that have pitched the ruling All Progressives Congress
(APC) and the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP), to an epic battle that seem to put the populace and the military on the edge.
No doubt, allegations of illegal arms importations and the seizure of unlawful police uniform and military accoutrements had heightened the political tension, fueling the erroneous sense of insecurity. This, we believe, reinforced the need for the military to remain neutral in the forthcoming elections.
Besides, this year’s general election provides a unique opportunity for the electorate to exercise their inalienable right to choose their representatives and the President who the military must subordinate to in compliance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
Military neutrality in an election of this nature therefore will not only enhance its cohesion generally, but place it in a better position and strength to quell crisis in the event of any during the elections.
Most importantly, the military remains the unwavering pillar of our strength as a nation which should not be toyed with by political class for personal gains at the expense of our peace and unity.
We commend the bold steps taken by the military in alerting the public of its neutrality on the forthcoming general election.
We urge the military authorities across the country to strictly carry out the order of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olorinsakin, and arrest any unauthorised persons in uniform on election days.
We also urge that investigations into allegations of illegal importation of arms be thoroughly investigated and culprits brought to book immediately to serve as a deterrent to others who are bent on causing confusion.
This is most urgent, particularly, as credible intelligence report indicates that some people are planning to scuttle free and fair election in some parts of the country.
Let the warning be obeyed to the letter and spirit of its content such that “the Armed Forces of Nigeria will carry out its constitutional duties with zero tolerance to unprofessional conduct, and let no military personnel fraternise with any political parties and associations.
We appeal to service personnel including the police not to allow themselves be manipulated by the ruling party/government or those in opposition.
It is important for all staff taking part in the conduct of the election and supportive services to realise that their conduct will affect the credibility of the polls either positively or negatively.