Archive for March 2019

Manipulated elections and Nigerian judiciary

March 28, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Hope! Justice! These two words have suddenly taken a prime place in Nigerian lexicon. The Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal made this possible. Last Friday, the tribunal ruled that Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party won the September 2018 governorship election in Osun.

The three-man tribunal ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not substantially comply with the Electoral Act 2010 in the conduct of the run-off in 17 polling units. Hence, the electoral umpire, it noted, wrongly declared Adegboyega Oyetola of the ruling All Progressives Congress as the winner of the election. It said INEC should realise that “it holds an office of public trust and should at all times, strive to maintain the sanctity of the electoral practice.” Since this ruling, many Osun citizens have out-danced the antelope in their ecstatic bid to celebrate the victory.

Every honest follower of the Osun governorship election knows that Adeleke suffered grave injustice during the exercise. He was leading and was already beginning to clink glasses when INEC declared elections in some polling units inconclusive. It ordered a rerun. That rerun was massively compromised. As various credible reports indicated, the security agents, apparently at the instance of the APC, intimidated and scared away many supporters of the PDP. That was how the victory table turned and the APC candidate, Oyetola, won.

In some of my earlier interventions on this page, I had denounced this abracadabra of an election. I am not an Osun citizen. Neither do I have any stake in the election. But injustice to one is injustice to all.

This same abracadabra has played out in some of the states where supplementary elections were held last Saturday. Kano is a typical example. Thugs were the overlords this time, and they reportedly unleashed violence on the state. My happiness is that we still have a judiciary that can right the many wrongs inherent in our frail democracy.

In 2003, for instance, Mr. Peter Obi contested the governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State. But INEC declared Obi’s opponent and then PDP candidate, Chris Ngige, as winner. The Court of Appeal upturned Ngige’s victory in March 2006. Obi assumed office on March 17, 2006 only to be impeached by the state House of Assembly in November of the same year. He challenged his impeachment at the Court of Appeal in Enugu and won. He came back as governor on February 9, 2007 and eventually completed his second tenure on March 17, 2014.

Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, is also a beneficiary of this type of justice. Amaechi had won the PDP governorship primaries in 2007, but the party substituted him with Celestine Omehia over allegations of graft. Amaechi felt short-changed. He went to court. Though Omehia won and was sworn in as governor in May 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that Amaechi not Omehia was the legitimate candidate of the PDP. In October 2007, Amaechi reclaimed his mandate. He was to later complete his second term as governor of Rivers State.

This is the beauty of democracy. The powers that be can manipulate the system as they like. But the judiciary, as the last hope of the people, can restore justice.

Luckily, we have done away with military rule. They are only being used in the current dispensation to snatch ballot boxes and intimidate voters during elections. But the courts are there to dispense justice. And with what happened in the Osun election petition tribunal, there is hope that justice will be done in the Atiku Abubakar versus Muhammadu Buhari presidential election petition case.

Re: Nigeria’s militocracy: The more you look…

Democracy is the best human kind has been able to contrive. It got its origin from the Greek type of communal ownership and address of State issues. Modern man through Abraham Lincoln, away from how Socrates and his fellow philosophers conceived democracy, now said: it is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Even then, there were people of the state specially trained to fight and defend the state from all serious adversities called the military. Such people don’t have anything to do with state affairs in terms of the day to day administration of the state because they are not trained for that.

Since time immemorial, the military has its place in human history. We hear of the tactics of Fabius Cunctator of Rome after they were defeated by the Carthaginiaus with the expertise of Haninibal and Hamilcar Barca at Transimene in 217 B. C. the Romans through Fabius Cunctator and later Scipio Africanus where Cunctator introduced his new famous war tactics of blocking up the enemy’s supply lines at the same time avoiding further pitched battles, and depriving the enemy of any help in order to defeat them.

In political philosophy, we had the opportunity of learning about Gen. Ireton of Great Britain and Col. Rainboro whose ideas greatly influenced the barracks system for the military.

Now we ask, where is our own military apart from planning and carrying out coups and counter coups? It all started with Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu in 1966 whose innocent and very pure heart moved him to question the morality of the founders of our State, Nigeria.

