By Emmanuel Edom
Stakeholders in security on Thursday called for violence free election as the 2019 General Elections approaches. They also Warn African Leaders Against sit tight Syndrome.
They made the call during the 2018 Annual Award/Lecture Ceremony organised by the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria CRAN themed: 2019 General Elections, The Security Challenges ahead.
The guest speaker, Mr Dennis Amachree, CEO Zoom Lens Security identified several possible issues that could lead to election violence adding that the main cause is African leaders who have failed to recognise democracy.
“The Nigerian people forget that democracy is a stranger to our system and we find it difficult to get it right. It is strange to our system just like asking a foreigner to consume our local food.
“When colonial masters left, our politicians came and felt that are the new monarchs and they believe that have to remain in power forever.
“It becomes so bad that you have history of African countries with presidents whom had been ruling for decades and still let their children take over after running the country to the ground.
“We may not have the monarchs but we have the genes in us.” he said.
He also attributed reasons for election violence to cases of anointed candidates.
“As the general elections approaches, we find out some people are anointed or selected instead of being selected. You will see a person called the Governor’s anointed candidate which is not supposed to be.
He also discussed how insurgency, underage voting, vote buying and proliferation of arms can be a problem in the coming election.
Amachree said political offices had been made too attractive which explains why politicians take election as a do or die affair.
“Politicians fight to get themselves into office not for Nigerians but for the same of their pockets. This is because when they get into office, they begin to enrich themselves.
“In other climes, you will to be voted before you become the Commissioner of Police but that’s not possible in Nigeria.
“Politicians won’t support state police just because they believe an opposition Governor will use them to his benefits.
“Security agencies are then left in a dilemma. This is why i keep saying we need to fight for the independence of security agencies.” he said.
He further condemned the weak justice system which had not adequately dealt with those guilty of election violence.
The former DSS boss encouraged security agencies to embrace synergy as the first step to tackling election violence.
He subsequently advised crime reporter’s to be diligent in their report and also investigate to tell the public the story as it is.
The President, Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN), Sunday Odita said that the event is coming at a time when election is approaching as the topic sought to discuss possible ways of tackling election violence.
“We are gathered here just like we have done in previous years principally to deliberate on a theme we consider politically expedient in the scheme of things in present day Nigeria.”
“Today’s topic was carefully chosen bearing in mind that our country is entering an election year. In essence, we are here to learn from persons who have paid their dues in security management.
“Over the years, our lectures had focused on relevant issues that called for expert discussions and recommendations arising from such have gone a long way in helping the relevant government agencies or authorities in finding solutions to the perceived challenges.
In past elections, Nigeria has faced several challenges much of which hinged on insecurity as violence either prior, during or after elections had reared ugly heads. Several lives were lost.
He added that the event is also to honour dozens of Nigerians silent heroes who have contributed in their modest ways to keep our lives and property secure.
The Chairman of the event, Dr Ubong King, said the population of the country keeps increasing but the size remains the same which gives rise to insecurity.
“In January, there was a report that 20,210 babies were born in one day. This means that those that were given birth to at churches, mosques and villages were not counted.
“The size of the country remains the same but the population keeps increasing. Insecurity becomes an issue because there will be hunger and ethnic rivalry so election rivalry is not new either before or after.
“We are already seeing signs. You will see on the social media that there are already challenges everywhere.
“Now, the people forget that the economy stops when election is here. Every business man and investor stop to see the outcome of the election.
“Once they pause and take out their money, there will be rise in hunger and thuggery becomes the other of the day so we should be ready.” he said.
The chairman also condemned the fact higher institutions in the country could only cater for few JAMB successful candidates while the NYSC can not also accommodate adequate number of graduates.
Dr King added that what becomes of the youth who find themselves in this situation saying that the rise of youth in this political season is something of interest.
“Are they running for the elections or that are running away?” he asked.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Edgal Imohimi who was represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Elkanah Yakubu said his security challenges for the coming election are the press.
The CP said that it is a good thing the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria CRAN, is holding the event which will serve as a medium to caution the press and the social media on accurate reporting.
“If the press reports the correct happening before and after the elections, am sure there will be less violence so I appeal to the press to help the nation move forward by reporting what is right.” he said.
The Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC who was represented by the Lagos Zonal Commander, ACG Dateer Andy also said that the press should join hands in tackling election security challenges.
He added that traditional rulers should also caution those around them since they are closer to the people.
According to him, every Nigerian should be security conscious as the election approaches due to the fact that population increases, job decreases and crime is on the rise.
The Controller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede who was represented by an Assistant Controller of Immigration, Olugbenga Ayegbusi said the importance of the event cannot be overemphasized as security is a business of all.
“Nigeria is on the match again and we cannot but look out and work towards eliminating possible election violence.
“We at the immigration service are not just about foreigners but about the security apparatus of the country. The problem is with Nigerians harbouring foreigners during election.
“Election is ours but it is unfortunate that during elections, you will see foreigners in possession of election materials which is an aberration.
“This has a negative effect on our country and it should be condemned by everyone not just security agencies. We should desist from allowing foreigners manipulate our election.” he said.
The event which was attended by CEOs of Nigeria Private Security agencies, the police, Immigration, NGOs and other security agencies had 80 personnel presented with award of excellence in their various jurisdictions.