Members of the Nigerian Armed Forces have been reminded of their oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria represented by its citizens and therefore to always eschew any act that will make them turn against Nigerian citizens under whatever guise. This reminder is contained in An Open Letter addressed to members of the Armed Forces by a frontline election support group Patriots United For Atiku (PUFA).
In the Open Letter jointly signed by its National President Mallam Umaru Muktar and National Organising Secretary Comrade Olabisi Ekundayo PUFA referred to the controversial directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari to members of the Armed Forces to deal “ruthlessly” with anyone involved in rigging or ballot box snatching and urged members of the Armed Forces to ignore the directive since they are duty bound not to carry out unlawful orders that pose ample threat to national cohesion and stability.
The Open Letter, copies of which were also sent to the Department of State Security and the Nigerian Police, recalled thus: “You have all heard the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari at the APC Caucus meeting on Monday the 18th of February urging members of the armed forces to deal “ruthlessly” with anyone involved in election rigging or ballot box snatching. Threatening that anyone caught in the act will be doing so at the “expense of his own life” PUFA stated that It is important to remind officers at different levels of command in the armed forces that the responsibility of ensuring that troops under them keep to international rules of engagement, as far as law enforcement is concerned, remain squarely on their shoulders. Professional military officers and commanders are not bound to execute orders that are manifestly unlawful no matter who issues the order. Those prosecuted for war crimes in the recent past were prosecuted individually without reference to those who gave the orders.”
While urging Nigerians to remain law abiding and to ensure peaceful Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday February 23, 2019, it condemned as reprehensible the order by Buhari to Armed Forces which if carried out to the letter will lead to very avoidable and loathsome extra judicial killings of Nigerians. PUFA, however, admitted that “Yes ballot box snatching and other forms of election malpractice must be condemned and those involved must be prosecuted according to the laws of the land. But Mr. President’s statement, no matter how well intended, sounds more like self-help and giving the security agencies licence to kill.”
In a related development PUFA have enjoined Nigerians to ensure the enthronement of a new era that will usher in a better Nigeria by voting massively for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Nigerians were also admonished to jettison base sentiments and put the country first by voting for Atiku, who was described, as a true democrat and an unblemished patriot. Reeling out what it termed “a litany of failures”
PUFA noted that President Buhari set the ball of incompetence rolling when it took him more than six months to assemble a cabinet. It cited the increase in petroleum product despite an earlier pledge not to do so by Buhari as the height of hypocrisy. PUFA claimed that they pervading high exchange rate of the naira to the dollar affirms the incompetence of President Buhari who had earlier promised outlandish naira-dollar parity. It regretted that the Buhari administration is on the path of enslaving Nigeria as it has in less than four years borrowed more than what the PDP administration borrowed in 16 years.
The group avowed that Nigeria is now perceived as the poverty capital of the world. It stated that worsening unemployment and grinding poverty have been the order of the day in a country that still ranks as one of the world’s biggest oil producer at a time that the price of oil in the global market continue to appreciate. It further alleged that the much talked about reforms in the petroleum sector has remained a pipe dream as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), a parastatal in the Petroleum Ministry, under the direct supervision of Buhari reeks of impunity and corruption.
PUFA also castigated what it termed “utter disrespect to the Rule of Law as exemplified by the flagrant disobedience of court orders and disdain for the Judiciary with most of its senior members routinely humiliated”. It further alleged that Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Amended Electoral Act is a pointer to his undemocratic inclination. The group also pointed to a fumbling Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that had to embark on an eleventh hour postponement of a scheduled election, the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as Head of INEC Collation centre as further confirmation of an intention to deprive the nation a credible poll. Zakari’s controversial appointment, the group asserted, is in line with Buhari’s penchant for lopsided appointments with scant regards to the principles of fair representation in a federal system of government.
On the anti-graft war of the Buhari administration, PUFA dismissed it as selective, geared at cowing Nigerians who are not impressed by government’s duplicity nor swayed by orchestrated propaganda. It termed the Trader-moni introduced by the government as “a vote-buying tactic that is taking bribery and corruption to a new height”. “Any wonder”, it regretted, “that the latest report of Transparency International still ranked Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations”.
To get Nigeria out of the woods, PUFA urged the electorate to vote for the Atiku/Obi ticket. It described the current situation of Nigeria as deplorable and that the Buhari government is essentially a “one man show even when the man is bogged down by age, limited in his vision and dictatorial in his disposition”. The group therefore urged Nigerians to switch to a situation whereby the country will be led by “a team of the willing and able” by voting for Atiku in the forth coming Presidential election.