Why I didn’t support Ribadu — El-Rufai

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has passed a vote of no confidence in President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo, saying the duo cannot bring Nigeria out of the woods.

El-Rufai also said that Jonathan’s comment on the crisis that trailed the outcome of the presidential election is irresponsible. “I believe that Goodluck Jonathan and Sambo are not anywhere near in capacity to deliver Nigeria out of the woods that Buhari/Bakare could do. I have made that statement even before I joined the team and I stand by that. But this was my basis: I believe that Buhari/Bakare was by far, the most competent ticket,” he said.

On the post-presidential election crisis, El-Rufai said: “Six days after this crisis started, the Presidency said nothing. Complete indifference. And when Jonathan chose to speak, he was raising the spectre of Biafra. That was not a responsible response, with all due respect.”

Speaking further, the former director general of the Bureau for Public Enterprise said: “The three leading presidential candidates in this election are people I know very, very well. Nuhu Ribadu is my friend and my brother and if I am to choose whom to support on the basis of friendship and brotherhood, Nuhu will be number one because he is the closest to me.

“Goodluck Jonathan, I have known since he was deputy governor. He is my friend. I visited him several times when he was governor of Bayelsa State. He has visited my house; we have had dinner several times together. I know him. But more than Nuhu Ribadu, Nigerians know him as president because he has been there for one year and they can see how he has governed the country.

“General Muhammadu Buhari was president from 1983 to 1985. I was a young guy then but he inspired many of us with the rules of discipline, probity and integrity and many of us that came into public service with the passion that we did well, were inspired by the example of Buhari-Idiagbon regime and the Murtala-Obasanjo regime before it. And in my opinion, among the three contestants, Buhari/Bakare ticket was by far, the best of the three. That is why, against all appeals to my friendship with Nuhu Ribadu, my brotherhood with him or my friendship with Goodluck Jonathan, I pitched my tent with the Buhari/Bakare ticket. I think that was the ticket that was likely to change the direction of Nigeria for the better.”

How would you describe the just concluded elections?
Well, election is a multi-step process: you register, you get accredited, you vote, the votes are counted and results are announced. I will be the first to admit that the registration has improved greatly and in my view, the biometric register that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been able to come up with, is one of the most reliable that we have had in our history.

Secondly, I think the voting process at the polling unit level has improved dramatically. It has largely been peaceful in most parts of Nigeria; there have been lower instances of ballot stuffing than before. So, to that extent, there has been improvement to that level. But beyond that, nothing has changed because the systematic falsification of results begins immediately the results and the results sheets leave the polling units and we are going to produce evidence of that as we go through the tribunal process.

There is massive thumb-printing of ballot papers and attempt to bring them into the system all through the country. In some parts of the country, for the presidential election, there was really no election. Results were just written and announced like it has been in the past. So, while one would admit that certain steps in the election process have improved, on the whole, the outcome has not improved. Falsification of results is still the order of the day and most of what you have seen announced as results of the election, have no connection with the actual number of votes cast by the citizens of this country.

Are you saying there is no much difference between the 2007 and 2011 elections?
There are some differences in the sense that the registration has improved. We don’t have names like Mike Tyson in the register now. The election process itself has improved, in the sense that people queue, get accredited and register. These are the only improvements and I would say that is the only difference but beyond that, nothing has changed. The improvement, if any, has been marginal.

There is the allegation that the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, connived with President Goodluck Jonathan to rig the elections. Is it true?
I would not go as far as that because I believe that Attahiru Jega is a decent man and I believe he tried his best to have credible elections. And within the factors in his control, the registration he did was decent. He organized the elections and have people line up and do it peacefully. I think he tried his best. Resident Electoral Commissioners and some governors failed him, but on the whole, he tried.

I would not go as far as saying that he went into the election willfully to lead to the result that we have. But I think there were some things that were a way above him. I think he could have done better in some areas. For instance, if results were brought to you and they don’t add up, I would not say go and reconcile. I would cancel the result and say do it again. But that is my opinion and I am not under the same pressure or have the same information that he has. So, I would not go as far as condemning Attahiru Jega entirely. I would say that he got some things right, but many things went wrong and I hope that now that he has time to do a review and see where he has been deceived by those working with him, he will take corrective steps because ultimately, the only way we can have real elections in this country, that reflects the legitimacy of the people, is when the results at the polling units go directly to Attahiru Jega, for him to announce the results of the election without any human intervention in-between. This is what he has to work on, but I don’t think he went into this election with any willful desire to be dishonest.

What are those corrective steps and what do you intend to achieve with the tribunal?
The corrective steps are very simple, in my view. You have to eliminate human agency between the time and point that people vote at the polling unit level and results are announced to the ultimate announcement of the results. Today, with the technologies that exist, it should be possible that as soon as we finish voting, results are announced. I see no reason with the technologies that we have now, communication technologies and encrypting technologies, that these results cannot be sent directly to a central computer in INEC that will tabulate the results automatically and as soon as all the results are out, announce the winner without any human being intervening in-between. What we have seen in this election is that as soon as you take the result sheets to a collation centre, a zero is added or the results are changed, or the results sheet is torn and a new one done and party agents’ signatures forged. So, you have to remove that human intervention. Unless you remove it, we will never have clean elections in the country because those that are in authority will try to alter the results to their benefit. Those are the corrective steps and the technologies exist to do that. It is up to Jega to figure out how to do it in a cost effective and transparent manner.

The main reason I think that the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), our party, decided to go to the tribunal is to deepen and broaden our democracy because as long as people in power feel that they can cheat in elections and get away with it, governance in Nigeria will never improve. Unless people know that in the next four years if they don’t work for the people they can be voted out, we will continue to have bad governance. This is why we are going to the tribunal. We want to know how many votes were actually cast for each candidate in this election, who won the election and if no one won, let the judges decide. We will get the ballots examined to remove all those that were thumb-printed overnight by government officials and other people and stuffed in ballot boxes and declared for one candidate or another. If at the end of the day, these false results are eliminated and we have the proper results of the election, I think it will go a long way in sending a message to all election riggers that they will only have a few days to enjoy the fruit of their rigging.

Secondly, the biometric voters register will reveal the names and faces of all those that have participated in rigging elections because if you are a registered voter and you thumb-print, the biometric voters register will show your face, your name and everything. And our hope is that, that will give Jega that foundation to prosecute all those that engaged in multiple voting and multiple registrations and so on and so forth. At the end of the day, whatever the judges decide will determine whether democracy is broadened and deepened in this country and election riggers are punished and the real results of the election will be known to every Nigerian and when the real results are known, the winner can be congratulated by the loser and there will be no argument. But right now, we have argument because there is evidence available to us that there was thumb-printing of ballot papers in virtually every election. Not just the presidential election but virtually every election that has taken place and most of the results that were announced. As we speak, the ballot papers are being thumb-printed to match those results. So, we want the technology to be applied; we want the evidence to be presented, so that we can know how many people voted for Jonathan, how many people voted for Buhari, how many people voted for Ribadu truly as well as every other candidate in every election that we are challenging. We hope that at the end of the day, that will take Nigeria’s democracy forward.

Specifically, where do you situate the blame?
I think the blame lies fairly and squarely on INEC because it is their job to conduct clean elections. If they were not ready and they did not have the infrastructure in place and the capability in place to ensure that this rigging doesn’t happen, it is their fault.

Secondly, how did the incumbent governors and the team from the president’s campaign team got ballot papers?
They couldn’t have got them from any other person but INEC. But they did get ballot papers, they have thumb-printed them and they have been declared winners. So, the blame falls largely on INEC because INEC is independent and they could do whatever they want and some of them succumbed to pressure of authority and got ballot papers to the ruling party in every election to rig. The primary blame is on INEC but the secondary blame is on the government of the day because it used the security agencies and other coercive instruments of state to create a militarize situation to rig elections. In my state, up till today, we have a curfew.

Would you say the international community was misled?
The international community was deceived. It was 419 because what they saw was Nigerians lining up and voting and they thought that was the end of the election. They cannot understand that any public official will alter the results because in their country, that is perjury. That is a big offence. It is perjury and it is obstruction of justice and you go to long prison terms if you do that. But they don’t know that in Nigeria, no one has been convicted, in recent time, for those kinds of offences and that people do it with impunity. The international community was hoodwinked but by God’s grace, by the time the tribunal process is over and the real results are shown and technologies apply to show how many times some people voted, I think the international community will come to the understanding of what happened.

Do you think the president would try to pervert the cause of justice?
I don’t want to judge him or presume that he will pervert the cause of justice. We will have to wait and see but Nigerians should not just wait and allow anyone to pervert the cause of justice. We should be vigilant; we should bring out all the facts and we should ensure that justice is done. No one, no one however powerful, should be allowed to pervert the cause of justice and I hope no one tries.

Some Nigerians have blamed General Muhammadu Buhari for the crisis that trailed the outcome of the presidential election, while Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and Asari Dokubo, have even called for his arrest. Should the blame be on General Buhari? Should he be arrested?
Let me start by asking, why did the violence happen? It is very easy to be simplistic about this or be emotional about this. This violence did not take place 10 days before the election. It took place a few days after the election and what was it? It was a reaction to what many people saw as patent falsification of results and cheating and it was not the first time it was happening in Nigeria’s history. In 1964, we had elections that led to crisis in the West. A state of emergency was declared.

In 1983, we had elections in which the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) tried to steal the elections in Ondo State and there was violence; there were killings. Nobody came out and called for the arrest of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In 1993, the elections were annulled and there was crisis; there were killings in the South-West. Nobody said it was a religious crisis or called for the arrest of anyone. So, I don’t understand all these funny people going round, saying Buhari should be arrested. I don’t know whether they have read history or understand what they are saying.

