Suspension of Nigeria elections: Ghana must not panic – Kwesi Aning

General News of Tuesday, 10 February 2015


Dr Emmanuel Kwesi Aning

Security Expert, Kwasi Aning has said the suspension of the presidential elections in Nigeria should not cause Ghana panic.

He said that Ghana should rather show extreme interest in providing Nigeria with the support it needs to deal with security problems there.

Speaking on Peace FMs’ Morning Show ‘Kokrokoo’, Dr Aning said the hegemonic nature of Nigeria means any slight shake up in that country will make its neighbours Benin, Togo and Ghana suffer grave consequences.

In his view, a functional Nigeria is necessary in the development of West Africa and Africa as a whole.

His comments are in relation to the recent postponement of Nigeria’s presidential elections which was slated for February 14, 2015.

The country’s electoral commission said they are postponing the elections by six weeks because troops needed to protect polling stations were occupied fighting Boko Haram militants.

The postponement has been greeted with mixed reactions by people in the country as well as political activists.

The country’s opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) has described the postponement has a “gimmick” and a ploy by the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the polls.

However, Dr Aning doubts if the six-week postponement of the elections will deter Boko Haram in any way – especially if the group had decided to terrorise the country during elections.

He said the most important thing Ghana must consider is the long term impact of the Boko Haram crisis and the effect the postponement of the elections will have on Nigeria’s democracy.

A further postponement, according to him might degenerate into misunderstandings because “politics in Africa and West Africa in particular is driven by mistrust and suspicion and, even though, there may be a legitimate security problem but the nature of politics is such that there won’t be understanding and so we need to do preventive and peace building work.

“What is the best response to a worsening security situation and how do we collectively agree that that response is the best for Nigeria. Nigeria is too powerful for anything untoward to happen to it”, he continued.

He said “for the sake of Nigerians, West Africa and Africa, we have to keep Nigeria stable and functional but it will need an open conversation among the political class in order to achieve that.”

He noted that the chilling dare with which Boko Haram is behaving – attacking a major town like Maiduguri and changing the names of some towns is signaling that nobody can protect the ordinary Nigeria.

With the postponement of the elections, Dr Aning anticipates that the group will rearm and mid-March begin an aggressive set of assault over different areas just to show that they can challenge the authority of the state.

This means that the international community must back Nigeria to demonstrate that the country is still a viable functional and strong state, and Boko Haram must not be allowed to win.

On the effects of this on Ghana, due to the increased number of Nigerians in the country the security expert said “in the interim no”, but the nature of the terrorist threat is such that, even though, what is happening in Nigeria will not affect us directly as a nation we need to be vigilant.

He said security officials should inform the citizenry on what they should look out for so that in case anything occurs there, Ghana will be ready for response because “although there is no credible information about a possible or potential threat it doesn’t hurt for us to raise the state of preparedness.”

He insists that there is nothing to be fearful or angry about, but the situation should rather push us to ask questions and find out more about the issue and better prepare for it.

“In making this conversation, it is done with sensitivity and appreciation of Nigeria’s affection for Ghana and our own affection for Nigerians. It should not be a conversation that raises fear and untoward suspicion.

“It should be about saying how do we ensure that our systems are up and running in a way that makes everybody comfortable. Because whatever Nigeria is, it is our absolute hegemous in West Africa and in their time of need we should be cautious, sensitive and loving in supporting them,” he added.