Nigeria will on Monday May 29 transit from one civilian administration to another after a successful presidential election held on February 25, 2023. President Muhammadu Buhari will hand over the reins of power to the candidate of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu after serving 2 terms of 4 years each.
Significantly, it is an incontrovertible fact that the election was regarded as successful by local and international observers because the Nigerian military under the visionary and pragmatic leadership of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor provided the atmosphere for the conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections. It is on record that there was no single report of military personnel interfering with the electioneering process. Soldiers and officers deployed for election duties across the country conducted themselves in a professional manner. This is in fulfillment of the assurances given by General Irabor before the election. It was indeed a stellar performance by our gallant troops.
This was unlike past elections where the military is always enmeshed in one controversy or the other due to the unprofessional conduct of a few military personnel. This has over the years tarnished the image of the entire institution. In the past, the Nigerian military has been accused of meddling in elections, intimidating voters and in some cases aided in rigging elections. However, this time around, the narrative has changed, thanks to the gentleman under whose leadership the troops displayed a new level of patriotism, dedication, and service to the nation.
Also, in the build up to the election, so many nay-sayers and disgruntled elements in their usual characteristics predicted the reign of fire and brimstone during the election. Some even went as far as saying that there may not be Nigeria after the 2023 elections. The demons of democracy were up and running; rearing their ugly heads through mud-slinging and smear campaigns against their perceived political foes. The fear of violence was palpable.
Despite these fears, General Irabor, known for his boldness, declared that the Armed Forces of Nigeria was prepared to ensure a secured general election. Although the police is the lead agency for elections security, the Defence chief reiterated that the military has compared notes with other security agencies and assessed the entire situation thus declaring that, “we are good to go. The assessment is that we are set on all fronts. ”
Irabor also gave assurances that the security agencies would cover every part of the country to ensure peaceful elections, so that all eligible Nigerians could exercise their franchise, noting that contingency actions have been taken to address areas with peculiar security challenges, the defence chief warned those plotting to cause trouble during the elections to have a rethink, because “they will get a bloody nose.”
As a general that is known for standing by his words, he put mechanism in motion to ensure that his promise of providing a serene atmosphere for the conduct of a credible election came to pass. This was made possible through professional conduct of the Nigerian military inspired by the Chief of Defence Staff across the nation which saw the military along with the other services and agencies ensuring successful general elections. Reports from different parts of the country indicated that the Armed forces of Nigeria had kept to its promise and indeed not only was the military apolitical but collaborated with other security agencies.
Politicians and thugs who attempted to disrupt elections were dealt with irrespective of their party affiliations. As the bastion of our nascent democracy, our gallant troops stopped the enemies of Nigeria who wanted to ignite an ethno-religious and tribal war in the country hiding under the guise of elections. I once again salute the Defence chief under whose leadership the Nigerian military displayed a high sense of professionalism and loyalty to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when it matters the most.
There is no denying the fact that the military under General Irabor’s command has set a standard and templates for successive leadership of the military as far as election security was concerned. General Irabor has proven again and again that results will always be achieved with exemplary leadership. This template of dedication to fatherland must be meticulously followed by the military in the future for successful election security.
While we are grateful to the Nigerian military for their patriotism and commitment to democracy, we are thankful to General Irabor, under whose watch; conducting a peaceful election in Nigeria has been made possible.
Chuks Aziken writes from Abuja