In what way is Buhari responsible for this? Is the government not responsible for the security of life and property? Don’t they read security report? Don’t they know that if they are a competent government flawed elections could lead to crisis? What did they do to pre-empt it? What did they do? They did nothing to pre-empt this and when the crisis started, they were late in responding to it. Everyone was calling on General Buhari to intervene. Does General Buhari control the police? Does he control the army? Why were they asking him to intervene? They were asking him to intervene because he is the only person with the moral authority to call this thing to an end. They have lost moral authority; they have no control of coercive instruments of power because they were behind the whole crisis. They created it.

This crisis started Monday morning. By afternoon, General Buhari flew from Daura to Abuja, spoke to Aljazeera, spoke to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service and any other medium he could find, to appeal to everyone to calm down, that this is not the way to resolve political disagreement. He did his best. Why is he being blamed? And this Oritsejafor and Asari Dokubo that are calling for the arrest of General Buhari, are they drunk? Do they understand what they are doing? Arrest him for what? For what? I don’t understand people that make these statements, whether they have any idea of how to govern a country because when you are governing a country, the first order of business is peace and order. And they make such careless statements, which do not help anyone.

It was also reported that the party justified the killings. Are you toeing the same line?
No, no, no, no, no. The party justified the killings in what way? The National legal adviser of the party issued a statement, explaining that this is the position of the party and this is why we are going to the tribunal. One newspaper, out of all the newspapers in Nigeria, out of all the communication media in Nigeria, came up with this headline ‘CPC justifies killings,’ and the following day, the Presidency issued a statement along the same line. Clearly, you can see that the Presidency and this newspaper are working in cohort to create a false impression. If CPC justified killings in that statement, every other newspaper in Nigeria would get it. Why didn’t they have the same headline? When did the national legal adviser say CPC justified the killings? And in what circumstances can any reasonable person justify the killing of another? What circumstances? We are a responsible people, a reasonable people. We believe in the progress of this country. How can anyone justify the killing of another?

How do you see the reaction of the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) towards the killings?
Complete indifference because six days after this crisis started, the Presidency said nothing. And when Jonathan chose to speak, he was raising the spectre of Biafra. That was not a responsible response, with all due respect. So, there is complete indifference. There is a feeling that ok, northerners are killing themselves, it is ok. But these people are Nigerians and they are entitled to respect and the preservation of their life and property. And that is the primary duty of the government, which it has failed to do in my opinion.

Was the crisis fairly reported in the media?
I think the reporting by the media is pathetic. I am sorry. The reporting has been one sided, lacked depth and what the media were doing, was actually contributing more to the crisis because by pushing the agenda that someone else is responsible for protection of life and property other than the sitting government of the country, I think they were encouraging crisis in itself because that is what they tried to do by pushing the agenda that the CPC is to blame, rather than saying the government failed to be pre-emptive, failed to be responsive to this crisis and I think it is contributing to the problems of the country.

There seems to be a conspiracy of some sort not to report everything that has happened in this crisis. For instance, in my state, Kaduna, hundreds of people were killed. Most of them that were killed were killed because they were suspected to be CPC supporters. These killings took place on both sides and I am not justifying anything. I am not saying it is right. I don’t agree to anyone killing another under any circumstances without the due process of law. But the whole focus of the media was on the death of 10 youth corps members. They even forgot that before the elections started, youth corps members were killed in Suleja, Niger State. They were bombed. They died. Nobody is talking about them. The focus is just on 10 youth corpers in Bauchi, to the exclusion of every one else.

Now, human life is sacred and no human life is better than another or more deserving of attention than another. In my state, hundreds of people were killed; no paper reported it except one. What is going on? Should not all the facts come out so that we learn from this and ensure that it is not repeated? But the spin it has got is to blame someone else rather than solve the problem. And I have deep problems with that.

Why do you think the media reported half of the crisis?
I don’t know. You should ask the media. The story going round is that some have been paid not to report certain things. We have just shown you a video where hundreds of people were put in mass graves and pictures of CPC office and Mosque and so on being burnt down. That is one side of the story. I am not saying that you should report only that side, but the media should report every side. Churches were burnt. Mosques were also burnt and innocent people were killed that were CPC supporters, that were PDP supporters. Why did it happen? What should we do to ensure that no Nigerian ever get killed in this kind of situation because it has happened too often? As I said, it happened in 1964, 1983, 1993 and it has happened again. What needs to be studied is the fundamental problem that led to this. And we should address it. But to slant stories so that you blame someone else to reach a pre-determined conclusion, I think it is irresponsible journalism.

Did you foresee that kind of situation before the election?
Look, any reasonable, thoughtful individual, living in Nigeria, knows that if the elections were not free and fair, there would be protest because the mood of the country was such that no one was ready to accept anything other than clean elections. And the mood of the country can be read from the bi-elections in Ekiti, Anambra and Delta. We can all see that the foundation was being laid that if elections were not generally free, fair and credible, there would be crisis of some sort. What shape or form that crisis will take, only God knows. But it is up to the government in power, to perceive this as others have perceived, to take pre-emptive steps and ensure that it doesn’t happen by first having clean elections and if the elections are not clean, taking the pre-emptive steps necessary to ensure that there is no violence. Let the protest, if there is going to be, be peaceful. But they did none of the above. They did none. They just sat back.

But why did it degenerate to sectarian crisis?
I don’t know at what point it degenerated because when it started, it was certainly not sectarian. Our suspicion, in Kaduna State at least, the information we got was that one of the PDP leaders said look, if you don’t muddy the waters, they will get all of us. So, some people were sponsored to go and burn a church and that gave it the sectarian coloration needed and in a place like Kaduna State, where religion and ethnic tensions have always been quite moderate to high, this was likely to happen because if you look at the pattern of this violence, you will see clearly.
Some people are saying sectarian. The Sultan of Sokoto’s palace was surrounded. Is he a Christian? Is the Emir of Kano a Christian? Is the Emir of Zauzau a Christian? Traditional rulers, respected at some point in our history, had their houses surrounded and youths were demanding to get at them. These people were not Christians. So, when did it become sectarian? It is not ethnic because these people are not Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw or whatever.

Ghali Na’Abba’s house in Kano was burnt. Is he a Christian or is he from Anambra State? This crisis started because people that are disempowered, felt that they have been cheated and in a spontaneous way, reacted by targeting people that they thought were responsible for their condition. This was how it started and of course, things went out of control. Nobody can justify violence or that reaction but it has happened?

How do you see the constitution of the 22-man panel by President Goodluck Jonathan to look into the crisis?
Well, legal opinions have been given to the effect that the president has no power under the constitution to establish such a panel. The judgment of the Supreme Court in Fawehinmi vs Babangida also establishes that without any doubt. So, there is a legal issue involved, whether the panel is duly constituted under the law because the president may not have the powers under the constitution and the law to do so. That is one. There is a legality question. And then, the panel has a credibility question because the same day that the president inaugurated the panel, his special adviser on media, issued a statement that the CPC was responsible for the violence. So, if the presidency that convened that panel has already decided that the CPC was guilty, what do you think the panel will come up with? It is not likely to come up with anything different because their convener has already said that someone is guilty. So, they have a credibility problem too. I am not saying they will necessarily come up with that conclusion but I am saying to Sheik Ahmed Lemu that his panel has a credibility problem, created by the same person that convened them. These are the two issues.

What is the way out?
The way out is to follow the law and to allow state governors to establish panels in their states to investigate the violence within their territory and the panel should consist of credible people, non-partisan people that are respected, to go into the root of this crisis so that once and for all, we address this culture in which the slightest thing leads to people killing each other. Neighbours killing each other! It is not right. It is wrong and we must put a stop to it, whether it is happening in Jos or Kaduna or anywhere else. We must put a stop to it and the only way to put a stop to it is to go to the root of the crisis, find those that were responsible and deal with them according to the law.

How do you see the five million naira gift to the bereaved?
No amount of money is enough to compensate for the loss of a human life. No amount of money. And I think rather than engage in populist hide-out, there is a need for a comprehensive policy to compensate victims of this kind of violence. Many people have been killed in Jos. What about them? 5, 000; 10, 000; 100,000! I think there should be a policy to deal with this kind of senseless deaths of every Nigerian. I have no opinion about how much money that is reasonable. I think if you get experts, they can debate that and come up with a figure that should be paid to every family that lost a relation from this crisis and all those that lost their property should be adequately compensated by the government and then we put in place, a system that will ensure that it is not repeated. Unless the government feels the pinch, actually pays the price of this violence, it will continue to repeat itself. So, I want us to go beyond five million for youth corps members and have a thoughtful and comprehensive policy to compensate innocent victims of violence, innocent victims of arson and destruction of property. We need that in the country and if necessary, we need legislation backing it. We need a comprehensive solution and not selective, populist ad hoc interventions. They would not work. They would not solve the problem.

How would you assess the president and his victory at the polls?
We don’t think he has won. That is why we are in the tribunal and we hope that the tribunal process, as I said, will not only deepen and broaden our democracy, but will determine who the winner is. If he is declared winner, other leaders of the CPC and I, will be happy to congratulate him. He has ruled Nigeria for one year. I think I leave every Nigerian to judge what the next four years are likely to be.

