2023 Elections and Garlands for the Nigerian Military
By MUKHTAR Ya’u Madobi
The 2023 presidential and national assembly elections have been won and won by candidates of various political parties.
But Nigerians should have no one to thank except God Almighty and our security agencies, especially the Armed Forces of Nigeria, AFN, for their relentless efforts in ensuring that the process is not marred by widespread violence.
Recall that prior to the election, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Lucky Irabor had on several occasions given his words that the election will be a successful one, devoid of any rancour.
He added that the military in collaboration with other security institutions will be on top of their games in ensuring that no Nigerian citizen is disenfranchised or intimidated while trying to exercise his constitutional rights of voting.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, former Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, penultimate Thursday, led the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)Election Monitoring Team to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja.
As election observers, the purpose of their visit was to engage with critical stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), civil-society and security agencies so as to have a conducive atmosphere for a peaceful, free and fair elections.
In his response, Irabor explained that the Nigeria Police Force, being a lead security agency with other paramilitary agencies at the forefront will have residual support of members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. He emphasized that the military will remain at the background of the election as demanded by the constitution which requires military aid in support of civil authority.
Furthermore, the CDS expressed optimism over the readiness of military and other security agencies to protect Nigerians during the elections. He assured the ECOWAS team of a hitch-free and successful electioneering process.
It is gratifying that the military has lived up to their expectations by providing security across the country while the polls are on going. Several military personnel were deployed to various locations especially the flash points areas where they mounted surveillance and supervised the conduct of the election.
For example, in my Local Government Area, Madobi, Kano State, I personally saw a very large military Patrol van conveying personnel across several polling units in order to ensure the safety of the electorates. This is in addition to other security forces like police, customs, civil defence, immigration and others who were stationed permanently to provide security in each of the polling stations.
As a result of this successful outing and professional display by the Armed Forces, the security institution has been receiving floodgates of encomiums by individuals and groups.
Notable among them is a civil society organisation, Election Monitoring Coalition (EMC), that commended the conduct of personnel of the military during Saturday’s February 25th Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The coalition gave the commendation in a statement signed by the Director, Monitoring, Bello Yahuza and Director, Politics, Yewande Amusa, last Monday, in Abuja.
They said their team specifically went out to assess the conduct of the military personnel on Saturday, and found them to have carried out their responsibilities with high ethical standards.
The coalition said that the reports from different parts of the country indicated that the armed forces kept to its promises, saying the military was not only apolitical, but also collaborated with other security agencies effectively.
“Generally, observers reported that the security personnel behaved and conducted themselves professionally.
“EMC gave kudos to the Chief of Defence Staff for building a military force with enviable records, especially in conduct during the electioneering period.
“All those who made different insinuations targeted at the top echelon of the Armed forces before the election have now realized their error,” they said.
The Coalition commended the military for the peaceful conduct of polls in the North East and South East, adding that nobody thought it would have been possible in the two regions.
As stated earlier, there were some public disorders in some places like Goza in Borno state where reports had it that Boko Haram insurgents attacked voters, a situation that led to the disruption of the process.
However, their evil plan was foiled by security forces and normalcy was restored, such that the electorate continued casting their votes. Not only in Borno, there were also other places where security breaches were experienced during the polls.
Nevertheless, the military ought to be commended and given accolades for their efforts, while at the same time we enjoined them to double their efforts in the forthcoming gubernatorial and state assembly elections scheduled for March 11, 2022.
Again, the military should strive to identify all the security loopholes. But more importantly, they should outline as well as implement measures of surmounting the challenges observed in last weekend round of general elections.
MUKHTAR is the author of a book on “National Security Strategies” and is a staff writer with the Emergency Digest.
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