Akinola: Jonathan and 2014 Ekiti election scandal (2)
A NUMBER of questions are pertinent at this point: Were the soldiers who prevented Governors Amaechi and Oshiomhole from entering Ekiti to monitor the elections, and those who escorted Chris Uba to the state not acting under orders? What duties, under the constitution, were the police minister and junior defence minister, in Ekiti to perform during ‘the elections? And finally, why were the opposition party men incarcerated during the course of the elections, only to be released without charges immediately after? Whoever can adequately explain away these questions in relation to the mysteries of what actually transpired at the Ekiti governorship elections, can as well cast doubt on the audio, and now even the video, recordings, of the conclave of criminals, haggling over how to rig the elections.
Short of a personal confession, it is obvious that only a judicial pronouncement can determine whether Jonathan indeed authorised a subversion of the Ekiti governorship polls. I am only, like any citizen is entitled to, expressing dismay at the president and his administration pretending that they are unaware of the grave allegations about their involvement. Equally grave are the implications for the president’s person and office, and for the image of the country and its people. This is as if Richard Nixon and his administration were to keep mum when the Watergate story’s dirty ramifications began to unfold. Even if Jonathan, in his usual self-and-office- compromising attitude, does not “give a damn” about what Nigerians think of his excesses, does he also not care about the standards and values which prevail in the conduct of public affairs in civilised countries, and about the opinions and feelings concerning pariahs that dare defy and defile these international usages? ‘Unfortunately, whether he takes these things into consideration or not, it is the country which ultimately suffers, just like during the regime of Sani Abacha, whose infamy Jonathan seems to be now aiming at surpassing.
In view of the above, Jonathan should immediately empower the Chief Justice of the Federation to set up an independent panel of inquiry into the Sahara Reporters’ revelations. Should the president fail to do this, the Nigerian Bar Association should proceed to organise the probe.
While the issue of Nigeria’s image in the international community over the Ekiti governorship elections affair is of the utmost importance, a far more crucial issue is the implications of the scandal for the current situation in Nigeria itself. In one respect, the Saraha Reporters’ revelations could not have come at a more appropriate occasion. Today, Nigeria again seems to be drifting into another crisis of political succession, a situation generated in the main by the ambitions of an incumbent ruler to do what other presidents before him have brazenly gotten away with – namely, to appropriate state powers to manipulate the electoral process to his advantage and that of his party. The eight-year rule of the loathsome moral nihilist, Babangida, was a study, as well as a variation of some sort, in this tragic political chicanery. Nor was the Obasanjo presidency much different. (In this context, I believe it is high time Abdulsalami Abubakar, came before Nigerians to apologise for the stable-institution-inhibiting, and the pro-one-party dictatorship of a fraudulent constitution that he imposed on the country in 1999).
Given Jonathan’s constricted and clannish worldview, unredeemed by weak character, he thinks that to fail in his bid for a second term in power would be tantamount to discrimination against him because of his ethnic origin. Hence he does not seem to care whether his schemes for reelection bring the country crashing down over his head. Jonathan should rather see his entitlement to enjoy the prerogative of even appointing the INEC chairman (not to talk of otherwise influencing elections) as comparable to exercising the antiquated divine right of kings. For, when the people decided to terminate such sweeping powers, they chopped off the heads of monarchs who resisted the tide of change. By the way, Jonathan swore to uphold something called the Nigerian constitution. So what does the faith he wears like his trademark hat say about allegiance to this sacred document? Perhaps his crowd of spiritual advisors should remind him.
The impression created by Jonathan’s ingratiating disposition is capable of deceiving many about the president’s neo-fascist tendencies and such abuses as using state agencies for evil purposes. While party hawks and careerists with a stake in Jonathan’s continuance in office may count for something, it would be dangerous to ignore Jonathan’s own neurotic obsession for power, and his reactionary urge to exercise prerogatives which his predecessors enjoyed even in violation of the constitution. As far as responsibility for obvious political manipulation is concerned, there is no way one can discount Jonathan’s personal initiative in such things as the abuse of religion plus ethnic and other differences for political purposes.
The cardinal significance of the Sahara Reporters’ scoop, even if the high and mighty now proceed to deploy all sorts of legal obfuscations to discredit it, is that it is the first internationally publicised exposure of how the military, not to talk of the police and other security agencies, are routinely abused to overturn the will of the electorate in Nigeria. The Sahara Reporters’ story similarly crucially identifies, by implication, the most powerful political executive, albeit not the only one, capable of ordering or endorsing the manipulation of elections in favour of incumbent governments. Though rampant, and generally suspected to be a disgraceful and tragic consequence of the entrenched weakness of the country’s “independent” electoral commission, abuses of electoral processes have never been acknowledged as sufficiently proven, even by justices of the supreme court, as to warrant the nullification of the election of a president in Nigeria. A couple of governors of the ruling PDP whose elections were overruled at the court of appeal some years back, ultimately earned the presiding judge suspension and disgrace by the present incumbent president!
Something tells me that revelations like those made by the Sahara Reporters, as well as the abominations that happened, and continue to happen, in Ekiti cannot but have consequences. Some price, whether judicial or not, is usually paid for such crimes against all that society holds sacred. As in the significance of the meaning and dynamics of history, and in their apprehension and absorption by mortals, the implications and ramifications of signal events unfold piecemeal. It may, therefore, be that the Ekiti elections, hitherto supposed to reflect the influence of “stomach infrastructure” on the manner in which the electorate vote, may come to stand for something altogether different, perhaps even pointing the way to a resolution of Nigeria’s electoral and even “National Question” problems.
• G.A. Akinola wrote from New Bodija, Ibadan
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