To abridge the unattractive story, this is the second coming of a coup expert in the name of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. He had attempted to take the presidency twice. In his second attempt when he was defeated by Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, hell was let loose where he ordered that all “kaferi” – non believers of Allah, must die. So, seven National Youth Corp members were killed in cold blood in Minna, Niger State. An electoral Commissioner in Kano, together with all members of his family, were burnt to death in his home. The Chairman of INEC, at that time, Attahiru Jega’s house was torched and all his belongings destroyed. For all these and many more, Jega changed style and tactics, more-so with the introduction of Boko Haram as a way to actualise their jingoistic and hegemonic agenda, thus favouring Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 Presidential Election.

As it is said, the feature of an educated mind is the reasonableness it impacts on the recipient. Does the military truly understand the political dangers of snatching ballot boxes containing votes of the citizens? It was very obvious that all the boxes snatched and the votes carted away were for the ruling party whom the military was working for.

Some drama happened in my home town – Ogu. After a very peaceful election, soldiers, sent by the government started gathering around the Local Government Secretariat. They had their armoured personnel vehicles stationed at both ends of the secretariat main gate. Then the already collated result started to come into the secretariat accompanied by the election officials. Then, it was echoed very much that the head of the ruling party who was disqualified by the court along with her party in the state became so interested in the result that she came around to take all the results to Port Harcourt for the reason we could not fathom. Then all the women of the other party, perhaps the ruling Party in the state, came out to challenge her. The Army had a re-enforcement but they could not stop the women who were very desperate to make sure that the leading woman (a National House of Representatives candidate of the ruling party) did not succeed in her desperate mission to tamper with the results. The women, at a point, stripped half naked to face the Army, who, seeing them, retreated.

At the neighbouring Okrika, just a few days before the 9th of March, 2019 election, armed soldiers broke into King Ateke Tom’s home, destroyed the wall television and other personal effects in the home, shot a man and a dog dead and also destroyed so many other things in the home. The reason for all these, they did not tell anybody. Is it what we will regard as Militocracy? Nigeria, can we survive at all in the face of all these?

Marcus Anga, marcusanga02@gmail.com

In future elections, government should provide enabling environment for Nigeria police force and other security agencies to manage security situation rather than bringing in Nigerian army. My advice to Nigerian youths is, don’t allow politicians to use you for political gain.

Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

The sham Presidential Election of 2019 is General Muhammadu Buhari’s second coup d’état against democracy in Nigeria. All his saintly postures are contrived deceit and hypocrisy. But who is to bell the cat?

Manasseh Nwachukwu, Imo State, 08034365391

Casmir, God bless you for defending the truth and God bless Dr Orji Kalu for allowing you write the truth in his paper. Of truth, this is the worst election. APC used INEC and security agencies to disenfranchise PDP strongholds and now ‘inconclusive’ deception.

Rev Ukpo, Calabar, +2348056451118

The way some columnists like you as well as other Nigerians demonise the military one might think that they were not Nigerians or that they came from other planet. The military personnel are our fathers, sons, uncles, brothers and sisters. They are, as much, if not more, interested in the unity and peace of this country. Without the presence of the military in some parts of the country during the elections, there will definitely be mayhem. Or do you think there will be free elections in Rivers State with the presence of the police alone?

Anonymous, +2348033072852

  • First published in The Sun of Monday, March 25, 2019
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Nigeria’s militocracy: The more you look…

March 19, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

“The power of the people is stronger than the people in power.” This statement was on the placard of some Algerians who recently held a series of protests against 82-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. You can only find this type of action in true democracies. But in our dear country, Nigeria, the people in power appear to be stronger than the power of the people.

Some have branded it militocracy. Or how do you describe a system where soldiers interfere in the electoral process with impunity? What do you call a person or group of persons who instigate thugs to attack some voters on mere suspicion that they did not vote their favoured candidate? And what do you say to the fact that a lot of people lost their lives simply because they came out to exercise their right to vote?    

In Nigeria, election is war. Most times, if the security agencies and the electoral umpire are with you, victory is assured. Only in rare cases do you find a person with such power losing. The security agencies can snatch ballot boxes and turn things in favour of their man. The electoral umpire can cancel the election or declare it inconclusive. In supplementary elections, the losing party can do some abracadabra and win.

