A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has warned that the March 28 and April 11 elections may be sabotaged by anti-democratic forces, which could lead the military to stage a coup d’etat and set in place an interim government.
Mr. Falana, who stated this in a speech delivered at the Foursquare Gospel Church owned Life Theological Seminary, Ikorodu, on Sunday, said despite assurances by President Goodluck Jonathan and the Independent National Electoral Commission, there was no indication that the election will hold as billed.
He also warned of the likelihood of post-election violence should the vote go forward.
Both President Jonathan and the Independent Electoral Commission chair, Attahiru Jega, have maintained that the new election dates are sacrosanct.
“There is no indication that the election will hold,” he said. “If the INEC goes ahead with the conduct of the elections there are fears that the exercise may be sabotaged by anti-democratic forces. If the election holds the results may be rejected leading to a post-election violence which may threaten the corporate existence of the nation.
“In the circumstance, an interim government may be established and be saddled with the task of preparing the country for another political transition. In the alternative, a coup d’etat that may be staged by the top echelon of the armed forces under the pretext of restoring law and order and fighting the menace of insurgency. The military wing of the ruling parties succeeded in Mali and Burkina Faso. But having divided the country along ethnic and religious lines, the masterminds of the political crisis are not likely to profit from the perfidy.”
He therefore, asked Nigerians to prepare “for a long drawn out battle for the liberation of the country from political and economic predators”.
In his speech, the lawyer commended the renewed onslaught against the deadly terror group, Boko Haram, in the North-East region of Nigeria by both the federal government and the Nigerian military.
He, however, asked the military to discontinue the court martial of several solders who had earlier complained about lack of sophisticated weapons to face the insurgents.
He said the government’s admittance that it purchased new equipment for the fight to succeed, meant that the soldiers were justified in the earlier protest.
He also asked the Federal Government to implement the recommendations of the Ambassador Usman Gilmatiri presidential panel on insurgency in the north east region and embark on a special programme to address the problems of child education and youth unemployment in the region.
On the state of the nation’s economy, Mr. Falana said the bulk of the intervention funds created by the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration was for the rich.
According to Mr. Falana, the funds including- Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (N69billion); Commercial Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (N200billion); the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (N200billion); Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme (N200billion); the SMEs Restructuring and Refinancing Scheme (N200billion) and Power and Airlines Intervention Fund (N300billion) are yet to have effect on the economy.
“Sequel to the crash in the price of crude oil the Federal Government announced that austerity measures would be imposed on the hapless Nigerian people,” he said. “Because of the gross mismanagement of the economy by the government and its allies workers are now salaries for months. After the elections the people are going to be made to bear the brunt of the looting of the treasury and costs of running the government.
“But in spite of the grinding poverty in the land Nigerian legislators are said to be the highest paid in the world. The country’s public officers equally receive the highest estacodes in the world. With over 10 aircraft Nigeria has the largest presidential fleet among the developing nations in the world.”
The lawyer also accused the Central Bank of Nigeria of “dollarization of the economy”.
“In a bid to dollarize the economy and destroys the Nigerian economy the CBN supplies millions of dollars to the foreign exchange market on a weekly basis,” he said. “Although Nigeria has become the largest importer of the United States dollars in the world neither the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nor the World Bank has ever questioned the reckless devaluation of the economy. Even, the National Assembly which is debating the 2015 Appropriation Bill has not deemed it to consider the deleterious effects of the increasing devaluation of the national currency on the implementation of the Budget.”
The media was also not left out as Mr. Falana accused the media of diverting attention from Nigeria’s problem of youth unemployment, infrastructural decay, insecurity, corruption, currency devaluation to giving undue prominence to the campaign of calumny and character assassination embarked upon by some politicians.
“The media have thrown caution to the winds by colluding with certain politicians to divert attention from the crises of youth unemployment, infrastructural decay, insecurity, corruption, currency devaluation etc,” he said. “Thus, by giving undue prominence to the campaign of calumny and character assassination embarked upon by some politicians the media have denied the Nigerian people the opportunity to make informed decisions on the candidates of their choice.”