People always respect your opinion (he laughs). So, what is your take on President Goodluck Jonathan?
Look, I have already made my statement and I have made my choice. The three leading presidential candidates in this election are people I know very, very well. Nuhu Ribadu is my friend and my brother and if I am to choose whom to support on the basis of friendship and brotherhood, Nuhu will be number one because he is the closest to me. Goodluck Jonathan, I have known since he was deputy governor. He is my friend. I visited him several times when he was governor of Bayelsa; he has visited my house, and we have had dinner several times together. I know him. But more than Nuhu Ribadu, Nigerians know him as president because he has been there for one year and they can see how he has governed the country.
General Muhammdu Buhari was head of state from 1983 to 1985. I was a young guy then but he inspired many of us with the rules of discipline, probity and integrity and many of us that came into public service with the passion that we did well, were inspired by the example of Buhari-Idiagbon regime and the Murtala-Obasanjo regime before it. And in my opinion, among the three contestants, Buhari/Bakare ticket was by far, the best of the three. That is why against all appeals to my friendship with Nuhu Ribadu, my brotherhood with him or my friendship with Goodluck Jonathan, I pitched my tent with the Buhari/Bakare ticket. I think that was the ticket that was likely to change the direction of Nigeria for the better.

Was that why you left the PDP?
No. I left PDP long before. I left the PDP when our attempts at reforms failed. And the shape of the PDP of today is not in anything near the PDP that I was a member of when I joined in 1999. And I left! After the reforms failed, I said there is no hope in the party and I left. I did not join the CPC until a little later. But this was my basis: I believe that Buhari/Bakare was by far, the most competent ticket and I believe that Goodluck Jonathan and Sambo are not anywhere near in capacity to deliver Nigeria out of the woods that Buhari/Bakare could do. I have made that statement even before I joined the team and I stand by that. But I don’t want to judge anyone. And if Jonathan is our bona fide president, we will congratulate him and pray for him if the tribunal declares him the winner, we will pray for him to succeed because his success is the success of every Nigerian. But I don’t want to judge him in advance. I want people to look at the last one year and project where the next one year will be if he remains president.

http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/news/national/2011/may/21/national-21-05-2011-01.html

Goodluck Jonathan And The Expectations Of Nigerians

Lecture delivered by Festus Keyamo on the occasion of the marking of Isaac Adaka Boro Day in Port-Harcourt on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Permit me to wholeheartedly thank the organisers of this event for having considered me worthy enough to stand before you to say a few things to mark this day. It was only a few days ago that my friend and brother, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari informed me that I have been chosen to say some things on this occasion. He duly informed me that the topic would be “Goodluck Jonathan and the expectations of Nigerians”.
 
It is so apposite that today, being a day set aside to celebrate the life and times of Isaac Adaka Boro,  we are discussing Goodluck Jonathan, the first person (whether military or civilian) from the South-South extraction to become President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There is no gain-saying the fact that the central theme of the life and times of Isaac Adaka Boro was the struggle against the marginalisation and oppression of the minorities from the South-South region especially the Ijaw nation. He was prepared to live and die for that cause.
 
Coincidentally, it was the same time in history that Adaka Boro lived and died for his people that Martin Luther King also lived and died for his race in America . Curiously, it is now the same period in history that the dream of Martin Luther King to have one of his own (a black man) become the President of America on the principle of equality that he preached, that one of the dreams of Isaac Adaka Boro which is the emergence of an Ijaw man, (a minority) to become the President of Nigeria has also materialised.
 
It is because of this long wait for the presidency and long- suffering of the people of the South-South region that it has become almost impracticable for Jonathan to do any wrong in the eyes of some of our people from the South-South region. That is why it is so difficult to criticise your own brother or blood in public. People would normally expect you to make such matters a family affair. Hence, this topic given to me today is a difficult one from the point of sentiments, but an easy one from the stand point of truth and statistics. So my brothers here today must forgive me if I appear too hard on the side of truth and honesty in assessing Goodluck Jonathan.
 
The sentiments that preceded the emergence of Jonathan as President when a cabal that was beholden to the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua treated him so shabbily as Vice-president and tried to prevent him from wielding executive powers, coupled with his minority status that gives him the character of an underdog in a shark infested political environment, are the major twin reasons he has enjoyed some level of sympathetic support and consideration from political bystanders and even from normally critical sections of the country.
 
However, let me warn that this is where the danger lies, that is, if we treat the administration of Goodluck Jonathan with kid gloves because of these sentiments mentioned above and especially because he is one of us from the South-South region. I think it is enough of the holiday Jonathan has enjoyed from the critical section of the country. If we turn the blind eye and a deaf hear when we see evil and hear evil under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, we shall have no moral basis to mount any crusade in future against bad governments if the heads of those governments happen to be from other parts of the country. There is also a danger of allowing a government rest on its oars if we do not put it on its toes. Therefore, this is a clarion call to all of us not to ethnicise corruption and bad government under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. Because, really, shorn of these sentiments I mentioned earlier, Goodluck Jonathan is really not a breath of fresh air that he professes to be. He is same of the same. These are my reasons:
 
Goodluck Jonathan has been a top member of the PDP since the return to democracy in 1999. He was first Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State , and later Governor, then Vice-president, then Acting President and finally President. All these positions are some of the highest positions given to him by the ruling party since 1999. So Goodluck Jonathan cannot claim not to have been part of the rigging machine of the ruling party and mal-administration of the ruling party since 1999 till date. When it is convenient, they tell us that Goodluck Jonathan has a lot of experience that even that of Atiku Abubakar could not match his own, and when it is not convenient, he distances himself from other politicians and they tell us that he is a breath of fresh air. How fresh that air is, I don’t know. Yet, because he is one of us, we are told that we must accept him and tolerate him. We have no choice.
 
Two, if we are angry at Obasanjo for sending soldiers to kill hundreds of innocent lives in Odi and Benue State during his tenure under the guise of looking for some militants or miscreants, what can we say about Goodluck Jonathan who ordered soldiers to invade the Ijaw village of Ayakoromo in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State immediately he became President last year to kill, maim and burn the houses of innocent souls?. And even last week Thursday, May 12, 2011, Goodluck Jonathan again, ordered troops back to Ayakoromo village and in the guise of looking for John Togo, an acclaimed Militant, properties were again destroyed and innocent lives were lost. What a breath of fresh air indeed! Yet we are told that we must accept him and we must tolerate him because he is one of our own
 
Three, if we accuse previous Government of condoning corruption, what has Goodluck Jonathan done about those high ranking public officers that have been accused and investigated for corruption and corrupt practices and yet Goodluck Jonathan have not done anything about them. For instance, I have openly accused the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, of forging all his Certificates to become the Comptroller-General of Customs, which accusations and claims have been confirmed by the Institutions concerned by their refusal to confirm that he attended them and obtained those degrees, yet Goodluck Jonathan has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to this issue because the Comptroller-General of Customs is an in-law to the wife of his late boss, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. In fact, in order to appease Jonathan and to thank him for condoning him, the Comptroller-General of Customs recently commissioned a whole housing scheme in Abuja for Customs officers and named it after Goodluck Jonathan.
 
The present Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Dimeji Bankole, has also been investigated by various security agencies for corruption, yet the President has prevented his trial for corruption because of political consideration. That is why when Bankole accepted his woeful defeat in my mother’s State, Ogun State , I said that is not the end of the matter. He must still account for all his misdeeds whilst in office. In shielding him from prosecution, Goodluck Jonathan has shown us that he is a breath of fresh air, indeed! Yet, we are told that we must accept him and we must tolerate him because he is one of our own.
 
Four, let us not forget also that Goodluck Jonathan cannot claim to be a fresh of breath air because the election that produced him as Vice President (which placed him in the pole position he was to become President at the death of President Yar’Adua) is still adjudged till tomorrow to be one of the worst elections the world has ever seen. Therefore, Goodluck Jonathan cannot claim to find himself where he is today without mentioning one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the masses of this country. Yet when he became President finally through that fraudulent process, we were told we had to accept and tolerate him because he is one of us.
 
Five, one of the greatest conspiracies of silence we have witnessed of recent and one of the greatest lie we have been told is that the 2011 election that has produced Goodluck Jonathan as President was totally free, fair and credible. Whilst it is true that there was a slight improvement to that election conducted by Prof. Maurice Iwu in 2007, if you look strictly at the statistics, you will discover that fundamentally the little improvement was not commensurate with the N87billion we spent trying to restart the electoral process and is not worth the innocent lives that were needlessly lost in the post election violence. Let us look at some of the statistics:
 
In the 2003 Presidential election, the registered voters were 60,823,022. The purported voters’ turnout was 42,018,735 which represented 69.1% of the total voters. Meanwhile, PDP scored 24,456,140 which is 61.94% of the total votes cast. However, the 2003 election was adjudged to be heavily flawed and was condemned by both local and international observers.
 
In the 2007 Presidential election, the number of registered voters were 61,567,036 whilst the purported voters’ turnout was 58%. PDP scored 24,638,063 which was 69.60% of the total votes cast. That was the election we said was the worst in the history of Nigeria .
 
Now, in the 2011 Presidential election, the total number of registered voters was 73,528,040 and the purported voters’ turnout was nearly 54% which is just 4% less than that of 2007. And Goodluck Jonathan of PDP this time scored (or was allocated) 22,495,187 which is just less than two million of the votes Yar’Adua was given in 2007.
 
It is also laughable to come to terms with the percentage of votes the PDP secured in the South-South and the South-Eastern States . These are the figures:
 
1.     In Anambra State, PDP scored 1,145,169 which is 98.96% of the total votes cast.
2.     In Enugu State, PDP scored 802,144 which is 98.54% of the total votes cast.
3.     In Akwa Ibom State, PDP scored 1,165,629 which is 94.58% of the total votes cast.
4.     In Imo State, PDP scored 1,381,357 which is 97.98% of the total votes cast.
5.     In Ebonyi State, PDP scored 480,592 which is 95.57% of the total votes cast.
6.     In Bayelsa State, PDP scored 504,811 which is 99.63% of the total votes cast.
7.     In Abia State, PDP scored 1,175,984 which is 98.96% of the total votes cast.
8.     In Delta State, PDP scored 1,378,851 which is 98.59% of the total votes cast.
9.     In Rivers State, PDP scored 1,817,762 which is 98.04% of the total votes cast.
 
