The Security Council of Nigeria has given the green light for the presidential and national assembly elections to go ahead as planned on February 25 and March 11, despite concerns that the federal government might postpone them amid the ongoing naira crisis. Following the council’s maiden meeting for 2023, Attorney-General Abubakar Malami addressed State House correspondents, stating that there was “no going back” on the election dates and that the federal government had made sufficient preparations. Malami added that the Security Council members were satisfied with the current level of security, having received briefings from the Chief of Defence Staff, the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs, and heads of other security agencies about their readiness to provide the necessary security cover for the election.
During the press conference, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, revealed that the president had directed all security agencies to ensure a safe electoral exercise for Nigerians and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission. He added that the Force could not prosecute governors for inciting violence over the new naira crisis, but could issue cautions, warnings and advice.
Regarding the increasing presence of military personnel on the streets of Lagos and Abeokuta in Ogun State following recent unrest, Baba clarified that these were joint operations to stabilise internal security before the election and not targeted at the election.
The Security Council meeting was a follow-up to earlier meetings by the Federal Executive Council and the Council of States, to assess the readiness of the electoral watchdog, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the Nigeria Police Force for the general election. The government’s position, as confirmed by the president and the National Security Council, is that the election is going ahead as planned, and the necessary preparations are in place.
The announcement comes amidst concerns that the naira crisis, fuel scarcity and other challenges may jeopardise the electoral process. Some governors and public officeholders had alleged deliberate plans by the federal government to shift the election dates, but the Presidency has repeatedly denied these claims.
Despite the government’s assurance, the security situation in Nigeria remains fragile. Reports of violent attacks and kidnappings are still prevalent in some regions, and the government has been criticised for failing to address these security challenges. The current economic crisis, with inflation and unemployment rates at record highs, has also contributed to growing public discontent.
The presidential and national assembly elections will be critical for Nigeria, given the challenges facing the country. The successful conduct of the election will help to stabilise the country and provide an opportunity for the government to address the pressing issues facing the nation. The international community will be watching closely to see how the election unfolds, with concerns about the impact on regional stability and the economy.
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