Anambra Governor, Willie Obiano raced to Aso Villa in Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday barely 24 hours after the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami SAN, threatened the imposition of a state of emergency in Anambra State to prevent the growing insecurity in the state from affecting the November 6th gubernatorial election.
After meeting with the President, Obiano told reporters that Buhari was not in support of Malami’s statement that “no possibility is out ruled by the government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our elections in Anambra holds, and you cannot out rule possibilities inclusive of the possibility of declaration or state of emergency where it is established, in essence, that there is a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of lives, properties and democratic order”.
Before the visit to Aso Villa, the Federal Government’s threat to impose an emergency rule on Anambra State rightly provoked outrage and umbrage from Nigerians. This angst thawed when Obiano disclosed that his meeting with Buhari showed that Malami was on a frolic of his own when he threatened what even the executive arm of government cannot constitutionally do on its own. If eternal vigilance is the price for liberty, then Nigerians must stay on this matter, considering that this was the same President who asked interviewers on national TV: “you want me to contradict my attorney-general?”
This newspaper recalls that when Malami was accused of writing an 18-page memo dated May 4, 2021, demanding the suspension of the constitution and the imposition of a state of emergency in the country, he stoutly denied this allegation and described himself as “a true democrat who believes in rules of law and tenant of democracy and Constitutional order”. Believing that the kite being flown by the AGF has now been shot down by the President, is wishful because the Federal Government came out on Friday to endorse the AGF’s threat.
According to the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, “Those who are criticizing the AGF on this, have they thought for one minute what will happen if the election does not take place in Anambra state on November 6? They should bear in mind that under our constitution, a governor cannot spend an extra day beyond the mandate of four years. What will happen will be a constitutional crisis of immense proportion.”
Naija News cannot understand why the Information minister will be this alarmist when Section 25 of the Electoral Act stipulates that “Elections to the office of the Governor of a State will be held on a date not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of term of office of the last holder of that office”. INEC still has the leeway to shift the date for the Anambra governorship election from November 6 to whenever the coast is clear. Given the unlikely event that the security situation in Anambra will become so dire that it would be impossible to conduct the gubernatorial election, the Constitution makes provision for the Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly to step in when Governor Obiano’s tenure elapses, and govern the state for a stipulated period during which election would have been conducted.
Naija News is worried that the Federal Government is supposing such a worst-case scenario in a state that has been largely peaceful until recent times. Mohammed’s statement does not seem to take cognizance of Operation Golden Dawn recently launched by the Army in the South-east, neither does it express confidence in the troops’ ability to restore peace to troubled spots in Anambra State. Objective Nigerians cannot but wonder why the sledgehammer is readily dangled or slammed when it’s about fighting flies in the South-east. How can the Buhari government be mooting a state of emergency in Anambra State when there are parts at the mercy of bloodthirsty bandits and terrorists?
Pray, how bad is the security threat level in Anambra vis-a-vis Niger State where the Chairman of Shiroro LGA, Suleiman Chukuba recently disclosed that over 500 communities in his LGA have been taken over by Boko Haram insurgents. Terrorists who are having a field day in Nigeria’s ungoverned territories are even forcing locals not to recognize any constituted authority. As of June last year, former Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Usman Yusuf, disclosed that parts of northern Nigeria are “under siege and terrorized by rampaging bandits and insurgents”, for which he said President Buhari must be held accountable.
“They roll into our towns and villages in convoys of motorcycles riding three on each, brandishing AK47 rifles with impunity. They spend hours killing, burning, raping, carting away livestock and abducting women as sex slaves. In many of these villages, they put taxes on the people and keep coming back again and again to attack because there is no law enforcement presence to protect them. The Police or Military always show up after the carnage to count the bodies,” Yusuf added.
It remains to be seen if the security situation in that region has improved ever since. There have been grim cases of insecurity in Zamfara, the President’s Katsina State, Kaduna and Sokoto where 17 communities and over 50,000 residents have reportedly relocated to Niger Republic over bandits’ attacks. It was so bad that Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, just like his predecessor, Abdulaziz Yari, opted to resign for an emergency rule to be imposed on their state. Why then didn’t the federal government impose an emergency rule on such places?
This explains why Nigerians were enraged or were suspicious when Malami and the federal government contemplate imposing an emergency rule on Anambra. While the duplicity is poignant enough and should roundly be criticized by conscientious Nigerians, the AGF’s interest in Anambra is typical of how the authorities in Nigeria behave when it comes to elections. Malami did not mince words that the deployment of any means necessary in the quest for a peaceful Anambra is so that election can hold as scheduled.
It goes to show that as far as the Nigerian establishment is concerned, elections trump everything else, including governance. Yet, elections will end up recording a low voter turnout due to the undue militarization of the process. It is this same obsession that made the Nigerian Communications Commission and the National Assembly recant and discountenance the high GSM network penetration in Nigeria to reject the electronic transmission of election results. It is so bad that the nation’s commercial nerve center was recently shut down because a municipal election was being held. Many foreign investors, in whose home countries the voting process is a mere routine, must have had a rethink about the country when they could not get into Lagos from the international airport until the evening of that local council election day.
Naija News condemns the Federal Government’s touting of the imposition of emergency rule in Anambra and call on the government to direct such extreme measure towards parts of the country that needs it most at this time. We however do not think Malami abdicated Federal Government’s responsibility when he highlighted Anambra State government’s failure in ensuring the sanctity of security of lives, properties, and the democratic order.
This news platform agrees that the Governor has a huge role to play in the restoration of peace to Anambra State. As the chief security officer of Anambra and going by the stupendous amount he has been collecting as security vote, Governor Obiano must work assiduously to justify both the title and vote. Ndi Anambra still have fond memories of how his predecessors, particularly Chris Ngige stamped out criminality in the state during their reign as governor. When Rivers State was in choking under the weight of insecurity, Governor Nyesom Wike rose to the occasion and ran the troublers of his State out of town. Obiano must bear in mind that the killings and arson attacks in Anambra State may be the defining moment of his stewardship. This Governor must do more to tackle the menace so that history won’t record that it was during his tenure that state of emergency was imposed on Anambra State.