In 2007, this was the same trend of unjustifiable figures that did not match normal voting patterns that discredited the election. What, then, is the fundamental difference between both elections? Yet we are told one was the worst and the other the freest and fairest. This is nothing but a joke.
 
Unfortunately, the international observers in their various reports avoided commenting elaborately on the collation process which was where the fraud actually took place. Paradoxically, almost all the reports of the international observers consistently mentioned the issue of underage voting, especially in the North. Yet they painted their report with beautiful, flowery language and declared it free, fair and credible. Here are some of those reports:
 
The National Democratic Institute, in its report of April 18, 2011, made the following report:
 
“The delegates noted the complicated and multi-tiered collation process that is vulnerable both to human error and malfeasance as tabulation proceeds from the polling unit to INEC headquarters. Despite efforts in this election to fast-track election returns, this process created added work for INEC officials and observers”.
 
Yet, after this observation, the NDI said the election was free, fair and credible. Pray, what can be credible about a result that was not properly collated and cannot be a true reflection of what was actually cast at the polling units?
 
The International Republican Institute had this to say:
 
“Among the issues to be covered in those  will be: 1) revising recommendations of the Electoral Reform Committee which were not adopted by the National Assembly; 2) improving the voter list to ensure people are properly registered; 3) strengthening civic education so all Nigerians fully understand the nature of the election process and their role; 4) ensuring that the political parties evolve into constructive actors in the process, respecting democratic values in their internal behaviour and commitment to transparent election; 5) addressing the problem of underage voting; and 6) ensuring polling stations have a manageable number of registered voters”.
 
Again, if under-aged persons voted massively, how come they concluded that the election was free, fair and credible?
 
The African Union in its own report said as follows:
 
“Voting by under-age was one of persistent problems observed in the recently held elections. To address this, the Mission suggests that INEC, in conjunction with other relevant authorities, should put in place measures for proper screening and registration of prospective voters, in strict compliance with constitutional and legal requirements”.
 
Once again, the African Union also concluded that the election was free, fair and credible.
 
The Commonwealth Observer Group in its statement signed by its Chairman, his Excellency, Festus Mogae had this to say:
 
“There remain shortcomings with the voter registration, based on the number of people with voter cards but missing from the voter register. This needs to be urgently addressed.
 
There’s need to be stricter safeguards against underage voting, a phenomenon witnessed in parts of the country.”
 
Once again, it concluded that the election was free, fair and credible.
 
The European Union Election Observation Mission was the most honest in its report. It first complained about those unjustifiable figures from South-South and South-East when it wrote the following:
 
“Nevertheless, during voting, inconsistent implementation of procedures and attempts to influence voters were noted. Moreover, the INEC results coming from the States in South-South and South-East show percentages close to 100 percent…”
 
“While the shift from accreditation to voting was smooth and carried out in a timely manner, shortcomings were noted during voting. In 17 percent of the sampled polling units, attempts to influence voters were observed; in 26 percent there were instances of interference by party agents in the process and in 47 percent the secrecy of vote was not respected. General lack of organisation was noticed in 19 percent. These figures indicate deterioration since the National Assembly elections. The share of underage voting remained constant in both elections at 12 percent, while in a few cases serious malpractices, such as double voting and ballot snatching were observed.
 
The observed polling units closed on average around 16:00 hours, leaving time for the counting to be conducted during daylight. In a sixth of the observed polling units, the unused ballots were not properly accounted for and their number was not recorded. The copies of the results were in general distributed to all party agents and the official results were posted outside the polling unit in 87 percent of the cases, which is a remarkable improvement over the National Assembly elections (when the procedure had been followed in only 54 percent). Nevertheless, the results forms were packed in tamper-proof envelopes only in two-thirds of the observed polling units. In spite of some procedural deficiencies, counting was overall evaluated positively in 91 percent.
 
Arithmetic errors were noted in 70 percent of the visited ward collation centres and in 87 percent of the observed LGA collation centres. This demonstrated insufficient training of the Collation Officers. The results were posted outside the ward collation centres only in 49 percent, which is still a tangible improvement compared to the 9 April elections. However, at the LGA level results were posted outside only in 35 percent of the cases. This had a clear negative impact on the transparency of the election process. It is commendable that the final stage of the collation of the Presidential results and its announcement was broadcast live on NTA and AIT”.
 
Funny enough, unlike other observers, the European Union refrained from specifically concluding that the election was free, fair and credible.
 
From all we have seen above, it is obvious that the malpractices were not the exclusive preserve of the ruling party. Because of massive underage voting and some malpractices, many of the figures in the northern states credited to the CPC were indefensible and unjustifiable, just like many of the figures in the South-South and South-East region of the country credited to the PDP.
 
So, the scenario was that whilst manipulation was going on in the far North through underage voting, manipulation was also going on in the far South through manipulation of figures. The result only shows that the far South out-rigged the far North. That is why General Buhari and his CPC have absolutely no moral leverage to lead a campaign of civil disobedience and bloodshed in the North because they also did not come to equity with clean hands. It is also obvious that General Buhari, cannot, in his true conscience, claim to have won the Presidential election, because if he was so confident, he would not have embarked on those last minute efforts he made to  form an alliance with the ACN and some other parties.
 
On the other hand, it is quite obvious that Jonathan got more popular and evenly-spread votes than Buhari because of the structures of the PDP in all parts of the country, but whether he won with the margin that was credited to him and whether he won outright on a first ballot is highly debatable. But we must accept Jonathan because we have no choice in our continuous search for an acceptable democratic system. The only thing we must resist and my conscience cannot accept is to call black “white” and to call white “black” all because we want to support our brother at all cost.
 
The sad thing about our situation is that those who are supposed to speak up and tell the President these home truths so that he can make adjustments and we can all make progress, are busy chasing him and his wife all over the country for appointments in the new government. Even the President had to run away from Aso Rock to Obudu Ranch recently, yet, the lobbyists chased him all the way to the mountains of Obudu.
 
So, one of the expectations of Nigerians concerning Goodluck Jonathan is that he will shun these sickening sycophants, political jobbers, shameless praise singers and bootlickers in picking a team that would work with him for the next four years.
 
Sadly, I have not heard Goodluck Jonathan say he would strive to continue to improve on the electoral system since the last election. In other words, it would appear that the President is content with the process that produced his recent victory at the polls and that is the standard he would want to continue. That is most unfortunate. Like his late boss and predecessor, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, he must admit that there were fundamental flaws in the process that produced him and he must seek to partner with everyone to continue to improve the process.
 
Nigerians also expect that in the next four years Goodluck Jonathan would stop sending troops to kill innocent persons in Ijaw villages or any other village for that matter. Instead of massive troops deployment to the villages, we want to see massive deployment of construction equipments to the villages. He should not do this just because he is from the South-South region. He should do this as a matter of equity and justice because even previous President before him agreed that there was need to pay special attention to the Niger-Delta region, even though they paid only lip-service to this commitment.
 
The pattern of votes that were actually counted during the last election and the riot that greeted the victory of Jonathan in the far North reveal that this country is still a highly-fractured country and there is urgent need for him to extend a hand of love and fellowship to those areas where people were killed and maimed because of his victory at the polls. But he must bring the actual culprits to book. He must not deny the North of the massive development it urgently needs because of the post election violence and he must not deny tested and capable hands in the far North of key appointments into his government because of those incidents.
 
What Nigeria needs urgently is a total recreation and rebirth. Nigeria urgently needs one particular infrastructure that is inevitable when you are creating a new environment. In the book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 1-3, we read:
“(1) In the beginning, God created the heaven and the     earth
(2) And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
(3) And God said: Let there be light; and there was light”
 
 Like in the beginning, Nigeria is now without form and void and darkness is upon the face of the Nation. There is no power supply.
 
And so just like in the Bible since Nigerians expect a new Nigeria under Goodluck Jonathan, they expect Goodluck Jonathan to make the pronouncement, followed by action, “Let there be light”, and then, we should have light!
 
Thank you and God bless you.
 
 
FESTUS KEYAMO, ESQ.

 

http://www.saharareporters.com/report/goodluck-jonathan-and-expectations-nigerians-festus-keyamo

 

In Retrospect: 2011 April polls and Gender Ranking in Nigeria

Following the impeachment of her boss Governor Peter obi, on November 2, 2006, Dame Virgy Etiaba became the first female governor in Nigeria. Etiaba, who rose from the position of a deputy governor to acting governor, only functioned as Anambra state’s governor for six months. Since then she had been the only female in the country to have risen to such political height. Although, Nigeria had had several female candidates aspiring to hold several political offices but, the marginalization in all the country’s democratization processes still hold women’s political candidacy and victory into political offices to much ransom. This tends to validate widespread concerns, in spite of a national gender policy that was formulated to promote a 35 percent affirmative action for women in political space (a policy that demands 35 percent involvement of women in all governance processes), that women are grossly under-represented in the legislative and executive arms of government across the country; they are being short-changed in the political activities in the country. This inflates much believe that women are not ripe enough to hold political offices. Meanwhile, women activists and groups in Nigeria had been, since 1995, advocating for increase in the number of women in the political space, but very little has been achieved in this regard.

