Tuesday, March 5, 2019
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Bonn, Germany

We deserve elections we can trust (Jill Stein)

The right of election is the very essence of the constitution (Junius)

If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it (Mark Twain)

The greatest threat to the constitutional right to vote is voter fraud (Lynn Westmoreland)

To finalize, the purpose of an election is to hear the will of the people, not to fabricate votes (Lincoln Diaz-Balart)

However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23, 2019 (Atiku Abubakar)

n the concluding part of my last serial on the 2019 presidential election, published on Thursday, February 14, 2019, I correctly predicted almost everything that happened so far in that presidential election. let's put that article into perspective here.

In that article, I noted that many Nigerians said, then, that there's no way Buhari will win the presidential election, but that he will rig it to hang on to power, and that was what happened. Nigerians have never been so united against any government as they do against Buhari's. So, it would be inconceivable that they voted for him in such a large number. Nigerians from every class, tribe, creed, and tongue are suffering under this government, and the majority wanted it gone, so, who really voted for Buhari, if not for rigging? Nigerians voted but INEC wrote its own figures.

In that article, I noted that Millions of Nigerians and the international community are already skeptical that the presidential election will be free and fair; and that was what happened as the election was marred by violence and irregularities. In fact, the whole exercise was a farce, a charade, a bizarre rigging galore, as Buhari, his APC and the INEC all connived to torpedo the will of the Nigerian people. To put it mildly, the majority of Nigerians were scammed during this presidential election.

I also noted, in that article, that INEC didn't first of all sort the whole gamut of problems and issues connected with the election before carrying out the exercise; and that was correct as it, INEC, had to postpone the presidential election for a week, and still, it was not a credible one, as glaring irregularities and malpractices were the hallmarks of the whole exercise.

In that article, I also noted that INEC will be biased, and that was what happened. One of Nigeria's foremost legal luminaries, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has noted that the INEC Chairman, in his rush to accomplish the mission set by his paymasters, failed to observe one of the tenets of our constitution. I'm not a lawyer, so, I hope that the court will interpret this whenever Atiku takes his case over there.

The National Daily Newspaper wrote that Nwabueze has questioned the legality of the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the 2019 presidential election in Nigeria by the Chairman of the Independent National Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu. Professor Nwabueze noted that the INEC relied on partial fulfillment of the constitution in the declaration of Buhari as the winner of the presidential election, noting that INEC Chairman, Yakubu, showed biases and partiality in favor of Buhari and the APC in making the decision. He counseled the INEC to take necessary action to review that decision. In his words:

“I think the declaration and certification are invalid in law. Do the declaration and certification not manifest undue bias and partiality for Buhari on the part of INEC Chairman as well as an anxious desire for the President’s victory? “Please consider and take action as you may consider necessary and appropriate”.

The Professor had made reference to the appearance of the Chairman of INEC on the television to declare and certify Buhari as the winner of the 2019 Presidential election based SOLELY on the fact that he scored the “highest” number of votes cast at the election. Professor Nwabueze asked, “did the declaration and certification comply with section 134(2) of the Constitution which provides as follows:

“a candidate for an election to the office of the President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where there are more than two candidates for the election –

  1. he has the highest number of votes cast at the election, and

  2. he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

Prof. Nwabueze protested that the INEC Chairman’s declaration and certification were based solely on section 134(2)(a)), and said nothing at all on whether sub-section 2(b) has been complied with. He said:

“I am concerned with the validity of the declaration and certification as a legal requirement, not with the question whether subsection 2(b) has in fact been complied with".

I also noted, in that article, that the security forces will be biased, and that was what happened, as they turned their guns and power on the people they were meant to protect. There's a news that some Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, and National Commissioners of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will resign their appointments following alleged intimidation, harassment and threat to life by security agencies during the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections.

This was what the Vanguard wrote: "If there is no intervention, many of the RECs and national commissioners are contemplating the option of resignation because what they passed through in the hands of security agencies, as they said that they have not witnessed it before. A source said: "We have not seen this kind of thing before and all through the preparations, some of the RECs were held hostage."

