By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
As people hail Igini and Ezeonu, curses and criticisms have been heaped on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. In fact the People's Democratic Party's Lagos Central Senatorial candidate, Sunbo Onitiri among others called on Yakubu to resign for giving Nigeria the most “fraudulent, compromised and scandalous” elections Nigeria ever had in the history of her democracy. The voter apathy was sequel to confidence lost on INEC under Prof Yakubu.
Ridiculously, Southeast Based Coalition Of Human Rights & Democracy Organizations, SBCHROs; a coalition of more than 23 human rights and democracy organizations asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to begin to initiate the process of registering and recognizing the Nigerian Army as a political party by name, the Army Political Party of Nigeria (APPN)”, so that it could formally join the league of the Nigerian registered political parties. This is sequel to its ridiculous engagements during the just concluded polls.
The Nigerian Army recklessly engaged in electoral shenanigans.
The Statement was signed by Messrs Emeka Umeagbalasi, Aloysius Attah, Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD, Justice Chidi, PhD, Prof and Ms Chidinma Evan Udegbunam. The group decried the complete engagement of the Nigerian Army in the brazen brigandage, thuggery and other forms of electoral partisanship and robbery played out in the just held shambolic polls of 2019 .
Why would INEC add “inconclusiveness” into electoral lexicon when there are glaring injustice in such a lexicon to favour the ruling party? Why would INEC suspend elections in Rivers State even when the APC did not field candidate? And why would the Nigerian Army meddle in that electoral process? Why would a Deputy Governor of Kano State, Nasiru Gawuna of APC tear election materials and INEC declares election inconclusive?
Why turn the wishes of the masses in some States, unnecessarily delay results already known from poling units for alterations to occur in favour of a political party? Why declaring results from Sokoto, Bauchi, Plateau and Adamawa, where PDP was coasting home to victory “inconclusive”? Is this not pure partisan against the oath of your office Mr Yakubu?
Why then were the results from Ogun, Lagos, Borno, Kwara, Kebbi, Katsina, Gombe, Niger, Jigawa and others where APC “successfully” won easily declared even with glaring shortcomings?
The behaviour of some of the returning officers were like they awaited for an instruction from the Presidency via the INEC Chairman to declare results before they do, is this supposed to be so? Results from polling units already known would be delayed for hours if not days until the rigging is perfected?
Has the Nigerian Army under Lt Gen Tukur Buratai as COAS, debased and departed from professionalism, non-partisanship? Is there a compromise by the so called International observers who were mute in front of grave injustice to the people of Nigeria?
INEC must not act funny with the wills and wishes of Nigerians on 23rd March, 2019 in the States still declared inconclusive or suspended when results are already known from polling units?
This is because, the winning Political parties would have been declared winners as done with Ogun State Governorship election result with Dapo Abiodun of APC with 241,670 votes to defeat Adekunle Akinlade of APM who polled 222,153, leaving a margin of 19,517 votes? Why wasn't the election inconclusive even with the cancelled votes more than the difference?
The same applied to Orji Uzo Kalu of APC who scored 30,201 votes and Mao Ohuabunwa of PDP who scored 20,801 votes with cancelled votes of 38,526 more than the difference in their figures and more than the winner's votes?
So why the inconclusiveness in Kano, Bauchi, Sokoto, Benue, Adamawa and Plateau States PDP was holding sway? INEC Chairman , Prof Yakubu has got some bashing and wrong prayers against him and family by Moslems and Christians alike even pagans , but was he perturbed?
The Vice Presidential Candidate of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in February 23 election, Mr. Peter Obi, has drawn the attention of the international community on the militarisation of elections to the extent of taking a collation centre to a military location and denying international observers access which he said “is clearly unacceptable and a grave breach of democratic norms”. Is this not clear compromise by the Army in democratic process?
Obi was right because the six States where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the governorship election inconclusive were where PDP was cruising to victory before the process was halted. Has the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) become shameless in its desperation to retain power as it has become brazen in perpetuating it's rigging agenda? Why waste billions conducting elections where lives were lost and wishes of the people subverted? What would the Judiciary do? We say that the Judiciary is last hope of the common man, but are the Judges already compromised? What went wrong? Any hope in our Election Tribunals?
