Nigerian Leadership And Rulership In Historical Perspective III: The INEC And Double Standard
Samuel Oluwaseyi Oduyela
Just as an expected piper, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced it guidelines for candidates seeking elective positions. In what does not come as a surprise, it declared that all aspirants must be physically present for screening. Of course, it is clear that the INEC has been drawn into the politricking going on between the Nigerian President and his Vice. Though a lot of Nigerians believe and have questioned the independence of the INEC, but its recent pronouncement has just confirmed that this Commission is not independent after all.
Over the years, we have seen the Electoral Board being compromised by the government in power. In 1983 the Federal Electoral Commission helped the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) to rig the elections. In 1999 and 2003, the INEC allowed rigging. In Anambra State, electorates were able to catch a man with ballot boxes stuffed with ballot papers already thumb printed for the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). In the north, Alhaji Balarabe Musa exposed the complicity of the INEC in the election rigging. In Lagos State, a week after the governorship election, INEC published and entirely different election result on its website giving the victory to late Engineer Funsho Williams. Funny and sadly enough, nobody bothered to pursue the issue beyond that and it died down like that.
The INEC openly and unabashedly helped the PDP to rig the 2003 election. One of the most memorable riggings was the ones on Abuja where the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) candidate was leading in the senatorial election and all of a sudden, she lost to the PDP candidate. Another case was the one in Adamawa State, where it was announced on the Radio Nigeria Network news at 7AM that the ANPP won two of the three seats in Adamawa but by 2PM the result changed and PDP won.
Isn’t it funny that the same INEC that cleared Iyiola Omisore, a murder suspect in 2003, in absentia is now asking all candidates to be physically present for screening? Iyiola Omisore was arrested shortly after his impeachment as the Deputy Governor of Osun State. He was still a member of the Alliance for Democracy then. Surprisingly, from detention, his nomination form was filled and submitted. Omisore did not go to Abuja to face any screening exercise. Infact, Chief Audu Ogbe, the then National Chairman of PDP objected to Omisore’s candidacy but some powerful people within the PDP took his form to INEC and a murder suspect who is standing trial of killing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was cleared by the INEC. From detention, Omisore contested, and won the election. Today, the same INEC changed its rule; you do not only have to come physically, but if you have a case pending you are automatically disqualified.
This action is an indication that it is who Obasanjo wants that would be declared winners in the coming election. The INEC, no doubt has been annexed by the PDP.
The question is, individuals at the INEC are human beings, and some of them are intellectuals, people with outstanding records of great accomplishments in their endeavors, why are they being compromised? As Nigerians, they swore to uphold the constitution not the President. Their loyalty is to the country and not to an individual who is blinded with revenge and rage. A man who feels he should always have his way and feel he holds the power to take and give life. The man who is sharing authority and power with God.
For whatever anybody cares to say, if not for Professor Humphrey Nwosu, there would not be June 12 1993 in Nigeria’s history. He presided over the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria. We have read and heard from various actors in the Ibrahim Babangida’s transition program and no one has blamed Nwosu for the annulment of the 1993 election. So far, he remained the best head of an independent Electoral Commission Nigeria ever had.
History will not forget all individuals who are contributing to whatever madness is going on now. These individuals will surely account for whatever damage they help to make to the people’s morale.
Justice Belgore has been able to do what Justice Uwais failed to do as the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Governor Ladoja would not have won his case at the Supreme Court if it were Uwais time. The Appeal Court ruled that Obasanjo rigged in his own state Ogun, and the Supreme Court over ruled the Appeal Court decision under Uwais.
Is INEC acting within its constitutional powers or acting a script from its employer the democratic dictator of Nigeria? We shall wait to see what the lame duck National Assembly will do and how the issue is handled by individuals affected.