The source further alleged that in some states, collation officers were caught in hotels sharing money and that even those arrested were immediately released as a result of what they described as "orders from above." Hear one of the electoral officers who was a victim of the harassment and intimidation:

"I think this country is worse than a banana republic. The security agencies involved in the harassment were in a convoy of armored personnel carriers, and in some cases, retired security officers were drafted into the 'ugly' affair. They mutilated result sheets. On the eve of elections, they were moving materials away".

Besides, the source alleged that the most worrisome aspect of it was that some RECs and National Commissioners condescended by working with politicians to undermine the process. Hear him again:

"You are not free anymore. You can't even exchange ideas with your colleagues. It is a complete takeover of INEC by all security agencies. You will sit in an office, a group will say it is from Defence Intelligence, after finishing with you, 10 minutes later another will come from National Intelligence Agency, NIA, not only one person but about three or five and they will sit in your office. So, there was a lot of distractions, you cannot even concentrate. Then your office will be filled with security agents under the guise of protecting facilities. You will see about 15 soldiers, police, you can't count, civil defense, and everywhere was just choked up. Most of the electoral officers were caged. All these figures they are reeling out have no basis. In the area where they have these bandits, after taking the security men out, early morning of the election, they withdrew the security and left the youth corps members at the mercy of thugs hired by the politicians. So the youth corps members were endangered and had to run for their dear lives, they now stuff the boxes. When I was flying out of….it was like I was flying to heaven. It was so terrible that I have never seen this type of election before."

Another source said: "One fundamental thing why some Resident Electoral Commissioners and National Commissioners are threatening to resign is that chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission that they looked up to was helpless. In his words:

"Understandably, even the man who could have led that protection himself was under massive attack."

One of the sources alleged that in the far north, the results released did not reflect the actual votes cast, especially in Zamfara and Borno as a result of military harassment.

As I predicted, in that article, the presidential election was a sad frustrating day for democracy, as it has weakened democracy in Nigeria; it was unprecedented in the history of elections in Nigeria - it was the worst presidential election ever conducted in the annals of Nigerian politics, as there were lapses, fraud, iniquities, deaths, and bungling during the election; and it might as well be a prelude to the disaster that will consume Nigeria, if the courts fail to handle Atiku's upcoming petition well. The infringements this time were beyond comparison, as the evidence is incompressible. Buhari understands the implication of what he has done, and that's why they are not jubilating in their victory.

Buhari's election victory will only bring more hunger, poverty, ignorance, disease, frustration, death etc, and Nigeria will continue to be the world headquarters for extreme poverty so long he remains in power. On the day he was declared the winner, the Nigerian Stock Exchange lost about N196 billion, and has been losing and losing since then. Also, many international businesses have started planning to leave Nigeria for good.

We learned that a National Peace Committee (NPC) has been sent to beg Atiku not to go to court. The delegation is led by the former head of state, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd.). It has also been alleged that Buhari has bribed some other presidential candidates to help him beg Atiku not to go to court. Even if Buhari likes, let him arrest more of Atiku's relatives to force him to stop going to court. All these are medicine after death. When they were rigging the election, why didn't they think of Atiku and the millions of Nigerians who voted for him? Now that they know that the evidence against them is overwhelming, they are trying to talk Atiku out of going to court. It will not work for them. Atiku was right in warning the committee that tensions are building up in the land as it might explode soon, if care is not taken, because, that February 23 elections were the worst in the country since the return to democratic rule, as the exercise was marred by brazen rigging with no consideration for the people’s will.

Atiku should not allow anybody to stop him from going to courts to recover the mandate given to him. In fact, he shouldn't equivocate or tergiversate here. He has every reason to be confident that he would be victorious when he formally institutes an election petition case against President Buhari and the APC, because of the wide-ranging availability of video evidence to back up his claims of non-voting, voter intimidation, ballot box snatching and destruction, illegal vote cancellation, and deliberate voter disenfranchisement. What Buhari and the APC didn't know is that the PDP prepared in advance for their (APC’s) rigging by sending agents with hidden cameras to the field during the election.