 

In 1999, when political activities kicked off with democracy in  Nigeria, after fifteen years of military rule, the percentage of women participation in politics was about 2%. While 2003 and 2007 the percentage was about 4% and 7% respectively. As at 2011, the total percentage of women in political offices in the country was measured at about 8%. This could really explain the gender gap in politics, more so, describe that there is a long way to go in addressing the issue of gender balancing.

 

In a recent discourse on gender ranking of political candidates and other issues on women’s political participation, addressed by the director of Women Advocates Research And Documentation Center (WARDC), Abiola Akiyode –Afolabi, stated that the low representation of women has been ascribed to the array of barriers that the women in Nigeria face in their quest for full participation in various aspects of social life. Some of the challenges are associated with entrenched cultural attitudes, which she said are hindrances to women participation in public life as well as politics.  But Nigeria has ratified the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa.  In 2007, Nigeria signed the National Gender Policy to support gender mainstreaming in policies and governance but the gap in politics still remains.

 

In this regards, Afolabi affirmed that: “Democracy is about fair representation of all interest groups in the society and the low representation of women is a violation of the principle of democracy. Poor representation denies women mass participation in governance, which is another hallmark of democracy. The participation of women in the electoral process is important to any democracy.”

 

Gender ranking of political parties’ candidates lists

Out of over ten thousand candidates of all the political parties that contested for political offices in the on-going general election, figure has proved that only 909 are female. It was confirmed that women candidates constitute 9.1% of the total number of candidates contesting the April 2011 polls, leaving 90.9% as male candidates across political parties. This analysis shows the figure of women contesting for the President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Governor, National Assembly and State Houses. The implication of this is that very few women passed through the primaries to make the candidates’ list, thus reinforcing the demand that the conditions for party primaries should be investigated to support the need for a more level playing field.

 

Analyzing this based on the six geopolitical zones, with emphasis on the South-West which has the highest number of female candidates in the April election with 15.5% of the 2116 persons contesting from the zone across political parties, the analysis here exempts the President and the Vice President positions. On the ranking table, the South-East was next with 11.9% of the 1611, South-South with 10.5% of 1624 and North Central with 8.5, of 1371. However, the North East and the North West have the least gender representation with 4.2% of 1187 and just 2.3% of 2088 respectively. To comprehensively break this down at state level, the FCT has the highest number of female candidates leading with 24%, followed by Ekiti state (20.9%), Osun state (20.5%), Lagos state (17.8%), Kogi (17.0%) and Ebonyi state (16.0%). States like Bauchi (1.1%) and Yobe (0.8%) have very low representation with the least being Jigawa with no single female representation. This was based on the research conducted by WARDC.

 

Female participant based on political parties

Based on most political parties provision in their and constitutions and manifestos to promote gender affirmative action, very few have been able to meet the 35% affirmative action provisions as reflected in the National Gender Policy adopted in 2007 by the Federal Government of Nigeria. In regard to this the Director of WARDC noted that In terms of Political Parties with more than 500 candidates, APGA had  640 candidates has the highest with 12.2%. “Labour comes next with 91 women representatives out of 775 representing 11.7%. For the ANPP with 1293 candidates, there are 77 women making 6% of the total candidates. PDP with 1510 candidates has 84 women making 5.6% followed by CPC with 1167 candidates and 64 women making 5.5% and the CAN with 67 women out of 1347 with 5% representation. It is important to note that Parties with less number of candidates are more likely to have relatively larger proportion of those candidates as females. For instance, DPA has just 2 candidates and 1 of them (50%) is a female; NSDP has 82 candidates and 33 (40.2%) are females; FRESH has 8 and 3 (37.5%) are females; BNPP has 12 and 4 (33.3%) are females and CPP has 70 out of which 22 (31.4%) are females,” she said.

 

Contesting for the office of Deputy Governor, there were 58 female of the 909 female candidates with SDMP presenting 5 (8.6%) and APGA presenting 4 (6.9%). Other parties present less than these two. The two parties with the highest number of female governorship candidates were ADC and APN as each presents 2 female governorship candidates out of the total 13 female candidates. Out of the 220 female house of representative candidates, ANPP presented 25 (11.4%), PDP presented 21 (9.5%) while ACN presented 19 (8.6%). Only one female presidential candidate was on the 2011 election and she was from the UNPD political party. Only 3 parties had female vice president candidates, they were ARP, BNPP and FRESH party.

 

The challenges of women participation in politics

“Several factors exist in Political Parties in Nigeria which limit the aspirations of women and impede their access to leadership positions. These factors include: godfatherism, male dominated party executives, labeling, violence, money politics as well as other social and cultural factors,” Afolabi said. Earlier before the NASS election, Afolabi, while speaking on an issue revolving around the manipulation of the name of one Mrs Fadekemi of Congress for Progressive Change CPC, who claimed to have won the primary election of the party, on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) list of NASS candidates, said that the believe that women are to be seen and not to be heard is one among several challenges that hamper women from political participation. She said that while women represent a formidable force in politics in Nigeria, their enthusiasm and skills have not translated into supporting gender mainstreaming within parties.  “Thus there is a need for a more integrated strategy to influence the party to support gender democracy,” Afolabi said.

 

The Director, in her advocacy stated that there is a need for a more concerted effort to support women in political parties and such support must include a coordinated socio network which must include important stakeholders like the civil society, media and other key stakeholders in the parties to achieve gender parity. She recommended that government should Instituting Gender-based electoral quotas that will bring more women into politics and may take various forms, Orientation of Political parties to make them involve more women, Mobilizing women’s movements to pressure political parties to nominate more women to winnable seats, Growing collaboration with women’s group globally/influence of a Global Women’s Movement and Maintain Collaboration with civil society groups.

 

Also speaking on the issue of gender balancing and women participation in politics, the South-West coordinator of Women Political empowerment Project, Bisi Olateru-Olagbegi said that if women are not in elective position that means that this country is not implementing all the commitment and covenant to gender justice. She said that that is why is very important that women also have equal participation in politics, regardless of gender barrier.

 

Olagbegi said that in the recent elections that the country has held, women have actually showed their aspiration. She said, “Women have not only showed their aspiration, we have had quality women coming out to participate in politics this time around. But fortunately, because of the lack of internal democracy and other factor such as money, violence and many more, the women were short-changed.” However, she urged that in order to achieve the millennium development goal women should also be given full support as the men in political participation.

 

TABLE 1: GENDER BY OFFICE


 

GENDER

Total

Office

Female

Male

Dep. Gov. 

Governor

House-Of-Reps

President

Senatorial

State-Ass

Vice President

Total

58    [16.7] 

13    [3.7]

220  [9.1]

1      [5.0]

90    [10.1]

524  [8.7]

3      [15.0]

909  [9.1]

289     [83.3] 

340     [96.3]

2188   [90.9]

19       [95.0]

800     [89.9]

5475   [91.3]

17       [85.0]

9128   [90.9]

347     [100.0] 

353     [100.0]

2408   [100.0]

20       [100.0]

890     [100.0]

5999   [100.0]

20       [100.0]

10037 [100.0]

 

 

1. TABLE 2: GENDER BY ZONES


 

GENDER

Total

Zone

Female

Male

N/C 

N/E

N/W

S/E

S/S

S/W

Total

116  [8.5] 

50    [4.2]

49    [2.3]

191  [11.9]

170  [10.5]

329  [15.5]

905  [9.1]

1255  [91.5] 

1137  [95.8]

2039  [97.7]

1420  [88.1]

1454  [89.5]

1787  [84.5]

9092  [90.9]

1371   [100.0] 

1187   [100.0]

2088   [100.0]

1611   [100.0]

1624   [100.0]

2116   [100.0]

9997   [100.0]

Note: percent within office in brackets

Source: WARDC’s computations; underlying data from INEC database

1. TABLE 3: GENDER BY STATE


 

GENDER

 

Total

State

Female

Male

ABIA 

ADAMAWA

AKWA IBOM

ANAMBRA

BAUCHI

BAYELSA

BENUE

BORNO

CROSS RIVER

DELTA

EBONYI

EDO

EKITI

ENUGU

FCT

GOMBE

IMO

JIGAWA

KADUNA

KANO

KATSINA

KEBBI

KOGI

KWARA

LAGOS

NASARAWA

NIGER

OGUN

ONDO

OSUN

OYO

PLATEAU

RIVERS

SOKOTO

TARABA

YOBE

ZAMFARA

TOTAL

26       (8.7) 

22       (9.0)

33       (12.7)

46       (11.3)

3         (1.1)

14       (5.7)

13       (5.6)

8         (3.8)

17       (9.8)

46       (11.0)

34       (16.0)

11       (7.7)

53       (20.9)

42       (12.9)

12       (24.0)

10       (6.6)

43       (11.7)

0         (0.0)

14       (4.6)

11       (2.5)

10       (3.6)

4         (1.9)

16       (17.0)

25       (9.5)

115     (17.8)

5         (3.2)

9         (4.6)

40       (11.5)

19       (8.8)

50       (20.5)

52       (12.7)

6         (2.9)

49       (12.8)

7         (1.8)

6         (3.3)

1         (0.8)

3         (1.2)

905     (9.1)

273      (91.3) 

222      (91.0)

227      (87.3)

362      (88.7)

261      (98.9)

232      (94.3)

221      (94.4)

205      (96.2)

157      (90.2)

371      (89.0)

178      (84.0)

132      (92.3)

200      (79.1)

284      (87.1)

38        (76.0)

141      (93.4)

323      (88.3)

210      (100.0)

290      (95.4)

430      (97.5)

265      (96.4)

207      (98.1)

224      (83.0)

237      (90.5)

531      (82.2)

149      (96.8)