We saw such American wonder in the Osun State governorship poll last year. The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was leading. But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive. At the rerun, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) upturned the PDP’s lead in a controversial manner and became the winner. PDP cried foul. But the deed has been done. 

It reminds me of some of our childish pranks in those days. We used to start the tricks by singing, “Come and see American wonder! Come and see American wonder!” After the 2019 general election, you are free to change the song to “Come and see Nigerian wonder!” That is to say, the more you look, the less you see.

Little wonder, some Nigerians have baptised the electoral umpire as Inconclusive National Electoral Commission. Many people thought that INEC would be truly independent. They trusted in the ability of the commission to improve on the successes of the 2015 elections. But they were terribly disappointed.

The presidential and National Assembly elections, for instance, were anything but free and fair. Soldiers allowed themselves to be used by desperate politicians. In some parts of the country, especially in Rivers State, the military openly took partisan roles. They reportedly engaged in snatching ballot boxes and shooting/terrorising innocent citizens. Along the line, scores of people lost their lives. This was why some bold women reportedly formed human shield and stopped soldiers from carrying out similar acts in parts of Okrika and Ogu/Bolo in Rivers State during the governorship election on March 9.

In places like Lagos, thugs attacked innocent voters and destroyed ballot boxes. In some other places, card readers failed to function. Allegations of rigging were also rife. War-torn northern states like Borno and Yobe recorded more votes than many peaceful states in the South.

One had expected that INEC would correct some of the mistakes that occurred during the presidential poll. But that did not happen. Perhaps, the politicians became more daring and combative. Some polling booths and collation centres became theatres of war.

As a last resort, perhaps, INEC tarred six states with the brush of inconclusive elections. That of Rivers State was suspended outright. The six states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto. However, INEC, last Friday, cancelled the supplementary election in Bauchi, saying the collation of results would continue on Tuesday. The commission will take a final decision on Rivers this Wednesday. Curiously, with the exception of Plateau State, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is winning in the other five states. 

This has raised tension and suspicion. Could it be that there is a plan to unleash the Osun treatment on these states? The PDP has been crying like a bird with a broken beak. In Sokoto State, some women stormed the streets to protest the inconclusive election in the state. INEC has forged ahead with preparations for the election fixed for March 23, 2019. Will it produce more Nigerian wonders?

We keep our fingers crossed and watch events unfold. We also follow closely what goes on in the presidential and governorship election tribunals. The judiciary cannot afford to fail Nigerians this time. For many politicians who feel aggrieved, it is the last hope.

That is why I find it curious that some individuals and groups tried to dissuade the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, from going to court. Some traditional rulers, including the Sultan of Sokoto and the Ooni of Ife, are in this league. They visited Buhari in Aso Rock and pleaded with Atiku not to go to court so as to allow peace to reign.

What type of peace will reign when you beat someone mercilessly and force him not to cry? Didn’t Buhari go to court in his earlier failed attempts to occupy the seat of power in Abuja? Is it not better to settle contentious elections like this in court than resort to violence?

To add insult to injury, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission began to arrest and investigate some relatives and associates of Atiku. Of course, whoever launders money or engages in other financial crimes should face the music. But why is it mainly the opposition members that face this music? And how do you explain the timing of these arrests and the fact that some of the victims are Atiku’s backbones in the legal challenge with INEC?

Good enough that Atiku and his party still went to the tribunal despite all these. Let them show the world the evidence they have. This will enrich our democracy and our electoral process. It will clear all doubts about the alleged manipulation and rigging of the election bearing in mind that injustice to one is injustice to all.

As for those who twist facts, cause ethnic tensions and militarise the electoral system, all I can say is, tread softly. Today, you control the levers of power, tomorrow, the tide may change. And you shouldn’t complain when nemesis begins to catch up with you.

We have good examples. In the Second Republic, politicians with the active connivance of the then electoral umpire soiled our democracy. They never bothered about the implications of their actions. Things were so bad that the military struck to restore some sanity. Incidentally, Buhari emerged the Head of State after that coup of 1983.

