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[BREAKING] Elections: Presidency has fooled Nigerians

The senior military officer looked with pity on some citizens marching enthusiastically to go and cast their votes. “You are wasting your time,” he said. It was in Lagos on the day of the presidential and National Assembly elections. When prodded, this officer alleged that a security report came shortly before the election, indicating who the powers that be wanted as President.

This supposedly meant that the security men would have to cooperate to deliver the anointed one. I dismissed this information. But when President Muhammadu Buhari illegally raised his ballot paper to show that he voted for his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), I became suspicious

It was then that what Reverend Father Emmanuel (surname withheld) told me five days to the election dawned on me. This priest said he was highly afraid the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, might not make it to Aso Rock. “The cabals are highly against him.

I have been praying about this, but God can’t do for human beings what they can do for themselves,” he added. This was actually his reaction to my article titled, “Electing Nigeria’s miraculous President,” published on Monday, February 20, 2023.

I also recalled the reaction I got after my intervention on this page on Monday, January 30, 2023, where I stated that President Buhari was not supporting Bola Tinubu, who is his party’s candidate in the presidential election. In the article entitled, “Buhuri’s heart is not with Tinubu,” I chronicled some actions of Buhari, which presumably indicated that he had lost favour with Tinubu.

The President had also admonished Nigerians to “vote for whoever they like from whichever party. Nobody will be allowed to mobilize resources and thugs to intimidate people in any constituency. That is what I want to go down into Nigerian history for.”

As soon as the piece came out, a friend sent me a message: “Buhari is supporting Tinubu but selling a dummy to gullible masses.” I disagreed. He told me he had deep relationship with some top APC guys and that a chieftain of the party (names withheld) gave each state some hundreds of millions of naira (actual figure also withheld) for presidential rallies. This humongous amount of money was allegedly paid through bank to bank transfer and security agencies did nothing. Again, I dismissed this allegation.

Like many Nigerians, I still placed all my hopes in the promise of the President to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and credible elections to Nigeria. I had no reason to doubt the President. He is reputed to be an honest and incorruptible man who keeps to his words.

Alas, the presidential and National Assembly elections, held on Saturday, February 25, 2023, turned out to be a huge fraud. With the barrage of allegations trailing the elections, it has become obvious that the President has fooled Nigerians using the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu. The INEC boss, like Buhari, had assured Nigerians that this year’s election would be free, fair and credible.

Last October, Yakubu met with political parties in Abuja. During the meeting, he reassured Nigerians that “there is no going back on the deployment of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation. There is no going back on the transmission of results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on Election Day.” But, did INEC fulfill this promise?

No! The electoral umpire claimed it had technical glitches, which prevented it from uploading election results onto its server. The ruling party amplified INEC’s response by claiming the 2023 election was one of the most transparent and peaceful in the history of Nigeria.

“It is because the process was credible that made it possible for Mr. Obi’s Labour Party to record the over six million votes it got, contrary to pre-election forecast,” a statement by the director, media and publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, noted.

However, to the local and foreign observers as well as the opposition parties, the APC is talking bunkum. At a joint world press conference in Abuja last Tuesday, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the LP and the African Democratic Party (ADC) noted that “the crux of the matter is the deliberate refusal of the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as the national returning officer for the presidential election, to respond to the demand of political parties for the commission to respect the pre-existing regulations that results of this election shall be uploaded on the INEC server through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System technology.” This refusal, they said, had compromised the integrity and credibility of the entire election. They said there was extensive cancellation of results all over the country, especially in the areas of strength of the opposition parties to shore up the numbers of the ruling APC.

Despite the protests, INEC, in the early hours of Wednesday, March 1, hurriedly announced Tinubu as the winner of the election. He polled 8,794,726 of the 24,965,218 votes cast to defeat his closes rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, who scored 6,984,520 votes to emerge second in the poll. Mr. Peter Obi of the LP scored 6,101,533 votes to emerge third. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) scored 1,496,687 votes to come a distant fourth.

Well, it is now left for the opposition parties to argue out their cases with enough pieces of evidence. For instance, political thugs disrupted elections in some places by harassing, intimidating and, in some cases, attacking voters who were seen to be supporters of their opponents. There was also late arrival of election materials in some areas. In some others, INEC officials reportedly did not appear at all. This could be partly how an election with over 90 million registered voters turned out to be the lowest in terms of voter turnout since the return of democracy in 1999.

Indeed, Buhari sold a dummy to us. In his congratulatory message to Tinubu, he said the man was the best for the job and that there was no doubt that the people’s decision had been rendered in the results INEC announced. Although he admitted that the exercise was not without fault, he concluded that “none of these issues registered represent a challenge to the freshness and fairness of the elections.” Really!