188      (95.4)

308      (88.5)

198      (91.2)

194      (79.5)

356      (87.3)

198      (97.1)

335      (87.2)

386      (98.2)

178      (96.7)

130      (99.2)

251      (98.8)

9092    (90.9)

299      (100.0) 

244      (100.0)

260      (100.0)

408      (100.0)

264      (100.0)

246      (100.0)

234      (100.0)

213      (100.0)

174      (100.0)

417      (100.0)

212      (100.0)

413      (100.0)

253      (100.0)

326      (100.0)

50        (100.0)

151      (100.0)

366      (100.0)

210      (100.0)

304      (100.0)

441      (100.0)

275      (100.0)

211      (100.0)

270      (100.0)

262      (100.0)

646      (100.0)

154      (100.0)

197      (100.0)

348      (100.0)

217      (100.0)

244      (100.0)

408      (100.0)

204      (100.0)

384      (100.0)

393      (100.0)

184      (100.0)

131      (100.0)

254      (100.0)

9997    (100.0)

Note: percent within office in brackets

Source: WARDC’s  computations; underlying data from INEC database

 

http://www.cp-africa.com/2011/05/17/in-retrospect-2011-april-polls-and-gender-ranking-in-nigeria/#/news/

 

N/Assembly spends N318.2bn to pass 12 bills in 3 years

Nigeria’s federal lawmakers spent N318.2 billion to make 12 laws in three years – 2007 to 2010, amid rising unemployment, dwindling credit and spiraling inflation.

Some members of the National Assembly contacted to explain the amount, described as outrageous by some analysts, declined to comment.

The 12 Acts bring to 134, the number of laws enacted between 1999 – when the country returned to democracy – and 2011; a period of 12 years.

A breakdown of the figure shows that the two chambers got a total of N48.76 billion in 2007; N52.8 billion in 2008; N78.9 billion in 2009 and N127.7 billion in 2010.

This amount is expected to increase when President Goodluck Jonathan gives assent to the 2011 budget and the allocation for the National Assembly is released.

Peter Esele, President General of Trade Union Congress (TUC), told BUSINESSDAY that the performance of the present crop of lawmakers was disappointing.

“If you look at the huge sums spent on their salaries and allowances, you will see that we have got no value for our money. Now they are talking about another N10 billion scandal involving the Speaker of the House of Representatives, which tells you it’s been really disappointing.”

Musa Anwal Rafsanjani, executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CSLAC), also castigated the Nigerian parliament for not being focused. According to him, the huge money the legislators allocated to themselves has not translated into any meaningful impact on the lives of Nigerians. “There is no doubt that the Nigerian National Assembly is one of the most expensive and extravagant in the world,” Rafsanjani said.

The CSLAC executive director observed that the quality of a parliament is determined by the laws enacted, oversight functions and others, designed to make the country progress.

“The lawmakers lack these qualities and this explains why many of them lost their re-election bid.

“Our legislators are concerned too much about money, and this has led to the several crises and scandals in the House of Representatives, especially. This is affecting the progress of the country because there is no continuity in their work. If they had performed, many would not have lost re-election and they would have continued where they stopped. Now, fresh people will begin the process of law making. Let’s see which way the incoming lawmakers will go,” he said.

BusinessDay’s analysis of the information accessed from the Senate’s website shows that the two chambers enacted two laws in 2008 – the 2008 appropriation Act and the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office holders’ salaries and allowances etc amendment Act.

The National Assembly also enacted two Acts in 2009. They are: the Federal Capital Territory Appropriation Act and the NEPZ, Tinapa Free zone and Resort Regulations Act.

The federal lawmakers improved on their effort in 2010 and got seven Bills enacted into law. They are: The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (first alteration) Act; the Electoral Act; the Appropriation Act and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Act.

Others are: the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Act (second alteration); the National Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Act (third alteration).

As of today, however, only the National Minimum Wage Act has been enacted in 2011.

With two weeks to the end of this administration, the Sovereign Wealth Investment Fund Bill passed last week by the Senate may not have got the president’s assent if the Finance ministry had been relenting. This is because the House of Representatives is yet to pass its version; neither has the harmonisation of the bill taken place.

The primary assignment of the National Assembly is to make laws to guide the country. The enactment of 12 Acts in four years, however, speaks volumes about the seriousness of the lawmakers.

Notable analysts who spoke with BusinessDay on what they call “this disturbing issue” particularly frowned at the role Senator Abba Ajji, the senior special adviser to the President on National Assembly is playing in this regard. They readily noted that as the intermediary between the executive and the legislature, part of his functions was to ensure that the president assent to bills passed by the National Assembly.

Public outcry has trailed the huge budgetary allocations to the federal lawmakers who Nigerians see as a liability following their perceived inaction.

The low-performance of the lawmakers, despite the huge disbursement to them from the national treasury, has played a role in the outcome of the recent general elections during which many of them lost re-election.

Some of the major Bills passed and awaiting the President’s assent are: The Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission Bill, 2009; the National Hospital (amendment) Bill, 2009; the National War College (amendment) Bill, 2009; the Discrimination against persons with disabilities (prohibition) Bill, 2008, and the State of the Nation address Bill, 2009.

Others are: the National Space Research and Development Agency Bill, 2008; the NDDC budget Bill, 2008; the 2010 Appropriation Bill; the 2010 Supplementary Appropriation Bill; the FCT Appropriation Bill, 2010; the Workmen Compensation Bill and the Nigeria Hydrological services Agency (establishment) Bill.

Also awaiting the President’s assent are: the National Centre for Elderly Persons (Establishment) Bill; the National Climate Change Commission Bill; the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration Bill; the Gas flaring (prohibition & punishment) Bill; the National Health (amendment) Bill; the Personal Income Tax Bill and the Tobacco Smoking Bill, among others.

 

http://businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/news/76-hot-topic/21549-nassembly-spends-n3182bn-to-pass-12-bills-in-3-years

CPC alleges plot by government to detain its leaders

The national leadership of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) yesterday alleged that there was a plot by the federal government to arrest and detain some of its leaders.

The plan, according to the party in a statement in Abuja, was aimed at scuttling the use of forensic evidence to buttress its petition on the alleged massive manipulation of the April 16 presidential election.

The statement was signed by the spokesman of the CPC, Rotimi Fashakin. The party had on Sunday, May 8, filed a petition at the Court of Appeal challenging the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag bearer in the election, President Goodluck Jonathan. Claiming that its candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, was rigged out of the election, the CPC is demanding the cancellation of the results of the election in 24 states.

"The CPC wishes to bring to the attention of Nigerians and the international community a devious plan by the PDP-led Federal Government to arrest and clamp in indefinite detention notable leaders of our great party," the statement said.

"The ostensible reason would be to forestall a planned disruption of the inauguration ceremony on May 29, 2011 on the pretext of a spurious security report. But the real reason for the arrest is to scuttle the planned use of forensic evidence to buttress our petition on the massive manipulation of the April 16, 2011 presidential election."

The opposition party said that as a prelude to the move to arrest and detain its leaders, a report had been leaked to a section of the media close to the PDP administration to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public.

It also said that it was aware of alleged sums of money given some of its former members, who reportedly made an infamous statement denouncing the party’s national leadership on its course of action to file a petition against the conduct of the presidential poll.

The CPC appealed to its members and admirers across the federation to remain calm in the midst of its present tribulation.

"Meanwhile, we are not unaware of the cash handouts to the band of renegades (formerly of CPC) that made the infamous press statement, denouncing the decision of the party’s national leadership to file its petition against the conduct and results of the presidential election.

"We hereby use this medium to appeal to our loyal party faithfuls and admirers across the nation’s geopolitical divides as well as abroad, to remain calm in the midst of the ceaseless tribulation from the ruling PDP. Our petition at the elections tribunal shall be pursued with resoluteness and undiminished fervency."

Repeated calls to the presidential spokesperson, Ima Niboro, went unanswered. Meanwhile, when contacted by phone yesterday, the deputy police public relations officer, Yemi Ajayi, answered: "I am not aware and there is no such plan."

Nigerian Opposition Challenges Election Results





Nigeria’s main opposition party is asking a court to throw out some results from last month’s presidential election, and for new polls to be held in some areas.


The Congress for Progressive Change, led by defeated candidate Muhammadu Buhari, said the voting process was flawed by irregularities in parts of both the north and the south. The party’s chairman, Tony Momoh, said Sunday there should be new elections held in those areas.


International and local observers have said the April 16 election was Nigeria’s most credible vote in decades.President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from southern Nigeria, defeated his northern Muslim rival, Mr. Buhari, who is a former military ruler.
Riots broke out after the vote, and a Nigerian rights group says at least 500 people were killed in Muslim-Christian fighting.

Nigeria’s population of 140 million is split roughly evenly between Muslims and Christians.  The country has suffered periodic bouts of Muslim-Christian violence, much of it taking place in the central city of Jos.

 

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Nigerian-Opposition-Challenges-Election-Results-121502204.html

Nigerian ‘revenge killings’ leave 16 dead





At least 16 people have been killed in northern NIgeria in what appears to be more sectarian violence following April’s presidential election.

The attack on the town of Tafawa Balewa, in Bauchi state, was in revenge for earlier killings in the area, according to residents. Houses were also reportedly set alight.

"Sixteen people have been confirmed killed by unidentified attackers," said Bauchi police commissioner John Aba Kasanga.

The attack comes after at least 500 people were killed last month in protests following the re-election of incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan. A Christian from the south, Goodluck defeated Muhammadu Buhari, a former army ruler who is popular in the Muslim north.