Now that he is back for his second term as a civilian President, what will be his legacy when he leaves office? He says he wants to be remembered as a leader who kept his word that elections must be free, fair and credible in Nigeria. He was quoted to have said, “I have maintained a position that elections must be free and fair and people have the right to make their choices and vote their conscience…Elected persons must be fair and just. This is the legacy I want to leave behind.”

I laugh. It is either that Buhari is pretending or he is insulated from the reality of happenings in his country.

Somebody needs to tell our President that the 2019 poll is one of the worst, if not the worst, in Nigeria. The election has dashed the hope of many Nigerians in our democracy. It led to low voter turnout in the last governorship and House of Assembly elections. It has taken us some years back from the democratic gains we had earlier made. And it will take a lot of time for Nigeria to recover from this electoral malfeasance.

But we should not fold our arms and watch things deteriorate further. This is the time to rescue our fatherland. There is no sitting on the fence. Unfortunately, many of our human rights lawyers appear to be out of circulation. Many civil society organisations are no more active. Could this be a case of selfish, ethnic and religious sentiments overshadowing the general interests of the people?   

Though Nigeria is polarised, I would still advise that we take a cue from the Algerians’ peaceful and non-violent protest against President Bouteflika. The protesters cut across all ages and walks of life. The old man has been in power since 1999. He wanted a fifth term despite his poor health and the deep economic crisis rocking his country. But his people demanded a return to the rule of law and an end to the rule of Bouteflika and his clan.

Their sustained protests forced the man to announce last Monday, March 11, 2019, that he would no longer seek a fifth term. The people of Algeria won. But there are still pockets of suspicion here and there. Last Friday, they trooped to the streets again in protest. That is people’s power in action. Can we ever have something like this whenever things begin to go wrong in Nigeria?

You answer that yourself!     

  • First published in The Sun of March 18, 2019.

Re: Matters arising from Buhari’s victory

March 11, 2019

Casmir Igbokwe

Nigeria’s electoral system has drawn the ire of many citizens. This partly explains the low turnout of voters in last Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections in some parts of the country. The anger also reflected in the overwhelming reactions that trailed last week’s intervention on this page, titled, “Matters arising from Buhari’s victory.” The space is not enough to publish everything. Enjoy reading:

As usual, your argument is concise and precise. You always say your part and leave those concerned to their wiles and whims. Yet that will not deter us from saying the truth to the authorities.

A day after the presidential election in 2015, I sat with a friend (my constituency representative at the Anambra State House of Assembly) with others in his house while Prof. Attahiru Jega announced the results of the 2015 election. After the announcement and confirmation of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the election, I quipped to everybody around that it is not giving water to the monkey that is the problem, it is possessing the matching amount of dexterity to retrieve the cup from the monkey. We are now stuck with a set of die-hard power-mongers determined to do whatever it takes to clutch on to power.

Rev. Fr. Mbaka and his likes who are gloating over the outcome of the election are exactly the men J.P. Clark called the “wandering minstrels” in his poem, ‘The Casualties” (the message of the poem itself actually befits our present lot). It is a pity how the pursuit of lucre has taken over the altar of God. All through the ages, prophets and men of God are known to stand up for the people against bad rulers and practices but what we have in this age are purported men of God feeding fat on the gullibility of their followers and selling their congregation short for half-plates of porridge. The pocket justifies the pulpit. Shame! Even our Lord, Jesus Christ, came for the liberation and salvation of mankind, while here we have an ordained man of God, a priest in the order of Melchizedek, rejoicing over his assumed role in the continual denial and subjugation of the people’s right to everything orderly.

It is a wonder why the Catholic Church has kept mute over Mbaka and his money-cum-political mongering. Over the years, the Church is known for its rigid stance on errant priests and officials. Yet they have so far treated Mbaka with kid gloves. Is it that the money he makes for the Church has elevated him to the status of an untouchable? Or that discipline has taken flight in the Church?

For the chest-thumping All Progressives Congress, one has a cautionary proverb for them: “the man who swallowed a razor blade should not rejoice uncontrollably until he has relieved his bowels the next day without complications/pains.” At a time like this, one remembers the philosophical sage in Dame Patience Jonathan’s reflexive and spontaneous reaction during the drama accompanying the Chibok girls saga: “There is God o…!” And He will surely redeem the land and its people.

