By Stehen Ubanna
President Muhammadu Buhari has a big task at hand to prove to Nigerians that he has all it takes to organise a free and fair election in 2019 without bloodshed. Fears are being expressed in both official and unofficial circles that the election might run into murky waters because of the politically motivated crisis in different parts of the country. There is no gain saying the fact there is proliferation of arms which had been smuggled into the country through illegal routes by desperate politicians and their agents .
For instance, the situation in the oil rich Rivers state where the conflict of interest between Nyesom Wike, the governor of the state and Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of the state and now minister of Transport, which had turned the state into a theatre of war, forcing the governor to cry out that his life is under threat. The security situation in the state , appears to have degenerated so badly in the state that politicians in both divides in the state fear that they could no longer be protected by the state.
Some of them were said to have raised their own private Armies to guard them. The situation in Rivers state is not quite different from what is happening in Ekiti state, where Buhari, had directed Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the party National leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC, to ensure that the party take over the state from the Peoples Democratic part, PDP, in the upcoming governorship election in the state.
Many are worried that with the political tension in the state, the July 14, 2018, governorship election in state as may be a” do or die affair” between Kayode Fayemi, a former governor of the state and later minister of Mines and Steel Development and now Candidate of the APC, will slug it out Fayose’s deputy, Kolapo Olusola Eleka, the PDP candidate for the Ekiti governorship election.
This is evident going by the violence that trailed the welcome rally of the APC Candidate in the state, which party supporters claimed was an assassination attempt on Fayemi. Eye witness account confirmed that four gun men had positioned themselves at the party secretariat in Ado-Ekiti for the attack. The assailants were said t o have fired at Fayemi but hit a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Opeyemi Bamidele and several others who were quickly rushed to Ekiti State, University Teaching Hospital for treatment.
Taiwo Olatunbosun, the APC, Spokesman in the state in statement said ”bloody politicking has returned to Ekiti state,” thus giving an insight of what would between now and July 14, 2018, in the state. Ayodele Fayose. a trenchant critic of the Buhari Administration have never his plan to install Olusa, his former Deputy as the next governor of the state.
Many see him as a one man riot squad in the state who is fighting in many fronts to see that the PDP flag bearer in the July 14, 2018, governorship election emerge victorious, notwithstanding the powers behind Fayemi, the APC, flag bearer. He was said to have accused Fayemi, the former minister of Mines and Steel Development and APC, flag bearer, of introducing violence into the in the name of politics and winning the July 14, 2018, governorship election in the state. He delivered a puncher at Fayemi at a meeting Isan-Ekiti, the former minister home town when he accused him of plotting a set of killings that would take place between now and July 14, 2018, in the state.
Given the accusations of threats and counter threats to lives and property in the states, the President appears to have given a marching order to Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, CAS, Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General , Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to mobilise their men to tighten up security at the nation’s land borders to forestall smuggling of arms into the country .
But the arms runners appear to have devised strategies to beat Customs personnel on the road to it to smuggle arms into the country to prosecute the 2019 general election . Last Thursday, May, 31, 2018, three trucks laden with alleged 300,000 live ammunitions were said to have fallen into the waiting hands of officers of 35 artillery Brigade of the Nigeria Army at Owode in Ogun state. The live ammunitions, were said to have been concealed in an artificial bottom of a truck which was suspected by the Army personnel at the Owode checkpoint as the Customs personnel on the failed in their responsibility to do so.
Iniobong Udoh, a Major General and General Officer Commanding, GOC, 81 Division, Ibadan, Oyo state, reportedly said the ammunitions which was smuggled into the country from Republic of Benin was intercepted based on intelligence gathering which gave out the number of the trucks for easy identification on the road.
Many belie that arms smugglers may have taken advantage ofIbrahim Usman Jibrin, Minister of State, Environment to Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja and the attention of Muhammed Uba Garba, the Comptroller and his officers to give the minister adequate security to strike. They noted that both not for the ministerial visit which took most of their time , it would be difficult for arms smugglers to have entered the country on the morning of Thursday , May 31, 2018, undetected.
Security analysts fear that the situation would have been very worrisome if the arms had fallen into wrong hands that might threaten the 2019 general elections. The alleged arms seizure by the Army at Owode may have forced Muhammed, Comptroller of FOU, Zone A, to go back to the drawing board to effectively cover identified routes used by the unrepentant smugglers in the owode axis of Ogun state.