Bauchi neighbours Plateau state in Nigeria’s "middle belt", where the Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south, leading to tension over the control of fertile farmlands and economic and political power.

There have been frequent clashes between Christian and Muslim groups in villages around Jos, the capital of Plateau. Earlier this year hundreds of people died in attacks there.

But the worst violence has taken place in the southern part of Kaduna state, which also borders Plateau. It shares the ethnic and religious diversity of the remaining middle belt.

Jonathan, who has widespread support in the south but also gained millions of northern votes, has promised an "all-inclusive" government to heal the rifts.

Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) party says it has evidence that electoral commission computers were rigged and that the vote count was manipulated in Jonathan’s favour. It has vowed to contest the outcome in court.

The party has asked a tribunal to compel the electoral commission to preserve all the ballot boxes and data capture machines used in the polls for forensic examination.

It wants access to the new biometric voter register so that it can cross-check thumbprints on ballot papers.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/07/nigerian-revenge-killings-16-dead

Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha Is Imo Governor-Elect





OWERRI, May 07, (THEWILL) – The candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha has been declared winner of the Imo State Governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

According to the Returning Officer for the election, Professor Hillary Ode Edeoga, Okorocha defeated incumbent Imo State Governor, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to clinch the governorship seat of the state. He polled 336,859 as against Ohakim’s 290,496, while Ifeanyi Ararume of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) polled 107,068.

With results declared from 26 out of the 27 Local Government Areas of the state, having successfully concluded the supplementary governorship election in three of four LGAs on Friday, May 06, 2011, Owelle Okorocha was declared winner having fulfilled all other constitutional requirements.

The commission cancelled election in Oguta Local Government Area following the discovery of electoral fraud allegedly orchestrated by one of the political parties with the support of INEC officials. Security agencies have since apprehended those involved.

Oguta LGA is the strongold of former Senator, Chief Arthur Nzeribe.

 

http://www.osundefender.org/?p=16243

2011 polls: My story, by Jega





The polls have come and gone, with all manner of controversy surrounding the process. Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, opened up candidly in an exclusive interview with Weekly Trust, choked with revelations. Herewith, are excerpts:

Weekly Trust: The 2011 elections have been quite eventful. A lot of things happened, which no one really expected. Looking back now, with the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done differently?

 

Prof. Attahiru Jega: We thank God that the 2011 elections have come and gone, we did our best under difficult circumstances to have free, fair and credible elections. We knew it would not be a perfect election but we gave it our best to ensure there was substantial remarkable improvement over previous elections and we are gratified that all observers both domestic and international have acknowledged that the elections of 2011 are a watershed and represents a substantial improvement over previous elections. True, the elections were not perfect, there were quite a number of areas where we would require substantive additional improvement. Frankly, I don’t think there is anything I would have done differently but I have learnt sufficient lessons from the 2011 election.

 

At least I know which area to pay greater attention to in order to bring about additional improvements. For example, the actual process in the polling unit was very transparent. It was impossible for anybody to abuse the process given its transparency, so the only way to commit fraudulent act is either to prevent the process from taking place or at the end of the process to see if they could change or alter the results before the collation. And unfortunately for anybody who tries to do that once the results have been declared and pasted at the polling unit, if anything changed in the process of collation, it would be discovered.

The point I am making is we have learnt a lot of lessons. In a chain there is always a weak link and perhaps the weakest link in the electoral cycle, given the benefit of hindsight, may be movement of results from the polling unit to the collation centre. Obviously that was predicated on proper security.

And then the security, also. Even though we know that this time around the police did their best under difficult circumstances, we also know that there were areas where there was inadequate security coverage. So you also find out that movement from the polling unit to the collation centres also lacked adequate security. So things could happen under such circumstances. But the challenge is for people to have evidence and to prove that something indeed went wrong. And if something went wrong, I believe that it can be proved and that is why the tribunals were there.

WT: Whose idea was it to use NYSC members in the electoral process?

Jega: When we came in as a new electoral commission, we discovered that there is a process to establish a relationship with the NYSC and we discovered that they have been used in the Anambra rerun elections in February of 2010. I was privileged to be a member of the NYSC governing council at one time and I have served as a corps member in my younger days and I know that the NYSC is a fantastic national service idea with many committed young men and women offer a lot of sacrifices for their country. So I have no hesitation whatsoever in trying to develop and strengthen that relationship which we found. Therefore, we were able to engage the directorate headquarters of the NYSC into further discussions and we signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with them. I think it was one of the best decisions we have taken. The NYSC have discharged their job very credibly. It is very unfortunate that after the elections, particularly the presidential elections, some people targeted them and attacked them and some of them even lost their lives. It was unfortunate, a condemnable act.

WT: Is the utilization of youth corps members in the future something you will encourage?

Jega: Definitely, I will encourage it. You see what has happened is that many people who discovered that the NYSC could not be bought or used to subvert the electoral process now wanted to ensure that they are removed from participation in the process. It was in my view a very high-level organized scheme by leading politicians who didn’t want the NYSC to continue to participate in the process. You will be amazed that as we are preparing for the rerun elections in Imo, for some funny reasons they have ensured that the NYSC are not going to participate. I don’t need to go into details, but it is very high-level scheming.

So, personally, I will do everything possible to encourage the use of NYSC corps members in the future and I would want to urge them not to feel discouraged and not to feel disenchanted with their experiences in the recent past, particularly after the presidential elections.

WT: In Bauchi and other places where you said were attempts to withdraw corps members to subvert the process, what did INEC do to counter the politicians?

Jega: What we did was we mobilized INEC staff from FCT and from the headquarters and we took into Bauchi and Kaduna over 500 additional complimentary staff just to make sure that wherever there were gaps we have filled them. Also in addition to NYSC members we trained students of tertiary institutions. So wherever the NYSC members were not sufficient we use students of tertiary institutions, like in Bauchi, particularly from ATBU, who have been trained so they can fill the gap wherever the NYSC corps members withdrew. It is just unfortunate that people were trying to take advantage of the traumatized NYSC members pretending they want to give them protection and providing them with aircraft when really what they wanted to do was to undermine the process.

WT: Before the election, INEC seems to have given many Nigerians the perception that the DDC machines that were introduced will really help to check fraud. But from what you have said, most of the fraud detection will just have to wait until after the elections. So is it that the machines never played a significant role during the voting process?

Jega: I don’t know how it happened, but there has been considerable misunderstanding among Nigerians about the purpose of the DDC machines. The key purpose of the machines is to first and foremost help us do a biometric capture of data and information for people who are eligible registrants in the electoral process. And we have done that. We’ve been able to record over 73 million Nigerians of 18 years and above. We’ve captured their fingerprints, their photographs, all their details. The database we are having now is probably one of the single largest one in the country. It is a tremendous national asset. Using the DDC machines have enabled us to do that. Secondly, the DDC machines and the data we were able to capture have also helped us to avoid the problem of having people making multiple registrations. We have done that and have eliminated double registrants from the register. So the register we have is much more credible because we have used advanced fingerprints-checking devices.

Having said that, the capacity is there for us in the future to take a DDC machine to a polling unit and say anyone who comes to vote should just place his fingerprints on a DDC machine and his photograph will appear. But this time around, we didn’t have the resources to do that and secondly we are mindful of the Electoral Act that states categorically that there will be no electronic voting. And we didn’t want to start using any kind of electronic verification during election so that somebody will not go to court and say that INEC is using a form of electronic voting.

I haven’t told anybody before or during the elections that we are going to use DDC machines for accreditation. But there were some representatives of some political parties who wanted us to do so. They were emphatic. But we told them categorically that we are not going to do that.

WT: On social networking sites, it is markedly clear you have a following of sorts among youth, some saying you should run for president. Is a political career something that is on the cards for you?

Jega: I am a political scientist, I am not a politician. And now I have a job to do as chairman of INEC, which is a tenured job of five years and I have done it for less than one year, so I still have some years to go. I think Nigerians have incredible capacity for wishful thinking. I appreciate those who think I have the capacity to do other things but for now I will rather concentrate on what I am doing.

WT: INEC has promised to prosecute multiple registrants. Nigerians are still waiting for that to happen…

Jega: It is regrettable that we did not prosecute as many of the multiple registrants as we will like to. But some have been successfully prosecuted and have been fined or jailed. But there were many. From the records which we issued a long time ago, we have detected over 870 thousand cases of multiple registrations. But it requires a lot of energy, a lot of resources and a lot of legal support to be able to successfully prosecute them. So we entered into an arrangement with the Nigerian Bar Association which has committed itself to giving us legal support to be able to prosecute them. But unfortunately, it took time for us to be able to finalise that arrangement. We will still prosecute them.

WT: One contentious issue in this latest election process is the incidences in Kano and Katsina States where the CPC were wrangling over the candidates to fly their gubernatorial flag. Somehow the whole matter also involved INEC, changing names of governorship candidates. Why was the situation clumsy?

Jega: This is the problem of the parties themselves. This question is better answered by them. All we did was to try to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act in terms of who is a candidate. And we tried to be very meticulous and very firm about the definition of a candidate given the Electoral Act. Now, obviously, some candidates or some parties went to court and contested our positions and the courts have been giving all sorts of judgment. But what we have done is wherever a court gave a judgment we will respect that judgment and wherever we feel very strongly about it we will appeal the judgment, otherwise we respect the court’s judgment. The problems you mentioned were self-inflicted by the political parties themselves.

