An Open Letter To All Nigerians: It’s Time To Stand Up For Nigeria By Mallam Nasir El-Rufai

Text of press statement by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, after the APC Kaduna State stakeholders meeting, 25 March 2015

A historic moment beckons on Nigeria as we approach the 2015 elections. Our country stands poised delicately between breakthrough and breakdown, between the catharsis of renewal and the tragedy of hopelessness. Millions of Nigeria would be choosing renewal and hope, banishing fear and embracing the future.

The question is whether they will be not be obstructed in making this choice, and whether the choice would be respected once made. The conduct and utterances of the PDP leadership does not inspire confidence that they are committed to a credible electoral process. As regrettably demonstrated by the Ekitigate tape, President Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP government has no respect for the professionalism, dignity and integrity of the people in our military and security services. To anchor rigging plans on using the personnel and material assets of these services amounts to using the institutions that should protect and secure the country as wreckers. The lack of accountability for the Ekiti rigging fiasco, the absence of the redemptive possibility of remorse and the unwillingness to fully investigate and prosecute the key actors fill us with dread. When such baleful conduct goes unpunished, it can only mean that it is the default modus operandi of the perpetrators. And that is not the sort of behaviour that can produce a free, fair and credible election.

That is why we are deeply worried by reports that the leaders of the security sector have jettisoned every appearance of impartiality for Saturday’s presidential election. Chatter in informed circles has it that General Kenneth Minimah has sworn to use the soldiers and equipment of the army to promote President Jonathan’s cause. That is both improper and illegal. The Nigerian army should not be reduced to stormtroopers for a president beleaguered by his own sorry record of six years of incompetence. Minimah might feel a sense of gratitude that Jonathan made him army chief, ahead of 14 of his seniors. But the constitutional power bestowed on presidents to nominate or appoint senior officials does not oblige the appointee to behave like a lapdog or be incapable of functioning with integrity, professional dignity and respect for the law.

Minimah is certainly not alone in abandoning the sanctity of his oath. A slew of generals and security chiefs have clearly narrowed their duty to protecting Jonathan from defeat. Military commanders and police officers are sounding not merely like PDP partisans. They are acting like operatives of the armed wing of the PDP. They have paid little attention to the likely consequences of their actions. Interfering with the election, both in terms of process and the integrity of the result, is a sure recipe for disaster. That is a step that will certainly set the country on fire, and not just in ways we can all foresee.

Tainted and stolen elections will set this country back. It will destroy lives, wreck the economy and lead to perpetual instability. And the contours of that anarchy are not predictable.

This country has suffered enough. The people of this country stood up for the Constitution to make Jonathan acting president against the machinations of the Yar’Adua cabal. Jonathan went ahead to fritter the good will, and he set a new marker for incompetence and for not giving a damn. The Constitution should not be subverted to illegally prolong the stay of a poor performer who only made it that far because the Constitution was upheld.

Nigerians have realised that Jonathan simply does not care. He is not bothered about the welfare and security of Nigerians. All he is obsessed about is avoiding defeat. And he does not care if the country is sacrificed for him. Enough is enough.

We urge all military and security officers to stand up for the Constitution, the rule of law and the peace and unity of this country. They should resist all illegal orders to subvert the electoral process or to tamper with results. They should ignore orders to violate the liberty and lives of political opponents. They all swore an oath to defend Nigeria. This is one moment to show they respect the obligations of that oath. It is time to stand up for Nigeria.

Kaduna, 25 March 2015

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