Ballot Snatching: Buhari’s comment not license to kill – NLC

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By Joan Nwagwu

Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment on dealing summarily with ballot snatchers or arsonists in upcoming elections is not a license to kill.

President of the congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, stated this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

According to Wabba, the president’s comment to deal summarily with ballot snatchers or arsonists is not a license to kill. It is intended to deter trouble makers.

“We insist on strong institutions for the sustenance of our democracy,’’ he said.

Wabba, however, called on Nigerians to avoid violence during the Presidential and National Assembly elections across the country on Saturday.

He said that as Nigerians went to the polls, they must exhibit the finest traditions, highest values, utmost sense of responsibility and unflagging patriotism in them.

“The respectability we crave in other lands depend not on how many barrels of crude oil we export in a day or how populous we are or how many billions of dollars we illegally siphon outside the country.

“It is on the choice we make and how we make that choice – cast our vote wisely or sell it for pittance; cause violence or exhibit decorum; levy war or wage peace; eschew egotism or elevate it.’’

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The labour leader noted that all candidates in the polls had the potential to win or to lose, but that the decision rested not with the candidates but the electorate.

He said that it was, therefore, infantile or naive for some candidates to assume that they could not lose.

“The moment of truth has come, and we must of necessity perform our civic duty in fulfilment of our beliefs or in betrayal of them.

“Our conduct will reveal our true identity, betray our intentions and test our claim to nationhood.

“We, therefore, challenge you the candidates, politicians, supporters, security personnel and INEC to be of utmost good behaviour and ethical standard.

“You are also to conduct yourselves with civility, humility, truth and abide by the rule of law,’’ Wabba said.

He also called on Nigerians to remember the oft-rehashed phrase, that the victory or loss of any candidate was not worth the blood of any Nigerian, not even the blood of a chicken.

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He said that people should remember that nobody’s ambition was worth a square millimetre of Nigeria’s territory, adding “we similarly want to inform all and sundry that we cannot hold political offices without peace or country.

“We appeal to all to note that when we sponsor or stoke violence we cannot predict its course or end. We should therefore do all that is necessary to prevent it.

“We urge all Nigerians to note that we are going to the poll and not war, and they should accordingly tone down their rhetoric or blood pressure.

“In this contest, there must be losers and winners, and we do not need to rig to win or snatch ballot boxes or cause mayhem to be reckoned with.

“As those things do not project our strength or power but primitivism, primordial mentality and our weakness,’’ he said.

Wabba urged INEC to be fair, impartial and just, to all parties or contestants, saying that the onus rested on it to conduct free, fair and credible elections and earn the confidence of the electorate.

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He called on the electorate to vote according to their consciences and beliefs and not according to primordial or sectarian sentiments or emergency seductions.

“We at the Nigerian Labour Congress believe that the citizens cannot complain afterward if they do not vote or vote wrongly.

“In the light of this, we urge you not to sell your vote or allow yourself to be used to foment trouble.

“We similarly urge agents not to buy votes, for it shows your candidate is neither deserving of the votes nor worthy of leadership that he or she seeks. We insist, cause no trouble.

“Take evidence and use established channels of communication,’’ he said.

The labour leader commended accredited observers for the elections for their patience and tenacity of purpose, and urged them to continue to be vigilant and remain faithful to their role in the process. (NAN)

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