The participation of two foreigner governors (from Niger Republic) in a pro-Buhari rally in Kano on February 2, 2019 has generated heat in the polity.
“The PDP demands an urgent and thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to the presence of politicians and thugs from Niger Republic at the APC presidential rally in Kano last Thursday, fumed the PDP spokesman Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan,
“Our security agencies must immediately investigate and lay in the public domain the circumstances leading to their presence, which more or less confirmed that the APC has lost all domestic credibility and has assumed a desperate mode.
“The APC and the Presidency must immediately explain the roles being played by Issa Moussa, Governor of Zinder and his counterpart from Maradi, Zakiri Umar both of the Niger Republic, who were sighted decked in the attires and official logos of the APC, in our political affairs. President Buhari and the APC, in their desperation, have compromised our territorial integrity as a nation and this portends grave danger to our national security and the sanctity of our electoral process.
“Force a nation contending with insurgency and banditry, the involvement of mercenaries from neighbouring countries at the APC rally must be condemned by all and sundry. This is particularly against the backdrop of claims by President Buhari that killer herdsmen ravaging our nation are mercenaries who are infiltrating from the Sahel region, the PDP spokesman charged.
Apart from the party, a cross-section of Nigerians condemned the development on the social media, saying it could undermine the credibility of the poll in border states and as well as endanger national security.
Many of the commentators argued that it had given credence to claims that foreigners had been registered from neighbouring countries especially, Niger Republic, during the continuous voter registration exercise.
“Unscrupulous elements are already mobilising merchants of violence, including armed bandits and terrorists to orchestrate violence during the elections in several states of the federation. Miscreants who came from Niger Republic to President Buhari’s rally are being offered accommodation in our country by the APC to unleash violence immediately it is clear that President Buhari is losing
“Our apprehensions are accentuated by INEC’s recent mass creation of additional polling units which have not been properly designated and which may be deployed for the perpetuation of monumental electoral fraud. We note how Kano State, in 2015, delivered 1.9 million votes to the APC presidential candidate in circumstances devoid of transparency and credulity.
But the Director, Field Operations of the Buhari Campaign Organisation and former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has dismissed such claims saying “It is a free world and it is the constitutional right of everyone to be where he wants to be. You have no right to stop anybody from doing what he wants to do. People from West Africa are free to move into Nigeria.
“We have a protocol or agreement that they don’t need visa to come into this country. I know for sure that they don’t have to vote but as a free West African who believes that someone has done extremely very well, and decided to identify himself with what he believes in, I don’t think there is anything wrong and I don’t think there is any crime committed. You cannot and you have no right as a Nigerian to stop them from exercising their fundamental rights to identify with their friends.”
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, took a similar position with the PDP saying the participation of the foreigners was an affront to Nigeria’s sovereignty and abuse of diplomatic relations.
In a joint statement by Yinka Odumakin, South West; Prof Chigozie Ogbu, South East; Senator Bassey Henshaw, South-South; and Dr. Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt, the group said the action validated the desperation of the APC to deploy every untoward scheme to impugn the integrity of the forthcoming election.
“For an administration which recently lampooned Western diplomatic powers and bodies for criticising the unconstitutional suspension of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen from office, this is the height of duplicity and doublespeak.
“Never in our political history has our national security been so endangered in the name of politics and politicking, a situation which calls for an immediate investigation by relevant security agencies. The National Intelligence Agency, NIA, the Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA and the Department of State Services, DSS, must interrogate this development and report their findings to Nigerians whose best interests they swore to serve. Unholy philandering
“In a country which has been in the vice grip of accentuated terrorism, herdsmen killings, banditry and kidnapping in parts of the country especially since the advent of the Buhari administration, the kind of unholy philandering between Buhari and regional neighbours suspected of complicity in our internal security challenges, calls for introspection.
“Last year, President Buhari prioritised the construction of a rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger, at a time several aspects of our national infrastructure were and are still begging for attention. Maradi, the third largest city in Niger Republic and Zinder, are two prefectures in the country which are predominantly populated by Fulanis with a consanguineal relationship with Daura emirate, Buhari’s birthplace.
“As military Head of State in 1985, Buhari purportedly favoured Ide Oumarou, a diplomat from Niger, over and above Nigeria’s own Peter Onu, in the race for the position of Secretary-General of the African Union, AU, to underscore his consanguineous relationship and sentiments with and for the Nigerien Oumarou.”
In his reaction the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to disqualify President Buhari over what he termed importation of mercenaries. Secondus said “In Kano, Buhari brought mercenaries to vote and influence elections in Nigeria. I, therefore, call on INEC to disqualify Buhari for bringing mercenaries.”