Army Chief Accused Of Militarizing Nigeria’s 2019 Elections Advocates Election Integrity

Former Chief of Army Staff who is the current Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (Rtd), has strangely cautioned Nigerian Youths not to allow themselves to become willing tools in the hands of do-or-die politicians who want to compromise Nigeria’s election integrity and stir up trouble in their communities.

This is strange because the Nigerian Army under Lt. Gen. Buratai’s watch was accused by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led opposition of militarizing the 2019 general elections, in collusion with the President Muhammadu Buhari State House, with the intent of stealing the elections on behalf of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The caution by Ambassador Buratai was given in a message to Nigerian Youths, titled, “Dynamism in Politics and Nigeria’s Founding Fathers”, posted on his verified Facebook page on Friday.

Buratai challenged youths to instead, embrace the tenets of political dynamism and root out every factor contributing to the democracy deficit in Nigeria, such as voter apathy, ballot snatching, looting, arson, and the likes.

While acknowledging that youths constitute a large percentage of the country’s voting and working population, he observed that they are also going to be the number one demographic that would suffer the consequences of bad governance and incompetent leadership in the future.

“Therefore, you must do everything to safeguard your future survival and welfare in mind. Get actively involved in the democratic process by joining a political party and electing those who will lead you. Remember that voting is a civic duty expected of every Nigerian,” he cautioned.

“I spent my entire service life defending the nation and democracy because of my conviction that the political system is most conducive to peace, sustainable development, rule of law, and respect for human rights.

“Nigeria’s 22 years of uninterrupted democracy is worth celebrating, and elections devoid of integrity could not bring legitimacy to the winners, security to the losers, or public confidence in their leaders and institutions.

“This weakens polities by encouraging disaffected groups to seek out less constructive outlets for their discontent. Some people feel that there is no need to commend the Nigerian democratic project because of this challenge associated with all nascent democracies.

“I respectfully disagree. We are evolving, and as you can see, the system is improving daily as a result of our leaders’ periodic enhancements to the democratic system.

“For instance, the 2022 Electoral Act which the President, Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari just signed into law, is a factor that will undoubtedly improve the transparency and acceptability of the country’s future elections and promote democratic governance.

“Democracy remains a universal aspiration because it actually delivers.

“For example, of the 20 countries with highest levels of human development as measured by the UN’s human development index, 19 are liberal democracies.

“Among the top 40, 36 are liberal democracies. And even the citizens of poorer democracies live, on average, nine years longer than citizens of poor autocracies, because they have better access to health and education.

“Democracies are also less vulnerable to famines and conflicts.

“It was the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who said, “Man is, by nature, a political animal.” It means that a man is born, lives, and dies as a member of a community, and the affairs of that community are therefore his and vice-versa.

“This is why since my transition back to civilian life from the Army, I have continued to participate in every civic activity I could to promote peace and strengthen our democracy. It is the reason I decided to send this message to all Nigerian youths,” he said.

The former Army chief urged Nigerian youths to take the critical issues of participation and a vibrant democratic system in Nigeria as sacrosanct, and embrace what he termed political dynamism.

Ambassador Buratai defined political dynamism “as vigorous political activity that is geared towards progress, and strength in the polity usually characterizlsed by patriotism, service to the fatherland, and youth inclusivity.”

“Youth can be a creative force, a dynamic source of innovations, and they have undoubtedly, throughout history, participated, contributed, and even catalysed important changes in political systems, power-sharing dynamics, and economic opportunities.

“However, young people also face poverty, barriers to education, multiple forms of discrimination, and limited employment prospects and opportunities.

“This is a global challenge although it differs across countries, and it is why the youth must take the issue of electing their leaders very seriously,” he said.

The Ambassador consequently extolled and advocated the dynamism exhibited by the country’s founding fathers such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Obafemi Awolowo that offered an inclusive impression that all the regions had a say in the formation of the country.

Ambassador Buratai, however, concluded that President Buhari had laid a foundation for a new Nigeria, adding that he had kept faith with his vision and principles in spite the myriad of challenges.

Finally, the retired general turned ambassador urged youths to carry the vision and principles beyond the current administration and protect the legacies for a greater Nigeria and a formidable future generations.