Buhari and his party have gleefully told the aggrieved parties to go to court. Obi and Atiku have reportedly filed separate suits at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, seeking to examine the documents used by INEC for the conduct of the presidential election. Obviously, there will be some legal fireworks in the months ahead. The question remains, will justice be served?

Let’s see how it goes. Part of the issues that may come up for interpretation is the actual intent of Section 134 of the Constitution. This section stipulates that for a candidate to emerge as Nigeria’s President, he must have the majority of votes cast at the election as well as having not less than one-quarter (25 per cent) of the votes in each of at least two-thirds of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Tinubu did not get up to 25 per cent of the votes in Abuja.

Whatever be the case, the judiciary has a duty to look dispassionately at the cases before it. At the end of the day, Nigerians want to see that justice is served and that there is no undue resort to technicality.

As Mr. Peter Obi rightly noted, “If we seek to be called Your Excellency, then the process through which we are elected should also be excellent or sufficiently credible to generate the required confidence and moral authority to govern and lead.”

In all, Nigerians, especially INEC, need to draw some lessons from this election to guide the conduct of the governorship and House of Assembly elections coming up this Saturday March 11, 2023. The electoral umpire should be made to be truly free and independent. Already, Buhari’s free and fair election mantra is a ruse. His legacies are now in the court of history.

Re: Buhari, INEC should save our democracy!

Casmir, an APC-ambushed PMB led what eventually but unsurprisingly turned out to be a charade of an election when he publicly displayed his voter’s slip to the public in a bid to prove his loyalty to APC members. By this act, he inadvertently and unconscionably campaigned for APC on the day of election.

He broke the law on elections. PMB is supposed to be the ‘chief law keeper’ but he disappointingly became the ‘chief law breaker’. What a poor role model of a leader that he is! The signal for the INEC chairman to go ahead and ‘win it’ for Tinubu was thus given by a complicit PMB’s body language.

When a disgruntled Tinubu latches out at a chicken-hearted PMB, he becomes lily-livered! The benefits inherent in signing the Electoral Act into law did not materialise due to malfunctioning BVAS and server challenges. This was exploited to maximum effects by APC in particular as results were manually written. The election to a large extent was a fraud and a step back on our democracy.

Besides, why the haste in declaring Tinubu, when, he didn’t meet the requirement to be president? He didn’t score up to 25% in FCT as demanded by the constitution. A candidate in addition to the popular votes must score 25% in 2/3rd of 36 states which is 24 ‘and’ the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

The terms are simple enough for interpretation – 25% in Abuja is ‘mandatory’ for a would-be president of Nigeria and why not? A candidate must have a ‘reasonable degree of popularity’ in a place where he is going to govern from. Twenty-five per cent shouldn’t be too much to attain if he is actually the choice of the electorate. Did Tinubu not campaign in Abuja? Why was his renewed hope manifesto rejected there? A re-run of the election ought to take place even by ‘their results’. Shame to PMB, shame to Yakubu! Weeping for Nigeria continues!

-Mike, Mushin, +234 816 111 4572

Politics is a game of interest where one protects one’s or party’s interest irrespective of the ugly side of one’s candidate or party. There’s nothing offensive in preaching, protecting and projecting one’s political interest. But the wanton disruption and subversion of the electoral process whereby one or some persons are disenfranchised is unfortunate, shameful and utterly condemnable! Instituting an action is constitutional, and it is also a part of our democratic process.

An aggrieved party whose interest or fortune has been brazenly shortchanged, as we have just witnessed in the recent ‘debacle’, should be allowed or encouraged to exploit the path of legality by instituting a legal challenge instead of resort to self-help. Toeing this constitutional path will also help to inform our serial election riggers that it is not yet ‘Uhuru’ until the courts also make their statement by righting an obviously flawed process.

That aside, certain provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution vis-a-vis the Presidential Election outcome have thrown up some varied or discordant tunes which require a clear interpretation and pronouncement by the apex court. Take notice that it was matters or interpretations of this nature that brought about Bayelsa’s David Lyon last minute Supreme Court ‘shocker’.

-Edet Essien Esq. Cal South, +234 810 809 5633

Dear Casy, permit me to painfully tell you that with the turn of events in ‘favour’ of Emilokan proponent, we Nigerians have boarded another ‘bad’, if not worst vehicle (motor ndi Ori) on the worst route to the worst destination. I now ask: God where are you, that you allow this kind of politico-social and economic affliction to befall us?