– Hon. Aloy Uzoekwe, Isuofia, Aguata LGA, Anambra, 08038503174, uroyz94@gmail.com

Dear Casmir, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka’s boasts, gloats and mockery of Atiku and Obi on social media are at once foolish, stupid and sheer madness. We hear the man has infliction of “agwu” madness in his family. The rumour mills here say that Buhari has offered Mbaka a choice of two junior ministerial posts in his new cabinet: (a) Minister of State for Propaganda. (b) Minister of State for Information, to assist Alhaji Liar Mohammed, who will be retained. Hurray! At last the President has found a qualified Igboman for a job.

– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, +2348085914645

The true matters arising from this presidential and National Assembly elections have raised so much dust that the lie that some were born rulers and others were born slaves (at best second class citizens) has been brought to the front burner of national discourse. That the Hausa-Fulani owns it all is gradually becoming a signed and sealed matter that must be accepted by all, according to the Buharis of this country. Now, soldiers who are paid by Nigerians in uniforms sewn for them by Nigerians are no more using military coups to forcefully take over legitimate governments of the state, but are now brazenly carrying ballot boxes already filled with the people’s votes for the self-appointed Hausa-Fulani claiming that they are representing their entire ilk. That, to say the least, is a painful reminder of the perfidy of those in power insisting that they must be in power forever. But can someone be in power forever without subjecting and oppressing others? Can subjection and oppression of others last forever? God forbid. As you clearly reflected, we remember how Attahiru Jega and his men manipulated and manoeuvred the game of PVCs to the advantage of the North, from Kano to Jigawa to Yobe to Borno, all the way on the other side of the North, to Katsina to Zamfara to Sokoto, a little down to Kebbi to Kaduna and to Niger, coupled with heavy rigging within the country, already with thumb-printed votes from their brothers in Niger Republic. This enabled their Fulani brother Muhammadu Buhari to defeat his Christian “kafiri” opponent, Goodluck Jonathan, in the last presidential election. Why give your Hausa-Fulani brother Atiku Abubakar the same inhuman, insane treatment as if we are just coming out of the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War, where jungle justice still persists? The most unfortunate thing is that people often forget, in particular Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, that jungle justice does not and cannot persist forever. Besides, let Fr. Mbaka know that there is false prophecy in life even in the days of old, according to the scriptures. What Mbaka is telling us is that even armed robbers pray very hard before they go out for their operation. In fact, they may even do fasting and prayer, only to dispossess the other man of his hard-earned property. When they succeed, they will proclaim that God has granted them victory over their enemy. That is what Muhammadu Buhari has done in the 2019 presidential election as Mbaka is trying to profess.

But let Fr. Mbaka not take people for granted that they don’t have any choice but to live in Nigeria and die in Nigeria. Fr. Mbaka, please, don’t be a false prophet, for the Niger Delta Republic and the Biafran Republic including the Oduduwa Republic are all still hanging around the corner. Be warned, my dear Rev. Father.

– Marcus A.P. Anga, Ogu, Ogu/Bolo L.G.A, Rivers State, 08064315962, e-mail: marcusanga02@gmail.com

Casmir my wonderful writer, God bless and keep you. I would rather advise you to stop lamenting. To be candid, with the height of emotion raised before the fortunate cancellation and the subsequent election itself, many thought it was an end to this God-given and God-blessed nation, Nigeria. We are happy the nation is not up in flames and the citizens are all going about their businesses. Our President should avoid the so many mistakes of his first tenure, and try as much as possible to shelve his too open tribalistic innate tendencies, to make room for openness. He has to see the whole nation as his constituency.

– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibeku Okwuato, Aboh-mbaise LGA, Imo State, 08036174573

From your write-up, I can say categorically that you are biased. Your write-up, Mr. Igbokwe, shows clearly you are for PDP. A journalist writing will look at both sides and draw a conclusion. But your column is just castigating APC. Anyway, you are entitled to your opinion because you pitch your tent with PDP.

