Wednesday, 4th October 2023

‘There’s no point voting if election winners are decided by courts’

By Obire Onakemu
13 May 2023   |   4:05 am
Chief Tunde Daramola, a former member, Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former ex-officio member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a stakeholder of the party in Lagos State.


Chief Tunde Daramola, a former member, Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former ex-officio member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a stakeholder of the party in Lagos State, speaks to OBIRE ONAKEMU on the 2023 general election, its outcome and the future of democracy in the country.

After the 2023 general election, how do you see to the state of the nation?
There is quietness of the graveyard. What I meant by that is that only God knows what is best for the country. We lost an opportunity to have an all-inclusive democracy whereby people can trust their electoral process and people could say my vote would count. The administration promised a free, fair and credible election but what happened on the 25th of February and on the 18th of March is a far cry from the promise and an opportunity missed. Only God knows whether we can recover from it.

Forget about the huge amount of money spent on acquiring BVAS and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) platforms. The most important thing is the credibility of the process, where people can say truly and fairly this person won or lost. But the moment the INEC-laid down process was jettisoned, it was an opportunity lost, but I hope it was not lost forever.

What is your reaction to the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the president- elect?
It is the crux of the matter. The process of his emergence, which is being challenged by the major presidential candidates – Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PD). I cannot really say much, but if the process was credible enough, if Tinubu won free and fair squarely in the election, so be it. What is important is the kind of government that he will run. It is the same administration of the APC that promised heaven and earth.

They promised that fuel price was going to be brought down from N95 or N79 but instead of being brought down, we witnessed an increase to N185 per litre. The same APC administration cried foul when former President Goodluck Jonathan increase the fuel price. The exchange rate was about N190 to a dollar and we know what it is today. So, by the time the next APC administration comes into office, l hope that we would not be buying fuel at N500 per litre, which will jerk up the cost of transportation, food prices and housing. It doesn’t matter whether it is Tinubu, Atiku or Obi. What actually matters is that we need to suspend the trend, which is making life to become unbearable for the masses.

Does it mean we are far from true democracy in Nigeria based on the outcome of the just-concluded election?
The just-concluded election is not different from the ones that we had held in the past where at the collation centres you manipulate the results from the polling units. What was promised by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was that with the introduction of the BVAS machine, once the result is reported on the BVAS, it would become possible to be seen by everybody. What we had was a sham of an election.

How would you compare this February 25th presidential election to that of June 12, 1993?
The Bashorun M.K.O Abiola’s June 12 presidential election happened to be the best election that Nigeria ever had. This is because it was option A-4 that was used. We don’t need all these money that was stolen and was said to have been used to purchase BVAS and the rest that were not used. You line up behind the boxes and we count. And that is very difficult to manipulate. We count and everybody takes the results away. The June 12, 1993, is the best and most credible election held in Nigeria but it never materialised or came to fruition because it was frustrated.

What is your reaction to INEC challenging Obi’s suit on BVAS?
INEC is free to challenge the suit but I think the right thing should have been Obi challenging INEC’s results, which are allegedly not in tandem with what was recorded on the BVAS.

We were assured by INEC that results would be transmitted real-time to Nigerians, which was never done and this gave room for suspicion. INEC has a duty to prove to Nigerians the credibility in the results.

Considering the allegation of plot to Islamise Nigeria, how do you see the emergence of Tinubu/Shettima as APC Muslim-Muslim ticket?
I personally don’t know Tinubu but I don’t think he is much of a religious person. I said in an interview granted The Guardian that the choice of Shettima is not because of religion. It was more because of access to Boko Haram and the herdsmen. That is what I suspect of Tinubu choosing Shettima as his running mate.

Today in Nigeria politics, what do we really mean by structure?
I was one of those who said that the Labour Party (LP) had no structure but I took it back because what is meant by structure is by having party offices and people in places, particularly at ward and zonal levels. Why I took it back was that a lot of people in APC and PDP migrated to Labour Party and a lot of youths migrated to Labour Party. But what we saw in the 2023 election, I have said it and I want to repeat it, was a structure of criminality and violence through the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Boko Haram who perpetrated mayhem and violence, suppressing voters.

What hope is there for the survival of democracy in Nigeria?
What is happening currently is a situation where elections are rigged. You go to the court and the court determines who is the governor or who is the president. If we continue to rely on the judiciary to determine who will lead us, then there is no point for the masses voting. What is the purpose of our voting when the judiciary determines our leaders? So, the future of our democracy, to me, is a mirage.

How would you end this interview?
I want to conclude by saying that the judiciary and INEC are on trial. Whatever is the outcome of the court process will determine the future of our country. I hope and pray that the judiciary will take into consideration the peace of the nation, which is paramount. INEC is on trial because they are the one that conducted the election and they are the ones that should prove to the whole nation how credible was the process. They are on trial just like the judiciary is on trial because people are watching; people are hoping that the last hope of the common man is the judiciary.