Apart from promising Nigerians heaven and earth when sworn in, the President-Elect also completely lacks democratic pedigree needed to blend and bind and smoothly govern highly multi ethno-religiously divided country called Nigeria. For instance, it is correct to say that the President-Elect is notoriously ignorant of the sanctity of the ballot box and the need to respect and uphold same at all times. Till date, the President-Elect has not ceased in making provocative, divisive and vindictive remarks against the electoral decisions of Nigerians who voted for political parties other than his APC particularly the voters of the Southeast and the South-south geopolitical zones. He is also very bitter and unhappy with the pattern of voting in Lagos State where his party-APC was given a hot chase by his opponent party-PDP with difference of 160,000 and 150,000 votes in favor of his party against his opponent party in the Presidential/National Legislative (792,000 votes for APC & 632,000 for PDP) and the Governorship/State Legislative polls (811,000 votes for APC & 659,000 for PDP) respectively.
The President-Elect must have expected a one party voting pattern in Lagos State in total disregard to the irrevocable rights of the citizens of Nigeria to vote freely and conscientiously not minding the ethno-religious backgrounds of their preferred candidates. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari has also continuously made highly negative references to the voting and its patterns in “the South” particularly the Southeast and the South-south geopolitical zones. Each time he speaks, he describes the voting in the area as “a sham” on account of the massive rejection of his APC by the people of the two zones. In his recent press interviews to a number of foreign news agencies including the BBC Hausa Service, he made same negative and provocative comments. In his interview last Saturday (11th April) after his voting in Daura, he singled out for extensive attacks the South-south and the Southeast including the States of Edo, Rivers and Imo where his party governs no thanks to defection (in Rivers and Imo States).
The President-Elect’s perceived primordial sense of reasoning and judgment totally makes it very difficult for him to pause and ask: “why are the people of the South-south and the Southeast both home and outside rejecting my Party and candidacy at polls and how can they be pacified for the sake of united, purposeful and prosperous Nigeria?”
It is extremely important to state here that those gifted and equipped to govern well in multi ethno-religious democracy should fundamentally x-ray and see the electoral decisions of the ethnic nationalities against them as early warning signals that must be bottled and removed from transforming into triggers of intractable socio-value conflict and other disturbances now or in future.
Conversely, under the President-Elect and its party, the reverse is grossly the case. For instance, while the two referenced polls in the Southeast and the South-south zones are “a sham” in the eyes and perception of the President-Elect and his Party-APC; those held in the North are seen by them as “very credible”. In Mr. Muhammadu Buhari’s interview under reference, he saw nothing wrong in the polls held in the North, but saw everything wrong in those held in the South. That millions of voters in the North who voted in the two polls are under-age children do not amount to poll rigging in the eyes and perception of the President-Elect and his Party; likewise other widespread complaints of electoral malpractices in his zone and the South made against his Party and its agents.
In a recent interview with the Channel’s Television, the out-going governor of Kano State, Mr. Musa Kwankwaso admitted that “Almajiris” (millions of uncared and abandoned children in the North) were used to vote out President Goodluck Jonathan”. Despite the fact that the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act of 2010 totally ban and forbid children under the age of 18 years from voting, the likes of the President-Elect sees nothing wrong in it criminally, morally and socially. The international observers have also turned blind eyes over the issue and concentrated in the South. The Northern political leaders including the President-Elect appear worried over efforts to educate and develop the “Almajiris” and prefer using them for political violence and roguish and illegitimate voting for the purpose of grabbing democratic powers. This can be inferred from Gov Kwankwaso’s statement under reference.
In Rivers State, over one million, four hundred thousand votes went to the opponent party (PDP) of the President-Elect while a paltry number went to his party-APC following the referenced Presidential poll. As expected, the President-Elect and his party described it as “a sham and massive rigging”. Again, in the governorship poll held in the State, another one million plus votes went to the party opposing the APC and the same labeling rented the air. Rivers State is a State under APC control by defection with all security apparatus under its fold. The referenced State’s out-going governor ascended to governorship through judicial coronation. The State as APC State by defection; is also reported to have bankrolled recent APC State and national polls owing to its status as the richest oil State in Nigeria. Lagos State is also said to be the second APC sponsor State. It is important to state here that the loss of the two polls in Rivers State by the President-Elect and his party-APC is likely to go beyond allegations of widespread rigging.
The President-Elect and his party-APC are also very intolerant, undemocratic and alarmist. Their constant reference to poll results where they lost as “sham” and “widely rigged” is not only a case in point, but also despicable and condemnable. For instance, when the President-Elect and his APC was in a verge of winning the presidential election, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan called and congratulated him and conceded defeat; when Mr. Samuel Ortom of APC was in a verge of winning the Benue State gubernatorial election, incumbent Gov. Gabriel Suswan of PDP called and congratulated him in advance.
When Mallam Nasir El-rufai of APC was in a verge of winning the Kaduna State gubernatorial election, incumbent Gov Mukhtar Yero of PDP called and congratulated him in advance; when Mr. Bindo Mohammed Jibrilla of APC was in a verge of winning the Adamawa State governorship poll, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu of PDP who came third, conceded defeat and congratulated him; when incumbent Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State and his APC was in a verge of winning the governorship poll, former Governor Alao-Akala of LP called and congratulated him in advance; when incumbent Gov. Ibukunle Amosun was in a verge of winning the Ogun State governorship poll, Mr. Gboyega Isiaka of PDP called and congratulated him in advance.
