The desperation for retaining status quo is being pointed out as politicians of the ruling class in Lagos, Kano and Kaduna are said to be fully prepared, throwing caution to the winds with their alleged plans to use armed thugs in ensuring that people’s will do not prevail in Saturday’s Governorship and House of Assembly Elections in their states.
The Chairman, Board of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Mallam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani raised the alarm, Friday in an exclusive internet voice interview with The DEFENDER.
Rafsanjani, who is also the Executive Director of the Civil Society and Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Country Head of Transparent International (TI), said his statement represented the worries of TMG and CISLAC.
He said, “We have this intelligence about politicians of ruling class resulting to use of thugs, armed with guns and bullets to make sure they force themselves on the people in tomorrow’s Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in states I will list to you here.
“In Kano, Kaduna and Lagos, they have made these arrangements and they want to scandalize and vandalize those places to undermine the election process especially in the strongholds of opposition.
“In fact, from the rumours that we are hearing, the last postponement had to do with their realization that people would not accept them. That was the reason for the postponement.
“But, let me be frank with you, based on what is on ground, if anywhere else will not resist, Kano will resist these undemocratic tendencies of forceful mandate taking. Because, Kano people are saying that they do not like what is going on. Even some of the APC members in Kano are not in support of what the APC is doing in Kano State because, it is all about violence.”
“So, this is to tell you that use of armed thugs is not only plan of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos but we also have it confirmed to you that it is also what they are planning to do. There are thugs all over. It doesn’t make sense that you should force yourself on the people. If the people have said, “No, we don’t want this party anymore, or they don’t want this candidate”, there is nothing you can do.
“But to use force, to use thugs and force people to follow your own choice, I don’t think it is a good development. Because, if the game changes tomorrow, how do you now complain? Would you say that you are being maltreated or that you have been treated unfairly whereas you are the one that inflicted this unfairness to yourself?” He asked.
The TMG Chairman said, “Even a House of Representatives member directing killing of people, burning people alive and Tinubu is welcoming him into his house and calling him ‘my son’.
“As a leader, you ought to condemn any act of violence. But, first and foremost, after he was arrested, you used your power to get him bail whereas, this criminal activity is not bail-able. But they brought him out, he went straight to Tinubu’s house and Tinubu was calling him ‘my son’. So, what message are you sending?
“His name is Al-Hassan Ado Dongwa, he is the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives. He is one of the most hopeless persons. He was the one who brought his four wives into the National Assembly.
“And before the election, he said that he needed N700 million to do his election. Nobody arrested him. And before the elections he was issuing threats of violence saying that, ‘Anyone who does not vote APC will be killed.’ It is all on record. So, there is no need for question of being accused of blackmailing him. No. Everybody knows him but I don’t know why security people have kept quiet.
“The fact that some people have resolved to make keep this democracy mutilated is reason we should sympathise with Nigeria as a country and show to ourselves as a people because, if we do not get the process of electing our leaders right, our condition will always remain the same in this country.
“So we need to make sure to do our own contribution by raising these issues and then making people realise that there is a great danger in the way they are doing these things. In some states, for trying to exercise your franchise you get beaten up and that is if you are lucky not to be killed. This is not good because this is not what democracy is about.
“I think we need to show our concern by raising these issues by warning people to say away from violence because, violence cannot take anybody anywhere. The worst part of it is that 99 percent of the people being used for the violence are never beneficiaries of anything useful by the people using them, after the elections.
“So I don’t know why some Nigerians are not thinking very well. You go and collect illicit money to go and kill yourself. In a place, somebody take ballot boxes and is shot dead, then what is the value of the money and what is the gain? Somebody gave you N10,000 to go and snatch ballot boxes and then you lost your life. What is the gain in that nonsense?
“So, I think as the conscience of the society, we need to continuously do our own little contribution towards ensuring that there is a peaceful process,” he said.
Speaking about Tinubu’s involvement in Lagos politics of instilling fear to the hearts of voters, even after “winning” the presidential election, in ways that burning down of spare parts market in Ajegunle, Lagos and threats by MC Olu-Omo and others such undemocratic activities have been witnessed, thereby committing voter suppression, Rafsanjani said, “let me tell you, even the President (Muhammadu Buhari) himself has not condemned it and he has not warned people not to use his name for their suppression here and there.”
He said, “What I always tell people when they ask me is to say, let us not get tired because if we get tired, we would see things worse than what we are seeing. So, let’s continue the little that God has given us a duty to do.
“To me, I see this as part of my contribution to the national assignment. I am not a politician, I have no link with any politician and I am not a beneficiary to any politician. I am saying my mind and I have no any religious or geographic chauvinism. I just want justice. I want fairness and I want every Nigerian to vote freely without being harassed or intimidated. That is all that I have been struggling to achieve in my three decades of struggle in Nigeria.
“So, I think we must not get tired because, when we say we are tired, we leave the space ungoverned, and I am telling you that we would see worse than what we are seeing today. Therefore, let’s not get tired of speaking the truth. God has given us the opportunity, the credibility and the integrity so that when we talk, people listen. There are some people, when they talk, people would say, “Oh, don’t mind them, they are bought over.” But, by the grace of God, when we talk, people listen. They respect us.
“I speak to many international media namely; BBC, Voice of America, Radio France, Al-Jazeera and even CNN, I talk to all of them and, by the grace of God, they continue to respect us and they continue to take our views done in accordance with our laws in this country”.