In spite of the postponement of the presidential and other elections which would have taken place Saturday, 14th February, 2015; and Saturday, 28th February, 2015, students’ union leaders of tertiary institutions in the southwest of Saturday, 14th February, 2015, paid a courtesy visit to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, pledging to vote massively for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, 28th March, 2015.
The students spoke at the Lagos House Marina venue of the visit even as their host, Governor Fashola, urged them to ensure that they collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as the first step to realizing their aim adding that the coming general elections were not about ethnic or religious sentiments but about liberties and choices.
Addressing the students at the Banquet Hall of the Lagos House, Marina in Central Lagos, Governor Fashola told the students that marching for General Buhari would not amount to much unless they (the students) obtained their PVCs in readiness for the election adding that the card was something every Nigerian must wear as a badge of honour.
The Governor told the enthusiastic students, “Everyone must hold and cherish the PVCs with pride and get the feeling that he or she is anti-social without it”, adding that considering their numerical strength, the battle would have been half won if the students passed the message to all those connected to them to do the needful.
Noting that what Nigeria has in place today was a government, a party and a President “for whom the spoken word means nothing”, Governor Fashola declared, “The next elections in Nigeria is not about tribe or religion but about liberties and choices”, adding that a reflective look at what has happened in the past and comments from the top echelon of government have shown so much inconsistencies on several grave national issues such as the missing funds, Chibok Girls and Boko Haram.
“It is beyond an APC/PDP issue. It is about the fact that our lives, our country and our future are in the hands of some wrong people. If it were just a party affair, it would have been a bit simpler”, the Governor said adding that the import of the prediction by some people, few years ago, that Nigeria could cease to exist in some years to come is the possibility that institutions might just stop functioning as it was now being observed.
He described as “internal subversion” the tabling of the issue of the election dates before the National Council of States meeting pointing out that while it could be acceptable that no election could be perfect anywhere in the world, sloppiness was unacceptable. He added, “In a situation where people whose sole job is to secure everybody now admit they cannot, it is nothing but institutional failure.
“The situation could be likened to a professional chauffeur who says he cannot drive. They (security chiefs) have only one option which is that they should have taken the path of honour of surrendering their commission”, Governor Fashola said.
According to the Governor, “It is regrettable that Nigeria now requires help from neighbouring countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroun to protect her citizens while vital institutions like the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) cannot hold successful elections anymore”.
Noting that deception has now given way to desperation “as President Goodluck Jonathan’s government that begged to come to power is now desperate to fight to stay in power”, the Governor wondered why soldiers should be used for providing security during elections adding that, if indeed it was about a genuine desire to serve, there should have been no desperation about it at all.
“What the PDP-led Federal Government has failed to realize is that some of its decisions are having far reaching implications on the nation”, he said citing the crash of the Stock Market and the falling of the Exchange Rate as examples.
The Governor said if available reports were anything to go by, the United Arab Emirates was already tightening the noose by applying restrictions on Nigerians coming into the country in anticipation of what might happen in Nigeria that may precipitate mass human flight.
Other implications arising from the decision to shift the elections, Governor Fashola said, include the fact that many companies that had indicated their intentions to recruit people from March this year after the elections have now been compelled to shift the date to May because of the new election dates.
“The resolve of the All Progressives Congress and other lovers of Nigeria is about getting the soul of the nation back from a government and party that is so deficit in morality”, the Governor said adding that if the various substantial sums said to be unaccounted for had meant anything to the Federal Government there might not have been a need for the clamour for change.
He counseled those receiving inducements such as rice and kerosene in order to vote for a particular party to desist since, according to him, “they are only getting what is due to them”, adding that instead of getting those materials once in four years, they could have them every day when they would be able to afford the kerosene by collecting their PVC and voting according to their conscience for the APC.
Governor Fashola declared, “Despite the several attempts to denigrate the person of General Muhammadu Buhari, one attribute which he brings to the 2015 elections which the PDP is lacking is integrity. With several recorded instances like the Ekiti audio tape that has gone viral, the withdrawal of security from INEC and signs of intolerance and deception, it is clear that the PDP has lost the moral authority to continue to govern.
“The shift in election dates is only the first step to other deceptions aimed at rigging the elections in favour of the PDP but the deception is over now because the road is getting to its end”, the Governor said.
Earlier, while speaking, some of the students’ leaders, including a former National President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Mr. Damilare Lawal, declared their support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) saying the party was far better than the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Calling for vigilance, he noted that there are several means by which elections could be rigged. According to the former National President of NANS, the recent shift in election dates constituted a form of rigging which could be described as structural rigging adding that the onus was now on the APC to ensure that it prevents the PDP from rigging out the candidates of the party from victory in the next General Elections.
Also speaking, another students’ leader, Comrade Gbadebo Fagbemi, described the postponement of the elections as a major rape on democracy in Nigeria, adding that students wanted to go round the streets of Lagos to register their displeasure over the shift and also preempt the Federal Government over any similar antics in future.
Urging Nigerians to resist any attempt to reenact the June 12, 1993 debacle, Fagbemi assured that the students would also ensure that they “reached some unreached parts of the hinterlands” to let the Federal Government understand that the new dates of the elections must remain sacrosanct.
Another students’ leader, Mr. Balogun Ismail, said all the students were ready to march for General Muhammadu Buhari on March 28 adding that the change must come “with Nigerians demonstrating that the power of the people is more than the power of the government”.
He encouraged Nigerians not to allow themselves to be intimidated but to ensure that not only would Nigeria witness a free and fair election but would also witness a free and fair voting process.
The breakfast meeting, which attracted students’ leaders from all the higher institutions in the southwest, also had in attendance the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor, Mr. Hakeem Bello; and the Special Assistant to the Governor on Students Affairs, Mr. Hakeem Animashaun, amongst others.