​Bayelsa: Military officers’ partisan role threat to Nigeria’s democracy

Bayelsa State government on Friday warned that the partisan involvement of military officers in national elections was a huge threat to the survival of democracy in Nigeria.

Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State

The state government said that the nation’s security personnel ought to be neutral and promote free, fair and credible elections instead of openly supporting the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Gboribiogha Jonah, the Bayelsa State deputy governor, stated the state government’s position in an interview with newsmen, shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus members met with Governor Seriake Dickson at Government House, Yenagoa, on Friday.

He urged the Federal Government to ensure that security operatives, especially the Nigerian Army, do not engage in partisan politics as they did in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections.

Jonah, a retired Rear Admiral of the Nigerian Navy, condemned the partisan role played by military officers in favour of the APC during the polls, stressing that their action was an impediment to democratic freedoms of citizens.

Lamenting the violence that marred the just-concluded elections in some parts of Bayelsa, the deputy governor urged the people who fled their homes to return and participate in the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly polls.

He stressed the need for the nation’s security personnel to resist the temptation to be involved in the forthcoming elections.

Jonah stated that election was an important ingredient of development that must be handled with utmost care for sustainable peace and progress to thrive in the country.

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He called on the leaders and supporters of the APC to give peace a chance in subsequent elections for the interest of the state.

Jonah also drew the attention of the Federal Government to how security operatives attached to pipeline surveillance contractors had always been used by some politicians against their opponents.

He, therefore, called for their withdrawal a day before any election takes place.

Jonah said, “We are appealing to security agencies to play a more neutral role. We are not saying that the Army should support the PDP or any party. But all we are saying is that our people should be allowed to come out and vote for any candidate of their choice.

“So that whoever emerges as the winner as prescribed in the electoral law will be accepted by all. Peace is what we are looking for. So, we are also appealing to our friends in the APC to give peace a chance.

“Resorting to guns and other dangerous weapons will not help us. We are hearing they are planning to do more, but we just want to see that as a mere rumour. But if that happens, then that will be very unfortunate.

“The Army should know that in election matters they don’t play a direct role. It is the civil police that does that with the Army only playing a supportive role.”

Godknows Igali, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary and former Nigerian Ambassador to the Scandinavia, explained that the meeting, which was also attended by the PDP candidates for the House of Assembly elections, deliberated on the need for a peaceful, free and fair conduct of the forthcoming elections.

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