Elections were held in 29 States with APC wining 13 States and the PDP wining 9 States. Then 6 States were declared inconclusive and 1 State suspended by INEC.
Desperation is the root of the electoral crisis, suspension of election results and declaration of elections inconclusive hence Senate President , Bukola Saraki against permutations congratulated his opponent from the APC and wished his people from Kwara State well but Senator Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Rt Hon Rotimi Amechi, Transport Minister among others continued to intimidate their people leading to deaths. All the people manipulating Nigeria for their selfish interests should be blamed for this mess in our nascent democratic mission.
How would one describe the sudden transfer of Kano State Commissioner of Police, CP Mohammed Wakili to Zamfara and replaced him with CP Balarabe Sule because CP Wakili resisted rigging and insisted on free, fair, popular and credible poll in Kano State, yet President Muhammadu Buhari is hailed as corruption beacon?
Is this not an undue interference with the electoral process by the ruling APC? And I ask, what legacy of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria is President Buhari boasting to leave Nigeria with in 2019? Is INEC a branch of APC and Buhari's federal Government? What happened in Edo State, and Osun State appears to be set à la carte for Governor Umar Ganduje's Kano? Shall the protests in Kaduna State against INEC changing the will and wish of the people with fraudulent election results yield fruits in the tribunal?
Of what benefit was the N250Bn approved to INEC to conduct the 2019 general elections. Was it not a waste? The hate speeches was it worth it? Why would our Professors be caught pants down with electoral malpractices? Why would academic be involved in rigging of election, yet they punish students who engage in exam malpractice. What impetus do they have? Why would University lecturers particularly Professors engaged in 2019 General elections not reject being used to rig elections? Is INEC a scam? NYSC members and others who served as Adhoc staff had their lives risked even though they lobbied to be engaged, while most of the academic had their reputation rubbished.
What happened during the 2019 election is a reflection of what some parents even do with their children who are champions of social media particularly Facebook in their private schools by buying marks to ensure they come first in their class, influence JAMB scores through special centers and even placing them on jobs they did not merit. How would our Professors rusticate students who engage in malpractice where Vice Chancellors, Provosts and Rectors have been identified as harbingers of election rigging in 2019 elections? This is indeed our Professors faux pas!
But any hope for end to this madness called electoral rigging and manipulation? When would the real votes count even when they said there is no perfect democracy? Why can't we go electronic voting? We all use ATM cards with minimal error margin, so, why can't small machines like the POS machine for voting be invented for each of the polling units and end this roguish voting method in Nigeria. If the ATM and the POS could keep records and display on request, why can't we use a similar machine for our voting with people voting from anywhere in the country in the designated polling units with days of opening and closing of voting?
This methodology would end the uselessness of some corrupt people engaging in the electoral processes as it would end the unscrupulous acts of some Professors engaged as Collation officers, Returning Officers and Armed personnel as well as Corps members to mention but a few.
Why would the Emir of Sokoto appeal to the PDP's Presidential flagbearer , Alhaji Atiku Abubakkar and his running mate , Mr Peter Obi not to go to court? His alleged words: "If you go to court you will win but there will be war and Nigerians will be massacred. Please accept the results as the will of God"- Sultan of Sokoto to Atiku Abubakar.
Probably the war may start from Sokoto as the APC and INEC are busy perfecting how the inconclusiveness of the election should be at their advantage at all cost. Why can't our votes count? And why won't an aggrieved go to the court? Is going to courts now a taboo? Is self-help now better than what is lawful and constitutional rights in a democratic process? Atiku and Obi got Nigerians with their restructuring and based on results from polling units, Atiku and Obi won hence a personality like Sultan of Sokoto was appealing to Atiku not to go to court because the sham called 2019 General elections would be upturned in Atiku's favour.
For me, against the faux pas by our Professors, the rightful winner should be declared now by the Tribunal and Buhari should accept the verdict but should the Judiciary with threat of EFCC raids and suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen decides to compromise, posterity has a way of catching up on those who cheat the process for their selfish ends.
Atiku should not die like MKO Abiola in pursuit of his mandate but nobody should threaten Nigerians with war because an aggrieved is towing the part of honour in settling his grievances. With the Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory declaring Ademola Adeleke, candidate of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), winner of the 2018 governorship election in the State, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the hardworking Nigerians who were intimidated after voting their choice candidates.