When I wrote on this platform, the 2019 general elections would be determined by “ anti corruption or competence” many thought I was playing politics.

Be it what it may, the real fear how the fight against corruption would turn the 2019 general elections dirty has started coming to the fore.

Reuben Abati in his opinion piece, “the spirit of error” in Nigeria politics, raised some of the concerns we were fearing will dominate the political agenda for 2019 general elections. According to him the announcement by the government to effectuate Executive Order No 6, under which “it proposes to place a travel ban on some yet unnamed and undisclosed Nigerians.

Under the Order, the government seeks to stop persons indicted for corruption from travelling abroad, and to attach their properties. The argument by government spokespersons that they are relying on a judgement by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja Federal High Court has been exposed for what it is: a lie, a ruse, an attempt to misinterpret the court, knowing that the judge is not likely to engage in a market-place explanation of its own ruling.

The Attorney General of the Federation can apply Executive Order No 6, only through the instrumentality of a Court Order. By by-passing the Court, the Executive arm seeks to be the judge, the jury and the executioner in its own case. It usurps the roles of the judiciary and the legislature, and serves notice of a return to dictatorship.

The Order as proposed has been correctly described as a reincarnation of the notorious Decree 2 of 1984 and a violation of Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution”.

He further highlighted that “The newspapers published a list of 50 names but the Executive has since announced that it has not published any list, but the people concerned know themselves.

The combined effect of this opaqueness is that the government has imposed a regime of fear on the people. A secret watch list which can be applied at will is an act of intimidation against the Nigerian people. It is reckless and unwise, because political intimidation is the worst, most brazen form of rigging! In an election season, it is scary.

As a strategy, it makes no sense. At a time when the President and his party need the people’s votes, an open subversion of the rule of law is not a good method of votes solicitation. Whoever chose this time to take Nigeria back to 1984, has only strengthened the resolve of those who are already whispering that a second term for President Buhari would translate into misery for Nigerians. Executive Order No. 6, rather than further advance the anti-corruption war, has merely promoted fear and intimidation as instruments of governance”.

The constant reminder by the President assuring the citizens of fair and free elections in 2019 in every fora he speaks recently, raises some concern as if there is something to the contrary.

The elections that were conducted in Osun and the party primaries especially those in Lagos, Zamfara and other states of the federation does not give comfort to that effect.

The hate write ups, the mud slinging, the mundane and un proven corruption claims in the social media on matters not decided by a court of competent jurisdiction used as campaign strategy is overtly over heating the polity.

The attack on the Clergy, the Mullah and Persons of good intentions who speak on how to improve the way we are governed are turning things upside down.

A livid example is the reconciliation effort spearhead by Reverend Father Kukah attended by Shiek Gumi between the former President Obasanjo, and Vice Atiku Abubakar the PDP presidential candidate. The governments spokes persons, in response went berserk accusing the duo for joining religion with politics.

The two clergy men had to come out to defend and exculpate themselves from the accusation labelled against them in the public court.

The claim made by the government during the 2018 Nigeria Bar Association Conference that “the rule of law could be violated and that the Supreme Court had given them the right to do so in the Asari Dokubo case is not good for the state of our law

Reuben, in the same article cautioned the anti corruption strategy would not fly the kite this time around, he said “ In 2014/15, the APC’s selling point was President Muhammadu Buhari. He was promoted as a nationalist, man of integrity and a reformed democrat. He promised to fight corruption and the people hailed him. They were tired of the PDP. They wanted change. Many believed in him as the messiah who will turn Nigeria around.

Close to four years later, President Buhari is now at that point where most Nigerian leaders find themselves, covered by that standard, unscientific excuse: “the good man who is surrounded by bad people, bad advisers and bad politicians.” The economy under his watch is slow and unproductive. In three months the country’s debt profile has jumped from N22. 4 triilion to $73.21 billion and the country wants to borrow more. Many Nigerians no longer consider that a good strategy. They are similarly skeptical about the war against corruption.

Senator Saidu Dansadau a front line politician the chairman of the National Rescue Movement said “the strategy that Buhari is the only incorruptible leader in Nigeria no longer sells

The notion being promoted that Buhari is the only credible person that can rule Nigeria is longer tenable. That all other politicians are thieves is a ruse.

Painting Atiku as corrupt, and the disposition that enabled him to be rich is contrary to the reality on ground. Their effort to create in the minds of every common man that anybody that is rich is corrupt is ludicrous and self serving.

Unfortunately, they have even gotten the clerics to preach that people who are rich to the level of Atiku are thieves”.
He added that people have forgotten that even in spiritual history, we were told by the Bible and the Quran, there were disciples and prophets of God who were rich.

Some were engineers and successful businessmen. That shows that business, entrepreneurship is a noble career. Since prophets and disciples in our spiritual history do businesses and they became very rich, it is wrong to assume that whoever is rich in the society is corrupt”.

He also testified that during his tenure as the Chairman, Public Accounts Committee of the Senate for two years and as a member of the committee for eight years, He was in a better position to know if there were any corrupt practices traced to Atiku.

To him therefore the campaign against Atiku being corrupt is a deliberate attempt to twist facts intended to get the buy in by the clerics and the press to promote the rhetoric”.

When we said the 2019 general election will be determined by “anti corruption or competence” we fore saw the strategy that was developing aimed at instilling fears in the mind of the citizens and to energise their base to come out and vote in spite of their misery and suffering.

The collective desires of the Nigerian people for issues based campaign seems to be fretting in the air as there were really no issues to discuss.

The only area which is less contentious for the government to embrace and build it 2019 campaign strategy is the fight against “corruption”. And the government has perfected this strategy so well by and using it to create “fear and scare tactics” that you don’t “give back the government to corrupt people”.

It uses, lies, deceit, misrepresentation of facts and attacks on the credentials of their opponents, all aimed at playing on the sensivity their base. They know this strategy works because people react to fear not the love for any one person. The options before Nigerians in the 2019 elections are two “anti corruption and competence”.

If you are a Buhari apologist you would embrace the anti corruption agenda as the best that has ever to Nigeria even though you know the intrinsic reason for anti corruption is merely a tactical move to scare intimidate, cajole energise people to remain in check so that they do not see the other bad side of the government.

But before you exercise your franchise be informed the difference between the “corrupt PDP government” citizens are brainwashed to accept and what we are witnessing in the APC government is to say the least marginal or non existent

Today if you want to avoid being the guest of the EFCC just ran to Presidency show your loyalty and you would be protected.

If you steal public funds and want to avoid being classified as corrupt pick the membership card of the APC or decamp to the party you would be cleansed and never to be labelled as corrupt. The anti corruption agencies would never go after you even at the prodding of the courts or public opinion.

Conversely, if you are the few remaining still looking forward to issues based campaign bordering on competency and capacity then you have to look beyond your idiosyncrasies and the scare tactics being popularised in media as agenda for political campaigns.

The government has shown in competence in dealing with the issues relating to the economy, power supply, in security, poverty reduction, hunger and un employment and above all its disregard for fiscal policy and budget implementation.

The governments failure is no longer in the realm of abstract but reality. The hopes that we held on believing Buhari was the messiah has evaporated and these has exposed the under belly of the government dismal performance in all the sectors.

Atiku has proved competence in all his business dealings and has handled all matters of State devolve to him diligently. You may hate him for being rich but certainly not corrupt or lack of capacity.

The choice for 2019 remains between “anti corruption and competence” the pendulum will tilt on either side depending on how wisely you vote.

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