– Oyeniyi Janet, olukemioyeniyi@yahoo.com

Bro Casmir, your piece on Buhari’s victory is as always a masterpiece but I disagree with you on Fr. Mbaka. He prophesied that Atiku and Obi would lose and they lost, shikena. His prophecy came to pass just as it has always. So, why deride him? He did not say that he is God and is not taking credit for the victory. Our people should stop deluding themselves but face reality. God did not want Atiku and Obi to win, otherwise, even in the midst of rigging, God is capable of changing the situation in their favour; or are you now doubting God’s capability in any situation? Remain blessed.

– Barr. M.C. Eze, Onitsha, +2348036743479

Whoever prayed for the election to go the way it did must have prayed to the devil and not the God I know … Atiku should emulate Buhari and go to court. His presidential project is definitely not only a northern agenda. He should be on the positive side of history.

– Eddy Idigo, Aguleri, +2348033038099

I congratulate you, my brother, for keeping the flag of national truth flying without fear or favour as required of an ordained journalist of your breed and training. Your pen will and shall never dry for speaking the truth as you see it, particularly on this charade of an election as can be seen in Nigeria. Keep it up!

– Anonymous, +2348039383237

Good day sir. My advice to you is that, please, try to be an unbiased journalist, because your write-up is so PDP and anti-Buhari in nature. I don’t know where you vote or monitor election, but in many parts of Nigeria election really counts, credible and fair, compared to the era of PDP ballot snatching, vote allocations and killing. I have not much time to respond to all what I read.

– Gaza Salami, gazasalami@yahoo.com

  • First published in The Sun of Monday, March 11, 2019.

Matters arising from Buhari’s victory

March 4, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka’s new lyrics depict the mood in the camp of President Muhammadu Buhari. In an audio clip circulating on the social media, the spiritual director of the Adoration Ministry Enugu, Nigeria, derided Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. To him, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), respectively, desecrated the altar of God. The man said he had challenged God, saying, “God, if you are truly the owner of this altar, Atiku and Obi must lose the election.”

Happy that they eventually lost, Mbaka gloated, “During Elijah’s time, you cannot insult the altar of God and go free. This is another Elijah time.”

Peter Obi’s crime was that he didn’t join other politicians to make an open donation during the harvest of Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry late last year. He stood his ground against the priest’s several attempts to force him to make his donation public. Mbaka became livid and said Obi and Atiku would fail the election, if they continued that way. He later met behind closed doors with President Buhari in Aso Rock.

This clergyman must have been beating his chest that his prayers did the magic for Buhari. But he is not God and can never be God. He should stop deceiving his gullible followers by taking credit for this questionable victory. If the votes were allowed to count, and his candidate won, then the victory dance would have made sense.

Unfortunately, the votes didn’t count in this election. There were serious irregularities here and there. In some states, at least, 30 citizens paid with their lives. In some locations, especially in Lagos, thugs destroyed ballot boxes and stopped people from exercising their franchise. This happened in many areas perceived to be Igbo and PDP strongholds. The assumption is that Igbo would vote for the opposition PDP. In different parts of the North, there were allegations of vote padding, illegal thumb-printing of ballot papers and all that. It is left for the PDP and its candidates to prove their case in court when the time comes.

For now, Buhari is back for a second term. And his supporters are boastfully celebrating. The All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, for instance, has told whoever cared to listen that Atiku was not destined to be President. He and some of his party members have also taunted the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for losing his re-election bid.

Last week, the display of arrogance and power play continued, especially in Lagos. A civil society group known as Orange Movement wanted to hold a rally against the national leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the Airport Hotel, Lagos. The group was reportedly inspired by a similar action in Kwara State, which led to the defeat of Saraki in the National Assembly election two Saturdays ago.

But the police emerged in their numbers and mounted strategic positions around the hotel even before the arrival of members of the group. They succeeded in stopping the planned rally. This is akin to beating a child and warning him not to cry.

It is worthy to note that a few of my APC readers have accused me of being anti-Buhari and anti-APC. Far from it! I have never met Atiku Abubakar. I also have never met President Buhari. I know them by reputation as former Vice-President and current President, respectively. I have not benefitted in any way from any one of them. Some friends had wanted to bring me into the Buhari campaign structure. I politely declined because I did not and still do not fancy his leadership style. My duty as a journalist is not to say hurray to the perfidy of those in power but to point out where they are not doing well so that they will make amends.

