The Coalition for Democracy and Good Governance has hailed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai and the Nigerian Army over responsiveness to protecting Nigeria’s democracy and the sovereignty of the country.
The group, therefore, called for continuous loyalty amongst troops to constituted authority before, during and after the elections.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, Emmanuel Itodo, the Executive Director of the group, said since the directive for the military to ruthlessly deal with ballot snatchers it observed that the Nigerian Army has risen to the occasion, particularly in the way it has intensified operations to counter incidents that could have undermined the elections.
According to him, "Such calls condemning President Buhari’s directive came from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who even went to the absurd extent of asking the Army to disregard the directive was totally unacceptable to close watchers of events around the county.
This is sad as it betrays the desperation of Atiku who now wants the country to be set ablaze since it has become clear that he is likely to come a distant third in the election.
"We wonder how he would react to the military disregarding his orders if he were the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Benue state governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, also asked the Army to disregard the President even though the same Army continues to save his state from the self-inflicted violence that has gripped the state.
"The people he armed under the guise of being herdsmen had unleashed attacks on the state and it took the intervention of the Army to curtail them. One can only wonder what the outcome would have been if the Army had gone with his request not to shoot at anyone, even those that are carrying weapons just as would be ballot box snatchers will do.
The confidence that the Coalition for Democracy and Good Governance has in the Army and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has increased with the way he has handled the situation in which members of the opposition are asking him to politicize the military by siding with them and disregarding the directive from the C-in-C.
"Our confidence is informed by the professionalism and apolitical nature of the current Nigerian Army under Lt. General Buratai.
"We are pleased that he has made it amply clear that the Nigerian Army is not on sale to the highest bidder. The PDP and Atiku Abubakar should at this stage get the message clearly that the Army is not the same as some of the compromised electoral officers that trampled on patriotism upon being paid in dollars.
"The Army is also not the same as foreign agents masquerading as foreign observers that shamelessly became the spokespersons for a corrupt opposition. Both classes of compromised persons are not interested in protecting the sovereignty and integrity of Nigeria, which the Army has sworn to protect and is doing a good job of.
"General Buratai must however be wary as the PDP has continued to put officers under pressure of monetary and career inducement. He should leverage on intelligence reports to conduct hourly risk assessment until the elections are over. This is because the PDP has promised some officers in the Army dollar payment in six and seven digits once they agree to allow ballot snatching under their watch in contravention of President Buhari’s order. The contact persons that made these offers on behalf of Atiku has promised at least six different officers the position of COAS if they allow ballot box snatching and rigging so that Atiku can win.
"This is why general Buratai’s charge to army personnel to be apolitical is timely but we urge him to back this up with proactive measures to identify anyone that contravenes his directives by hobnobbing with the PDP or its agents. The Army must also suspend its officers and personnel from having any interface with foreigners and foreign organizations as these so called foreign observers are being used to convey the PDP’s messages and offers to officers. They use avenues like break times during briefings and innocuous meetings to attempt recruiting members of the Armed Forces to take sides with the opposition.
"Even as we urge General Buratai to exercise caution, we warm politicians, especially the opposition PDP to desist from dragging themselves into the administration of Nigerian Army and must cease their ongoing attempt to compromise the institution because there is a thin line between what they are attempting and treason. There is no provision in the Constitution that empowers the opposition to dish out instruction to the Army neither does the opposition form part of the chain of command between the C-in- C, the Service Chiefs and the troops. The fact that the PDP, its presidential candidate and chieftains are attempting to compromise the Army therefore lends credence to earlier intelligence report that foreign agents have perfected a plan for the PDP to reject the outcome of the elections, declare a parallel government and get the backing of its foreign partners.
"In view of the fact that the Army is a key institution in preventing ballot box snatching and averting a descent into chaos for the country, it will come under sustained attack aimed at intimidating its ranks and leadership to capitulate and become politicized. Nigerians must consequently be prepared to resist the attempt to destroy key institutions of the country by supporting the Army in its determination to protect the sovereignty of the country and to remain subordinated to constituted authority without any iota of disloyalty.
The commendable arrests of troublemakers commissioned by dubious politicians to cause confusion must be sustained. The Army should not be deterred by the lies being told by those claiming that it is clamping down on the opposition. What is required of it is to maintain its apolitical stance by ensuring that anyone that foments trouble is made accountable for their actions."