Conversely, when Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of PDP won the Enugu State's gubernatorial election, Mr. Okey Ezea of APC called for cancellation of the results on account of alleged malpractices; when incumbent Gov. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of PDP won the Gombe State governorship the APC supporters burnt down an Emir’s Palace; when Sen. Gyang Pwajok of PDP was taken an early lead in the Plateau State governorship poll, Mr. Simon Lalong of APC, who eventually won, called for outright cancellation of the poll; when Mr. Udom Emmanuel of PDP won the Akwa-Ibom State governorship poll with 996,000 votes, Mr. Umana Umana of APC who scored 89, 000 votes called for cancellation of the entire election.
Further, when Mr. Nyesom Nwike of PDP was in a verge of winning the Rivers State governorship poll, incumbent Gov. Rotimi Amechi called the election a sham and demanded for outright cancellation of the entire exercise; when Gov. Peter Ayodele Fayose and his PDP swept most, if not all the seats in the State’s House of Assembly in Ekiti State, APC cried foul and alleged malpractices and called for cancellation of the poll; and when Gov. Olusegun Mimiko and his PDP won majority seats in the Ondo House of Assembly, the APC rejected the outcome and called for cancellation of the exercise. This is just to mention but a few.
In all, the truth about the just held 2015 general elections in Nigeria is that while the projected explosion of widespread violence was avoided owing to political maturity and civility of Igbo race and the country’s minority ethnic nationalities that were demographically and systematically rigged; the referenced polls fundamentally failed the litmus test of international best practices. As it stands now, three governorship polls have been declared inconclusive owing to poll malpractices and INEC’s gross incompetence.
The polls generally speaking, have been marred by ethnic and religious divisions, political exclusion, mass disenfranchisement, under-age voting, ethno-religious balkanization, scientific rigging using electronic technology configured along ethno-religious segregation, widespread rigging, violence, as well as impartiality and gross incompetence on the part of Independent National Electoral Commission. Truly speaking, the roguishness associated with the 2015 general elections in Nigeria is comparable in most respects with the 2007 general polls. The 2011 polls, other than its post poll violence; remains the best among the Nigeria’s highly tainted civilian-to-civilian polls of the immediate past.
In view of these, therefore, we wish to state firmly that although the short-term negative outcomes or consequences of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria appeared bottled in terms of projected immediate large scale explosion of violence; there are still long term aspect that must be escorted and cocooned at all times. We seriously doubt the competence and statesmanship potentials of the President-Elect and his Party in handling them.
For the President-Elect to handle the referenced long term triggers, he must be made to change his present vengeance or vindictive and primordialist dispositions. In view of his perceived lack of statesmanship, his Party-APC and its foreign backers must come to his rescue by offering him thorough tutorship in democratic principles including political tolerance, rule of law, respect for voting rights and sanctity of the ballot box, respect for civil liberties, due process and multi ethnic democratic governance and ethno-religious and cultural pluralism.
As the President-Elect, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari ought to be a statesman and father of all to be able to govern smoothly, happily and prosperously a country like Nigeria, which has over 250 ethnic groups and multi religions to its credit. The President-Elect also ought to be fair and accommodating in his referenced public comments. Open exhibition of ethnic, sectional, religious and political disdain against other ethnic nationalities through unfair and primordialist public comments particularly directed against those that voted against him and his Party; constitutes a political battle line with fare reaching consequences both in short term and long terms. When a people feel threatened, culturally, economically and religiously, they can do anything to repel it no matter their size and geopolitical landscape.
The President-Elect ought to have congratulated all Nigerians for successfully voting the candidates and parties of their choice and conscience irrespective of their geopolitical landscapes and ethno-religious groupings. If he thinks that the 2015 general polls in Nigeria were rigged in whole or in part; he should have avoided making sweeping and inciting public comments and implored and allowed the rigged to seek their mandate recovery from poll tribunals.
Interestingly, in all his public comments, he did not see any foul play involving his party-APC in the referenced two polls. In other words, it is only the PDP and others, excluding the APC that rigged in the 2015 polls. The fact that some INEC returning officers with pricking conscience have publicly revealed how they were forced by APC chieftains in places like Oru East LGA of Imo State to write results in favor of their candidates including Gov Rochas Okoroacha; does not mean anything to the President-Elect or constitute rigging. Mr. Buhari’s condemnation of poll rigging should have been made across board including riggers in his party. Till date, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, who once revealed that “election that brought him into office was rigged” is still seen in many quarters as a conscientious statesman and a major contributor to Nigeria’s anti poll rigging therapy.
To avoid disasters of leadership hovering around the President-Elect, which may explode during his Presidency, we pray his party-APC and its foreign backers in USA and Europe to quickly ferry the President-Elect to the National Democratic Institute in USA to be drilled and mentored in democratic governance and principles.
Interestingly, till date, there are no records of the President-Elect attending any local or international workshop, seminar or fellowship on civil governance, democracy and rights related issues. All his records started and ended with the military. As closed as China is in its politics, its President, Mr. Xi Jinping (62), who was born on 15th June 1953; attended the United States’ Department sponsored International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) (on democracy, good governance & rule of law) 29 years ago at the age of 34.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Barr Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Barr Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program