Ahead of the 2023 general elections beginning Saturday, 25 February, 2023, PRNigeria has presented a ‘Security Report’ on the five major Presidential Candidates.
The select candidates are: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Alh. Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Peter Obi of the Labour Party; Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP); and Omoyele Sowore of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
The report titled, 2023 Elections: SWOT Analysis of Major Presidential Candidates and Security Matters,” was unveiled at PRNigeria’s Abuja Office, on Wednesday, 15 February, 2023.
The event took place during a press conference which was also attended by representatives of the military, security, and intelligence services.
The report was produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability Project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
The research study also identified States across the federation where political violence may erupt if proactive measures are not taken by security agencies and other relevant stakeholders.
In its report, PRNigeria, however, commended the Nigerian security agencies for deliberately choosing to remain neutral, fair, and apolitical in the build-up to the forthcoming general elections.
While presenting the PRNigeria’s report, Abdulsalam Mahmud, lead speaker of the press conference, explained that the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat, SWOT, Analysis they conducted was carried out with a view to ensuring relevant security agencies are informed about the frontline candidates’ profiles.
“And also, how their participation in the electoral process can affect the country’s fragile peace and unity, in the next few days, months, and even years ahead,” he said.
Mahmud, who is also the Deputy Editor of PRNigeria, noted: “As part of PRNigeria’s commitment to helping entrench Nigeria’s democratic space, through in-depth analysis of socio-economic issues and political events shaping the 2023 polls, we recently undertook a field trip to some States, across the country.
“The States include Rivers, Delta (South-South), Enugu, Imo (South-East), Lagos, Oyo (South-West), Kano, Kebbi (Northwest), Borno, Gombe (North-East) and Kwara, Niger (North Central).
“We also undertook virtual surveys/interviews on the fears and aspirations of the electorates in other states over the security situations ahead of the forthcoming elections.
“This was with a view to draw the attention of the security agencies, in particular, to the places we have identified as flashpoints prior, during, and even after the entire general elections”.
On his part, Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi, co-presenter of the PRNigeria’s report, said there have been reports of politically-motivated killings in some States of the Federation.
“In November 2022 for instance, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, reported that there were 52 cases of political violence across 22 states in one month.
“Between 2019 and 2022, hoodlums attacked more than 50 offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in 15 States. There have been cases of destruction of billboards, campaign vehicles, offices, and other property. Several campaign rallies have been violently disrupted and convoys attacked,” said Mukhtar, who is also a Staff Writer with Emergency Digest, a sister publication of PRNigeria.
In his goodwill message, the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi commended the PRNigeria for its efforts on security matters and crisis management in the country.
The police spokesperson observed that the environmental scanning and threats analysis would help to some large extent in alerting the security forces to consolidate their relentless efforts in ensuring hitch-free conduct of general elections and maintaining national security.
As the lead agency in ensuring internal security, CSP Adejobi emphasized that the police would sustain its collaboration with other stakeholders towards ensuring security nationwide.
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of Image Merchants Promotion Limited, Publishers of PRNigeria, Mallam Yushau Shuaib said that the major respondents of the report were in the media industry and the security sector who were more relevant to the study.
He also pointed out that the comprehensive report was submitted to relevant security services/agencies including the sensitive components of likely security threats in the event some of the notable candidates lose in the elections. He added that the abridged version was only presented at the press conference for awareness purposes.
Meanwhile, the PRNigeria report observed that the rash of unscientific opinion polls and partisan projections have heightened public anxiety and influenced extreme optimism among candidates and their supporters, which could undermine national security
It further disclosed that due to the naira crunch, the general elections may witness cashless vote-buying/trading where electorates would have free tickets after voting to obtain goods and services from retailing outlets.
While pointing out that ruling parties in some states have perfected plans to ensure victories for their candidates at all costs, it laments that the disturbing ethnocentric and religious sentiments in political campaigns have further created fear of potential violence during and after the election.
It added that since some electorates are of the view that their votes do not really count, either rightly or wrongly on the assumption that the outcomes of most elections are pre-determined, voter apathy may still be an issue in some places.