The United States of America has berated top Nigerian politicians including the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for making threat comments ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States.
While the governorship election in Ekiti State is expected to hold on June 21, that of Osun has been slated for August 9.
Recall that during his investiture as Chancellor of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, last month, Tinubu had threatened that it would be “rig and roast” in the forthcoming elections as the party would no longer go to the court to reclaim its mandate.
The ex-governor of Lagos State was quoted as saying: “No government that wants people’s votes will be doing what they are doing. They are already planning to rig the elections but be ready to protect your votes; nobody serves you freedom a la carte. It is going to be rig and roast.
“We are prepared not to go to court but to drive you out. We will not take it anymore. If you mess up in Ekiti and Osun states, you will see our reactions. For every action, there must be a reaction”.
But, the US in a statement entitled, ‘Countering the crisis of credibility’, by its Consul General, Jeff Hawkins, wondered why politicians keep making elections incredible in Nigeria.
Hawkins, who said the US had been watching the Nigeria political scene closely for about two years, warned Nigerian politicians not to incite violence and break the law.
The diplomat said, “The sponsorship of violence and intimidation, and the rhetorical threat thereof, are utterly unacceptable in a democratic society, and need to be expunged once and for all from the Nigerian polity and discourse. The US has been deeply troubled by some of the rhetoric that has been thrown around in recent weeks and months as these elections have drawn closer. It is perfectly acceptable, and even praiseworthy, to seek to defend your vote and that of your fellow citizens who share your support for a particular candidate.
“It is not, however, productive or reasonable to threaten violence, even when you perceive others have been guilty of misconduct. We were deeply troubled by the threat of “rig and roast” issued multiple times by a major political figure in recent weeks. Who benefits from that type of violent rhetoric, we wondered? And why would any ordinary Nigerian accept such provocative language, especially considering the history of post-election violence in Nigeria, and the truly horrific carnage that this country has been suffering at the hands of Boko Haram?
“If a candidate believes an election is threatened, then that candidate should be doing everything possible to see that the rules of the game are enforced properly – by having party agents in the numerous locations where they are permitted, for example, to bear witness to what happens – or doesn’t happen. That is part of the painstaking work of participating in, and building, a democracy. Drawing on or threatening violence is an attempt to short-circuit that process for the benefit of a few, but to the detriment of many”.
The US Consul General lamented that no election had been generally accepted to be credible in the country with the exception of the 1993 elections, which the late Moshood Abiola won but was annulled.
While urging Nigerian politicians to emulate their US counterparts, Hawkins added, “It is undoubtedly important and interesting to see who the winners and losers in Ekiti and Osun will be, and how the outcomes will affect the national political picture in advance of next February’s elections.
“Nigerians have fought long and hard to earn the democratic rights they now possess, and Nigerians want – and deserve – peaceful, credible elections in Ekiti on June 21, in Osun on August 9, and across this great country in February 2015. That’s why these elections are a critical juncture. Every Nigerian – from the party leaders and candidates to average citizens – should do everything in his/her power to help meet those expectations, and thereby counter this crisis of credibility”.