WT: Coming back to the case of Bauchi and Kaduna, opposition parties advised INEC not to conduct elections in those states because of the chaos there. Also under the Electoral Act they cited a section where they said elections must not be conducted under chaos, but INEC went ahead and held elections in these places…

Jega: It is true that there is a section of the Electoral Act that says that elections can be postponed if there is a natural disaster, violent uprising and so on. But these are anticipatory cases. For example if we are preparing for elections, let’s say two days from now and suddenly there was a hurricane or flood or any natural disaster which prevents that from happening, then you can postpone the elections.

But this is an election long after a crisis has happened. So the issue is, is there sufficient time for things to normalize before you do an election? So in both Bauchi and Kaduna it was not postponement because of a disaster but postponement for things to settle down after a crisis. What we tried to do is to avoid what I have earlier said about the possibility of state of emergency.

If we had pushed the election of Bauchi and Kaduna beyond May 29th, then obviously we would have invited, from the legal advice we have, a declaration of state of emergency in those states. And we think that allowing that to happen will create more problems in those places. The challenge was, was there sufficient security to do the elections after the crisis? From the security report we got, we have to rely on security report from security agencies, things were normalizing. In fact, Kaduna where there was a greater crisis, things had normalized faster than they did in Bauchi.

WT: But there were so many people in the refugee camps who didn’t participate…

Jega:  But how long will it take to resettle people in the refugee camps? It will take six months to do so. Are we going to wait for that long? The problem is the Electoral Act, people vote only in polling units where they have registered. So if you are in a refugee camp there may be a polling unit there but the people who are there because of displacement did not register there. How can they vote there? It would be illegal for INEC to move a polling unit from somewhere and bring it to another place.

No matter how we will want to be compassionate, there are legal constraints that prevented us from doing certain things. There are people who have lost their voters’ card in the crisis. This is regrettable, but the provisions of the Electoral Act are also clear. You don’t give cards 30 days before an election.

WT: How will you review security during the polls?

Jega: In comparative terms, frankly, we have had greater security mobilization and involvement during this election than in any other previous election I know of. If I can remember correctly, around November last year we created what we call Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security both at the national and state level and at the local government level. All security agencies including paramilitary organizations were part of this interagency meeting. We met almost regularly, initially monthly but when we came closer to the elections almost on a two weeks interval. We were able to have greater coordination of all the security agencies involved in the elections.

Of course the more security you provide the more other innocent people become afraid. Participants will become worried about what such mass security presence can do and that can affect the participation of the people and the outcome of the process. We hope such things do not happen in future.

WT: Has INEC been able to quantify some of the losses and damages it has incurred in these elections?

Jega: If you mean quantifying in terms of actual cost we haven’t but we do have a record of our offices and vehicles that have been razed down or destroyed and our personnel who have been either injured or affected one way or the other. We have all that information. But then it is difficult to monetarily compensate people who have been injured or those who lost their lives, but we did our best to ensure that we have certain things in place just so we can minimize the suffering of those affected.

For example, we did a comprehensive insurance for all INEC staff as well as all our ad hoc staff, including the NYSC members. The insurance covers everything from injury to accident to death. Also, all our vehicles are insured. Certainly, we have incurred losses, some people have been traumatized for life given the experience they have gone through, either through intimidation, harassment or bodily injuries.

WT: Your colleagues in the academia served as returning officers, especially during the presidential elections. Was this an afterthought?

Jega: We decided as INEC that we will do anything possible to bring credibility to the process and to also insulate our staff from participating in roles that can be misunderstood. As you are aware in 2003 and 2007, Resident Electoral Commissioners were returning officers for governorship elections in the state and they were also the collation officers for the presidential elections. INEC officials at the state level, either electoral officers and so on were also the returning officers and collation officers at the lower level.

And that is why there were all these allegations of INEC officials collecting money to sell results or declare false results. As a new commission, we decided that we will insulate the staff of INEC from those activities and bring people whom we have carefully chosen, people who are persons of integrity who will do their best to ensure that the process is not undermined. That is how we brought people from the universities. I am very pleased to say that the people we have brought from the universities have in general satisfied our confidence and they have done well for our country.

WT: The Electoral Act has pegged a limit to what aspirants can spend during campaigns, whose responsibility is it to monitor that that provision was adhered to?

Jega: The Electoral Act gives INEC power to monitor the activities of political parties, to monitor their accounts and their campaign expenditure and so on. But to be honest with you when we came in as a new commission we do not have the capacity to effectively monitor campaign financing. Something that we have planned for the future is to set up effective machinery to be able to do that. It requires a lot.

You have to factor in the fact that we have so many candidates and a challenge is how to monitor how much each candidate has got as financial contribution and what they are spending. It is something that requires sophisticated technology as well as diligent field officers and investigators to be able to do that. INEC does not even have a desk that handles campaign financing. So what we have been doing is doing the easy bit by ensuring that the accounts of political parties are audited.

How will you respond to calls to scrap political parties that did not perform well in the recently concluded elections?

Jega: I believe very strongly in multi-party democracy. As a political scientist who has studied politics on a comparative basis, I don’t believe in the restriction of political parties. I believe that parties will phase out depending on their performance and how popular they are. If they are decoys, they are useless. What I wouldn’t want to see is to have an individual register a political party simply to collect money from government and that tendency may be there. Luckily, the electoral Act has been amended such that no money can be given to anybody.

 





http://www.weekly.dailytrust.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6025:2011-polls-my-story-by-jega&catid=40:cover-stories&Itemid=26

KASTINA ELECTIONS AS A BATTLEFRONT

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is holding on tightly to the reins of power in Katsina State as the incumbent governor, Ibrahim Shema, was returned with an overwhelming 1,027,912 votes, well ahead of his closest rival, Bello Masari, the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who polled 555,769 votes.   Also, at the conclusion of the house of assembly polls in the state, the PDP redeemed its battered image from the huge losses it had suffered at the national assembly and presidential elections by winning 30 of the legislative seats, leaving the remaining four slots to the CPC.

 

234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/News/Metro/Politics/5695785-146/story.csp

 

 

 

 

 

DEEPENING DEMOCRACY: Were the elections different?

In welcoming the New Year in January, I argued in this column that our national resolve for 2011 must be that the year would be the turning point when we move from our long history with electoral fraud to a brighter future based on credible elections. I recalled then that the phrase that I have repeated the most over the past two decades is that the majority of Nigerians are deeply committed to democracy, but the bulk of the political class is extremely competent in the techniques of subverting electoral and democratic processes. It is too early to make pronouncements on the character of the elections but some tendencies are clear and can be enumerated.

As we all know, the most important aspect of our elections was the transformation of the techniques of electoral fraud from the analogue to digital technology of rigging. Analogue rigging involves ballot box stuffing or stealing, under-age voting and multiple voting. It consists of techniques to illegally increase the votes cast for a party.

Digital rigging was invented by the National Party of Nigeria in the Ondo State 1983 elections. The party was determined to take the state but the gap against their candidate, Akin Omoboriowo, was so massive that manipulation of numbers could not work. The electoral body, then known as FEDECO, simply set aside the results and invented completely new figures that declared Omoboriowo the winner. The people’s anger was so high that the NPN candidate barely escaped with his life and the judiciary quickly stepped in to restore electoral justice. Olusegun Obasanjo and Maurice Ewu perfected the techniques of digital rigging during the 2003 and 2007 elections and completely confiscated the franchise of the Nigerian people.

One major trend of the 2011 elections has been the clear success of Attahiru Jega in creating conditions to start checkmating, but not yet eliminating, digital electoral fraud. The new electoral procedure and the call by INEC to party agents and observers to stay with the votes from the polling unit to the collation centres, made it possible to start countering digital fraud.

Unfortunately, the level of civic consciousness was not sufficiently high to ensure that Nigerian citizens everywhere were able to vote, count them at the polling units, escort them to ward and local government collation centres and protect their mandate. The south west has emerged the champion in both protecting their mandate and organising their politics in a manner that produces an outcome that the community has decided. The results speak for themselves. Be that as it may, it is bad for democracy because the individual Yoruba voter has disappeared and what we see is a community monolith.

The biggest story of the elections is the failure of the Hausa-Fulani political class to demonstrate political efficacy and create the outcome they desired. They were hopelessly divided and their extremely poor capacity for political organisation is demonstrated in the incredible under-performance of the CPC. Of course, the persistence of digital rigging did not favour them but their real failure resided in the inability to provide a coherent political message to guide voters.

This outcome is good for democracy because people voted on the basis of local factors – the credibility of candidates irrespective of parties they belonged to. This is bad for regional politics but good for democracy.

In a sense, the violence that followed the Presidential elections and massive deployment of security forces for the elections of April 26 and 28, created very difficult conditions for free and fair elections. It was clear that in many states, the security forces did not discharge their duties in a professional manner. Reports from states such as Kaduna, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Imo and Katsina clearly indicate political bias in operations. While the intention in their deployment was to reduce the levels of violence, including thuggery and ballot box snatching, it was also the case that their presence in such heavy numbers may have had the contrary effect of intimidating voters, hence the low turnout witnessed in most states in the country compared to the previous exercise.

The big lesson we learn is that their deployment and the declaration of curfew and/or restriction of movement imposed in certain states such as Kaduna, Bauchi, Imo, Katsina and Plateau made it easier for the digital riggers to operate with impunity. Indeed, numerous observers in locations such as Akwa Ibom, Benue, and Imo and Katsina States reported that the distribution of ballot papers was half or less than half of the number required based on registration figures.

A related problem was the absence of result sheets at many polling units, or, in some cases, duplicates of the real thing without the security markings. In all of these areas, INEC personnel, including NYSC members and security officials, allegedly colluded in the observed malpractices. Clearly, the political class is still determined to continue with digital rigging but the elections were different because the battle to protect the people’s mandate has begun.

 

http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Opinion/5695689-148/story.csp