Let me add that Buhari knows what he did - that his election will be quashed by any court of competent jurisdiction, and that's why he sent an emissary, the National Peace Committee, to beg Atiku not to go to court. As a perennial presidential candidate, he went to courts every time he lost, even when he contested against Yar'Adua, a fellow Fulani, in 2007, so, why should Atiku back out when his mandate was stolen from him, and the will of the people and democracy were truncated? Atiku must fight to recover what belongs to him, and that's a duty he owes Nigeria and Nigerians, especially those who suffered affliction such as death, injuries, intimidation, victimization, abuse, hostility etc while wanting to elect him president. Anything short of that will be tantamount to an act of cowardice, and posterity will judge him harshly for chickening out when he should have been steadfast or resolute.

Atiku must not fail Nigerians by giving up the fight even before it has begun. This impunity must stop at all levels. Do you know that because of rigging, politicians tend to do nothing for their people, because, they know they can win without the people's votes? If things continue this way, what will be the need of holding elections again? INEC might as well stop the conduction of elections and will rather be selecting whosoever they want for different offices instead of subjecting the people to the agony of casting votes which will not count. Because of this rigging, future elections in Nigeria will be meaningless for so many Nigerians, and voters turnout will be abysmally low since their votes will not be the deciding factor in any election. This voter apathy will start with this coming gubernatorial and states' house of assembly elections this weekend. The glaring rigging that happened during the 2019 presidential election has killed voter enthusiasm in Nigeria, and that's a poison for our democracy.

At this point, I will also blame Nigerians for what happened during the presidential election. That election was lost a long time ago. When the APC rigged Osun and Ekiti States' governorship election and we kept quiet, was also when we acquiesced to the rigging of the 2019 presidential election. When President Buhari refused to sign the amended Electoral Bill and nobody said anything serious about it and he was not forced to do the right thing, was when we gave in to the rigging of this year's presidential election. When President Buhari removed the Chief Justice, and a few made only noise and nothing was done about it to make him rescind that dangerous decision, was when we gave him a blank cheque to rig this year's presidential election.

We should blame ourselves. You see, we have been allowing Buhari to be doing whatever that pleases him with impunity, and he has been committing all kinds of atrocities and be getting away with them. Nigerians have never made him know that enough is enough, and we haven't held him accountable for all the evils he has been doing. That's why he had to rig this election without any remorse or care about what people will say or do, and if we continue to keep quiet, he will also continue with this impunity undeterred. One thing I noticed is that this presidential election was so amateurishly rigged that even a child can fathom what happened.

The point I'm making is that we have allowed this man to get away with so many infringements and impunity. It's time to draw the line, otherwise, he will see it as his right to be lawless. Suzy Kassem (1975), in her book, `Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem`, wrote that "Our freedoms are vanishing. If you do not get active to take a stand now against all that is wrong while we still can, then maybe one of your children may elect to do so in the future when it will be far riskier — and much, much harder.”

Children were even allowed to vote in the northern part of Nigeria during the election. Those underage voters and riggers were ignorantly doing that for the APC, a party that has no plan for their education and development; a party that has no plan for the Nigerian youths. After now, they will end up begging for alms. Those kids will grow up tomorrow to bemoan the bad condition of things in Nigeria without knowing that they helped, in 2019, in contributing to the malaise they will be facing in the future. At their respective ages, these kids have been brainwashed to become bigots; with their mindset today, they are those who will grow up to join Boko Haram or Fulani herdsmen to torment other Nigerians in future. Instead of teaching the kids how to become useful citizens of Nigeria when they grow up, their parents, leaders, religious leaders etc have been teaching them election malpractices, and these they will grow up with, meaning that credible elections will be impossible in Nigeria, even in the future, with such greater tomorrows. How did we get into such a mess?

It's a shame that at this digital age we can't even conduct a credible election. That's why we can't get our act together in anything; that's why we can't govern ourselves, and that's why we can't elect good leaders. The head of INEC claims to be a professor; all the states' returning officers are mostly professors or even vice-chancellors, but they can't give Nigeria credible elections. That why Ekerette Inokon wrote: "Welcome to Nigeria where University Professors are comfortable to rig elections but expel students for exam malpractice".

To be continued!