The problem is that truth is a scarce commodity in Nigeria. Many people, especially politicians, twist facts to achieve their selfish interests. I will never be part of that bandwagon.

As we prepare to go the polls again on Saturday, March 9, what is the guarantee that the shenanigans that happened in the presidential election will not recur? Will the security agencies do their duties without bias? Will the electorate, especially in the crisis-prone areas, turn up for the election considering what happened on February 23?

Many questions, few answers! I pity some governorship candidates. They have spent a lot of money on campaign activities. Some have wooed voters and promised to liberate them from certain abnormalities. But my fear is that a lot of people may not turn up for this Saturday’s election for security reasons.

Prior to the general election, people proudly flaunted their permanent voter cards (PVCs). The campaign to go collect the PVCs was so intense in churches, mosques and many other organisations that, if you had not collected it, you would feel like a fish out of water. With what happened in the February 23 presidential/National Assembly elections, voter apathy may set in again.

Besides, politicians have mastered the art of exploiting our fault lines and knocking heads together to garner political advantage. For instance, after the presidential election, the impression was created that the Igbo and the Yoruba were fighting one another. Thugs were reportedly mobilised to attack some Igbo interests in Lagos. Ethnic champions started dishing out hate speech on the social media and elsewhere. Surprisingly, even some supposedly enlightened people joined the fray either out of mischief or for some pecuniary gains. Some say Igbo cannot come to Yorubaland and dictate what happens there; that Lagos is for APC and that the Igbo cannot vote for the PDP in Lagos.

Pray, are Ondo and Oyo states where the PDP won in the February 23 presidential election not part of Yorubaland? Is Afenifere that endorsed Atiku not a Yoruba socio-cultural organisation? Are Atiku and Buhari no more Fulani? Is Jimi Agbaje, the PDP governorship candidate in Lagos, an Igbo man? And when did the interest of one or two people become the general interest of the Yoruba race?

I pity the Igbo in all this. Some of them gave their support for the APC with the hope that, in 2023, it would be the turn of the Igbo to produce the President. Such people should begin to practise shock-absorbing techniques now. From what I have seen so far, having an Igbo man at Aso Rock in 2023 may be a mirage. I wish I am proved wrong eventually.

The power-mongers sowing the seed of discord and holding us to ransom must remember that power is transient. Even life itself is ephemeral. Where is Idi Amin Dada today? Where are the Mobutu Sese Sekos of this world; the Papa Doc Duvalier of Haiti, Alberto Fujimori of Peru, Sani Abacha of Nigeria and many other dictators?

One big lesson to learn in all this is that, for most human beings, self-preservation is the number one law of nature. What happens to your neighbour is immaterial as long as your own interests are not hindered. That is why politicians keep jumping from one party to the other looking for who will butter their bread better. I will not be surprised if many of those who defected to the PDP prior to the elections jump back to the APC, if the party eventually sustains the victory of February 23 at the courts.

Even in international politics, it is the same scenario that plays out. There is no permanent friend, no permanent enemy. The moment China and Russia congratulated Buhari on his victory at the polls, I knew the Western powers would do the same. So, I was not surprised when the United Kingdom, United States, France and some others sent congratulatory messages to the President for winning the election. Nigeria is important to them and they cannot afford to lose her.

By and large, to restore hope in Nigeria’s elections, the government must initiate reform of the electoral system. President Buhari should look beyond his immediate electoral gains and sign the amended Electoral Act. That should be the starting point.

In the interim, government agencies like the National Orientation Agency and civil society groups should begin to enlighten people again to come out and vote this Saturday. Voters should not succumb to the threats of some party thugs. We must all come out and exercise our franchise. That is our legitimate right.

After the elections, Buhari, as a man of integrity, should begin to deal with corruption in all its ramifications. He should ask those who reportedly brought bullion vans to their houses whether they run commercial banks in their compounds. He should ask the military to account for every person killed in Rivers State and elsewhere on account of this election. Realising that rigging is a form of corruption, the President should order the prosecution of those who snatched ballot boxes and engaged in all forms of electoral malfeasance.

First published in The Sun of Monday, March 4, 2019