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Nigeria’s fate tied to outcome of 2015 polls —Amb. Obiozor •Nwanyanwu, Ozekhome clash over call for polls shift

By News Express on 04/02/2015

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Former Ambassador to the United States and one time Director-General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos, Prof. George Obiozor, has said that the outcome of the February 14 general elections would determine whether the country will break up or remain one united entity.  

The two were among lead speakers at the one-day symposium, organised by the Herbert Macaulay Centre for Advancement of Democracy in Abuja, the federal capital, on Monday.

In his keynote speech, titled ‘National Confab and the 2015 General Election’, Prof. Obiozor said that nothing is more disturbing than to see citizens begin to debate the future of their own country, and, at that point, they begin to question the basis of their loyalty to the country or its leadership.

His words: “There is no denying that there is injustice in our country and history teaches us that throughout history, those denied justice have had no interest in peace. There must be justice before peace or all our efforts to keep Nigeria united will eventually be in vain.”

Obiozor added that it was only when Nigerian leaders provide a Constitution that transparently emphasises the doctrine of inclusiveness, equity and justice for all citizens, focused on decentralisation and devolution of power that the country would be brought into the club of modern democratic governments; and unity in diversity

In his contribution, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Labour Party, Dr. Dan Nwanyanwu, noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not ready for the 2015 general election.

He argued that there are many factors that could hamper successful conduct of the election, insisting that many prominent Nigerians and other citizens in many states have not got their permanent voters cards (PVCs). Nwanyanwu, therefore, canvassed shifting the elections to a new date within the 90 days stipulated by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The Labour Party boss also asked President Goodluck Jonathan to give the military the required order and the support to ensure that the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East are totally crushed before giving INEC the go-ahead to hold any election.

But human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has a contrary view.

In his paper, ‘Federalism, Judiciary and a New Constitution’, he said that any attempt to postpone the February elections would mean a victory for Boko Haram. “Posting the elections is like posting the evil day. I don’t believe in election postponement. INEC should brace up,” Ozekhome said.

On his part, Col Tony Nyiam (rtd) regretted that the military is facing a hostile media, hostile opposition politicians and corruption, in its battle against the Boko Haram insurgents “misconceived as a rag tag army.” He warned the Nigerian military against seeking to take undue advantage of the ongoing security challenges occasioned by Boko Haram insurgency. In his words, “If you jump in, you will not have a united army. What will follow will be instability.”

Nyiam lamented the fact that the military is facing problems such as hostile media, hostile politicians and corruption. But Nyiam noted that it was the faulty recruitment that has given rise to soldiers running from battle fronts as Nigerians are witnessing now.

He equally cautioned against the misconception of Boko Haram: “The sect, contrary to widely held views, is not a rag tag army.” On the contrary, Nyiam said there is an international dimension to the insurgency, as the influence of Al Qaeda has spread to West Africa. He drew a parallel between the crisis in Mali and the unfolding insurgency in Nigeria, noting that it will be a strategic blunder to think holding elections only will solve the fundamental problems bedevilling Nigeria.

Other speakers included Prof. Chinweizu, who was represented by Yinka Odunmakin; Ibiba Don-Pedro, Comrade Musa Aliyu, former INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, Mr. Femi Okunrounmu, and Maureen Chigbo.

•Photo shows, from left; Chairman of Session, Sen. Femi Okurounmu; Presenter, Prof. Marien Tenuche; and Sen. Nimi Barigha Amange at the symposium on National Confab and 2015 General Election.

Source News Express

Posted 04/02/2015 10:08:41 PM

 

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