Beyond the Electoral Reforms


Tony Ishiekwene

London, UK


No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.  --    - Abraham Lincoln



Just over a year ago, precisely in April 2007, INEC and its chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu in collaboration with the ruling PDP government led by outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo, and of course aided and abetted by the various national security agencies gave Nigerians the shock of their lives with a nightmarish “do-or-die” “s-election,” not election by any meaning of the word! Every independent observer, including local and international monitors called what happened a “charade” and absolutely below the minimum standard expected of an election, even by developing nations standard!


The effect is that today we have an illegitimate, very handicapped President sitting at the helm of affairs of Nigeria, with various IOUs hanging on his neck that he cannot give effective leadership desperately needed in today’s Nigeria.  In almost the whole states of the federation, except Lagos State and about a couple of states in the northern part of Nigeria, there was no credible election of persons as Governors, State Assembly, and National Assembly Representatives and Senators. The result is that over 80 per cent of those parading themselves today in Abuja as Senators and House of Representatives members and in most of the State house of Assemblies and State Government houses are illegitimate occupants and “receivers of stolen mandates.”


INEC and PDP worked hand in hand to foist impostors on Nigerians across the land by writing results in advance of election dates and then thumb printing ballot papers, in the homes of local PDP war lords, to match pre-written results. And the shame and pain of it is that the people of Nigeria were made to queue all day under the sun and in the rains to vote with sometimes fake ballot papers whilst the originals were hidden by INEC and PDP gangsters; that is in areas were long suffering Nigerians were “allowed” to vote. In most parts of the Niger Delta and South Eastern states there were no elections at all as ordinary registered voters could not sight INEC officials or ballot materials at designated pooling stations all day, yet results were awarded to “winners” of sham elections!


Over a year after, the man who shocked and awed Nigerians with that incredible shambles called election 2007, Prof Iwu, is still sitting pretty as the head of INEC and still churning out fraudulent election results in court-ordered re-run elections across the country. To be fair, the judiciary in Nigeria has given some decent and fair verdicts in upturning some of the charade masterminded by Iwu and his INEC, which deliberately excluded feared opponents of Obasanjo and the ruling PDP before the miasma proper took place in April, as well as ensured that the PDP got victory by crooked means at and after the election days, by declaring false results.


My concern is that the Judiciary is not going far enough. In almost all the re-run elections, the beneficiaries of the 419 elections of 2007 have been returned as victors in more fraudulent elections, in some cases with higher proportion of the votes to justify the charade of April, 2007. No one is even bordering to put what all these charade are costing Nigeria in terms of Money, time, efforts and in many cases lost lives in double elections and putting all the logistics together. Who is bearing all these costs and why don’t someone get the blame and sanctioned for causing Nigerians all these pains? This is where the courts and the judiciary should have been more courageous and done the right, most cost-effective thing- give annulled elections to the second best, cheated candidate, instead of ordering wasteful re-run elections that will still be marred by worst electoral frauds! The judges in the Edo electoral tribunal verdict should be emulated by other courts because as it is now cheats already entrenched, after nearly one year of illegal occupation, will always know how to manipulate re-run elections with all their cronies and agents in place to pull the strings of fraud when they are temporarily out of power for 90 days or less.


But no where is this danger of imposition of candidates hurting most than at local government elections. Elections are now believed by the people to be regular gimmicks and not for the people to elect their leaders. The result is that local Government councillors and chairmen are imposed on the people by the party in control of the states and even so called primaries within the parties, particularly the PDP are masterminded by gangsters in control of the parties- no credible internal elections- to impose unpopular candidates as both representatives of the party in control of the state, and on general election days the voters who know their local candidates well to decide who they want to lead them at that level of government are completely excluded from voting by PDP and State Electoral Commissions. So you have chains of imposed leaders at local government secretariats who are not accountable to the local people but to their god fathers and fellow gangsters who imposed them on their people. They then share their monthly federal allocations with these god fathers and no development takes place that benefit local people that these moneys - statutory allocations- were meant for.


There is a huge danger in the land to Nigeria’s democracy! And the irony of it all is that thugs and vagabonds, many of whom were part of the brigandage of the Generals Babangida and Abacha era, became Governors and Legislators across Nigeria in 1999 and have continued to consolidate their strangle-hold on the democratic space at the expense of NADECO, NALICON  and other pro-democracy members who gave their Sweat, Tears and Blood to force out military dictatorship. Those who worked hard for this democracy have been shut out before they could know what was going on- talk of “monkey de work baboon de chop.” With the PDP boasting and beating their chest that they will rule Nigeria unhindered for 60 years and want a one party state, according to its chairman Vincent Ogbulafor, Nigeria appears to be in for a long night of darkness again. Remember Umaru Dikko in 1983 saying there are only two political parties in Nigeria- the NPN and the military? Well after that sound bite and boast the military took over on the last night of 1983, the rest they say is history! “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable,” and “those who don’t learn from history, live to re-live it.” Whilst I do not see an immediate chance of the military kicking out kleptomaniac politicians, the chance of a people’s revolution, probably very violent, is looming large in Nigeria today, as the people are continuously denied a chance to voice their opinion on whom their leader should be!


The current Electoral reform panel should look seriously at ensuring that elected public offices are not as lucrative as it has turned out to be today. Both the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission led by Alhaji Hamman A Tukur and the National Assembly in Abuja and even State Assemblies are daily granting incredibly large sums of moneys as Salaries and phoney allowances to Legislators and the executives, with some phoney names as “hardship” allowance. Public office should be a place for service and not for self-enrichment. The way it has been turned now, there is no business as lucrative as getting into government in Nigeria today. And then you wonder why elections have been declared a “do-or-die” affair by PDP warlords led by former president Obasanjo? If possible elected office holders should get the minimum wage, and all the avenues for stealing should be curtailed so that only genuine service oriented Nigerians who have means of survival, other than government would go for elective offices!