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2019 elections: Serious matters arising

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Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

Anybody who thinks that the 2019 elections are over is surely a stranger in Nigeria, or is living in a dream-land or is being mischievous. The 2019 elections are far from over! Like all Nollywood movies, our elections have Parts 1 and 2. We have just finished part one which involves saying and doing all the things that are associated with elections, including budgeting huge sums, producing electoral materials, arranging for the elections, `creating awareness, which usually puts all of us in a frenzy, and something like actual voting. After all these genuine and fake steps in Part 1, we then enter the Part 2, which is where the actual elections are done and that is in the tribunals. The major difference between Part 1and Part 2 is that while we are involved in the open aspects of Part 1(and most of the things happening in that part are not open), the Part 2 is restricted to the verbose learned ones, the political gladiators and a few allies. However, while we are getting ready to enter the Part 2, which is crucial part of the Nigerian elections, it is good to examine some of the matters that seriously arose from Part1

One of the serious matters arising is that INEC was overwhelmed in the 20019 election. And as I had argued before, it did not start today! Surely, the constant element was there: acts of political desperation and gangsterism by pseudo democrats, who detest all democratic ethoses. But beyond this, INEC did not do well in several aspects of the operations, especially this mysterious thing called logistics. Materials arrived late in several areas but the most worrisome was the   wrong delivery of materials. Materials for Kebbi landed in Kaduna; those of Kastina were delivered in Kebbi, Lagos results sheets were found in Kwara while some meant for Kwara were delivered to the FCT and some in Nassarawa. This is not funny and to think that INEC had four years to prepare for this election. We may need to make expertise in logistics a core competence in the appointment of the next INEC chairperson. We may appoint the logistic director of Nigeria Breweries or Nestle PLC or even my friend, Dele Badejo, a Professor of Transport and allied matters as the next INEC chairman. We may also have to unbundle INEC because it appears that they are involved with many non-core activities.

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One of the factors that compounded the woes of INEC was the litigation-friendly tendencies of our political operators. Even the failure to extend greetings on the day of primaries ends up in court. Of course most of the parties sowed the wind and the reaped the whirlwind by deliberately violating their own constitutions. One of the things that earned INEC a little sympathy with the shameful postponement was the intimidating statistics of court judgments it had to contend with:  to substitute, remove, replace and maintain the nebulous statues-quo with respect to parties and candidates. And some of the court-rats that caused these distractions knew well in advance that they had no cases!  As at that date, INEC had 640 cases and 40 orders hanging on its neck! For instance, 24 hours to the election, INEC was ordered by a ‘court of competent jurisdiction’ to include APC in the Zamfara elections. I am yet to confirm if they did so and how they were able to do so within such a short period. Our people say that when the hunter learns to shoot without aiming, the bird also learns to fly without perching! This matter should be given a technical knockout and the easiest way out is to rearrange the process so that all court cases are disposed off, at least one month to the date of the first election in any electoral year

Another serious matter that arose was the number of parties. I think it was Tunji Braithwaite who went to court over the various roadblocks on the route to registration of political parties and opened the current floodgates. Seventy-something political parties appeared on the 2019 election ballot papers. By next elections, I would have successfully registered my own party because parties are now like business names that everybody can register at anytime. Incidentally, people just registered the parties, went to sleep, woke up to participate in the endorsement market and went back to sleep again, probably till 2013. That was why two candidates won more than 95% of the votes. Even an unknown candidate named cancelled votes, had more visibility and numbers than the 70 parties lumped together. And to think that some of the candidates threw in the towel before the actual fight began! We must do something about this menace. People may be free to form parties but there must be stringent requirements to qualify for being in the ballot. We may also have some local or regional parties (we may learn from the banking industry) or we predicate the continuous ballot appearance on the performance in the previous election. Thus a party that won no seat is deregistered or kept off ballot; a party that one state assembly seat becomes a state party while the one that wins one national seat becomes a regional party. Whatever the case, we MUST do something about this or else before long, the number of parties may exceed the number of voters!

When William Clay declared that politics is a game of interest and that in politics, there are no permanent enemies or permanent friends; he might have had Nigeria in mind! One of the serious matters that arose from the 2019 elections was the war of attrition between several political allies or people who were previously political allies or people we thought were political allies. On this matter, the gold medal was won by the sterling performance of Wike and Amaechi of River State. In 2007, after ascending to the Rivers gubernatorial throne, Amaechi allegedly declared ´I owe two people gratitude for contributing to my emergence as Governor. The first is God almighty. The 2nd is my brother and friend, Wike who fought tirelessly and made me reclaim my stolen mandate. I will always be grateful to him because he is a true brother and a friend to depend on´. The statement which some mischievous fellows exhumed and circulated in the last few days has not been denied and as such, it has a high probability of being true. Even without that statement, the Jonathan-David bond between the two Port Harcourt boys is legendary. But the epic battle we witnessed between the two friends and brothers, especially when APC was not contesting, stands out as a proof of Clay’s hypothesis!

Another matter that arose is that godfathers come and go (some have just gone; some totally and some partially) and that they cannot really do and undo as we think. The former ‘godfather of godfathers’ in Anambra state, Chris Uba has gone finally; he failed woefully and that was despite the pro-PDP mindset in Anambra during the national elections. Even the Uba political dynasty has been dismantled, just as it happened to Saraki in Kwara. The god-father credentials of Okorocha, Ajumobi and even Amosu have lost currency and vitality in the aftermath of the elections. The story of Dino Melaye has also shown that anybody who plays it right can survive even if the entire federal and state government machineries are arrayed against somebody.

Many other serious matters arose. All the incidents of vote buying, deliberate cancellation, voter intimidation, late release of results, destruction of ballot papers, terrorizing of INEC officials are indicators that our current electoral regime has outlived its usefulness. We should work towards electronic, one-day voting. This will solve the logistic nightmare, remove the need to lock down the economy and minimize the temper that arises after every 4 years due to the current electoral processes. Other matters will be discussed as we examine the 20 years of democracy one of these days. But I have a question: How come that in states that took 5 days to release the presidential results, it took just 24 hours to release the state-level results? Who was cooking what?
Other matters: Igbos, we no trust una again!

The above statement was credited to Remi Tinubu, a serving senator and the wife of APC leader, Bola Tinubu.  May be because I am not a politician, I don’t understand this party-leader affair; after all, the parties have chairmen zonal chair and other elected officials, but this is by the way. Initially, I thought it was fake news through manipulated videography.  But the story went from online to off-line, hard copy newspapers and there was no denial or clarification. Eventually, I believed that it is true. She told a physically challenged Igbo-Man on the day of state-level elections, who had obviously asked for some handouts, that ‘we’ do not trust una again because of their voter preferences on 9/2/19.  Beyond her un-senatorial carriage in the video, how does such a careless remark add value to the efforts to build the nation? How does that douse the ethnically charged Lagos environment, which started in 2015 when the Oba of Lagos threatened to dump that physically challenged man and his brethren into the ocean if they voted otherwise. Is there a relationship between that statement and the activities of Demola and others like him on 9/3/19? How can a supposed stateswoman make such un-states-womanly  remarks? Anyway, this type of matter has been settled long ago when our Lord Jesus Christ declared that: out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew, 12:34) or when our people said that the spoken word is the visible heart.  She has spoken and the contants of her heart have been laid bare! Senatoress, I hail oo!

Muo wrote from Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye.

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