Postponed Edo Polls; Vintage Voice of Jacob and the Hand of Esau by Nkannebe Raymond
Fellow Nigerians, it appears not too many of us seem to appreciate the degree of political fraud that was pulled off last week by the (mis)ruling party in Edo state? hence, the seeming cold acceptance that has greeted the “democratic coup” (in the words of Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose) by the general public without much of a whimper as would have been seen were it to be in saner climes where citizens hold the leadership accountable for any executive recklessness, especially in matters of the ballot. Or perhaps, the recession which we are told is just a “mere word” in Kemi Adeosun’s thought has bitten so hard so much that it has grown into a phrase and nobody seem to give anymore hoot about the numerous gaffe of the current band of progressives (or if you like, retrogressives) in Abuja, which were supposed to be a beacon of hope and the very symbol of exemplary leadership. Many , we suspect may have since resigned to their fate waiting only to be heard more poignantly at the ballot when the general elections come around again.
We shall in this engagement put in the proper perspectives the notoriety of that voice of Jacob, resident in Abuja, properly carried into action through the hands of the Esaus of this clime, aptly represented by the Gestapo police in furtherance of the spirit and letter of the script. We shall also bemoan the consequence(s) it behoves for our nascent and burgeoning democracy.
Perhaps no other gift would have come in good taste for the good and peace loving people of Edo state, than the gift of being allowed the latitude and space to freely exercise their franchise by electing a new resident for the government house in Edo state; side by side catching up on the Eid celebrations for a state with a considerable population of Muslim faithfuls. But that, as we later found out, was not to be. Some pundits and analysts we learnt, were of the view that the handwriting on the wall for the Oshiomole camp was not looking bright enough and so something had to give. What happened next was a combination of mendacity, fabrication and falsehood and before one could shut the windows, last minute steps were taken to shift the goal post meters further and to buy more time for Oshiomole’s anointed stooge, aka, Godwin Obaseki and also to throw more money at the system.
Of course they didn’t need to solve a hard algebra to come about that. All they needed was to come up with an ostensible reason and they found that with the unholy bride: Insecurity. Borrowing from the antics of their colonial masters-PDP( we have argued times without more in previous engagements, that there is nothing to choose faced with the dilemma of making a choice between PDP and APC. Both of them are one and the same; the only difference lying in mere nomenclature), at the last general elections, they played the ‘insecurity card’ and surreptitiously stormed the electorates who at the time were already in high spirits for the polls; Nigerians and members of the international community who were already either in Abuja or within the state to monitor the process, by postponing the elections for another two weeks.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, 7th of September, the police and the Department of State Security (DSS)——— who have since become handmaids of the current establishment shamelessly told Nigerians that, “credible intelligence indicates plans by insurgent/ extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and high population soft targets during the forthcoming sallah celebration between 12th and 13th of September, 2016….” And we ask, were the elections scheduled for these dates? Isn’t a gubernatorial election expected to be a day exercise save in inconclusive polls? But they were not finished. “Edo state”, the statement continued, “is amongst the states being earmarked for these planned attacks by the extremist elements…” among other mendacious representations signed by one DCP Don Awunah for the police and Garba Abdullahi, for DSS.
Let us recall that the Inconclusive National Electoral Commission (INEC), (we are told that is the moniker they have earned for themselves from consistent and palpable failures in the past), had refused to buy the alibi of insecurity when the rumour mills went to town to test the water, as according to Professor Mahmud Yakubu, the head of the commission, “ they were ready to go ahead with the exercise” only to be arm-twisted and ambushed by the Brigadier General Sule Kazaure camp, the Director General of NYSC, who apparently, was a partner to this ‘grand theft’ who told the commission that he could not guarantee the security of the corp members who constitute a bulk of INEC ad-hoc staff and without whose inputs, holding the elections becomes a sheer impossibility. With these successive developments, Mahmud and his commissioners ambidextrously handicapped, couldn’t do more but bow to the well organised coup-plotters and reviewed the exercise forward for the next two weeks; by rescheduling the polls for 28th of September, 2016 as provided by the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
But the good news about the whole shenanigan is that one need not be a political wizard to smell the rat here. It is very clear to even a blind man that the arranged postponement was the grand scheme of reactionary elements with vested interests operating from somewhere in the federal capital territory, not minding the consequences, material and financial for the nation and the psyche of the people of Edo state.
In the midst of the whole quagmire, one is moved to ask, whether the misfortune of insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria has become a double-edged sword such that it is now exploited and used as a fodder to perpetuate social and civic vice on the polity? That Insecurity, a common denominator that frustrates just about anything has been witnessed here in alarming proportions , does it give us the temerity to now capitalise on it to score some parochial gains even when such threat do not exist? From whence did the so-called “credible intelligence” emanate from and since when did our security outfits become the CIA in Intelligence gathering and arrest? Was not the crème de la crème of the present administration in Edo state, a day or two before this execrable act of postponement in last minute campaign razzmatazz for the APC candidate, Obaseki? Where was this Intel at the time? Or perhaps the imagined terrorists were more interested in “soft targets” and not their hard counterparts.
While there is a legal basis for the postponement of elections, as provided in section 26(1) of the Electoral Act, such an option is not and cannot be as a matter of course as such threats must be subject to “cogent” and “verifiable” reasons for postponement. Gentlemen, permit us to produce verbatim the provisions of the law on which the Police and DSS induced Mahmud and his co-travellers in Inconclusiveness to postpone the election. Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act provides thus:
“Where a date has been appointed for holding an election and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the election as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the commission may postpone the holding of the proposed election, provided such reason is COGENT and VERIFIABLE” (Emphasis Ours).
Now it is our suspicion that the “Credible Intelligence” of the police and DSS combined; was everything but cogent and verifiable in contrast to the spirit and letter of section 26(1). It was vague, baseless, cosmetic, unsubstantiated and without foundation. A case in point: it didn’t tell us the other states “earmarked” for the planned attacks by extremist elements or the source of the information. While the security operatives, we understand, reserve the right to be circumspect with some of these details as with protocol, we submit that the occasion wherewith it was invoked, demanded that at least it should be told, if anything to foot the bill of cogency and verification in the language of the draftsman of the law. Reading the statement, you could see and smell the conspiracy with which it is laden. You could see through the insincerity of purpose and intention. It was not just a sad day for Edo indigenes who had travelled home to participate in the exercise; it was a sad day for the law too, as it was used as an engine of fraud contrary to a cardinal maxim of equity to wit: Equity will not suffer the Law to be used as a cloak of fraud.
In any case, what was all that 25, 000 police men, 10,000 operatives of the DSS, 10, 000 members of the Civil Defence Corps, a DIG of Police and his assistants , among other security apparatchik billed to cordon the election for a state of a paltry 18 local government areas expected to be doing assuming there were no security threats? Since they cannot repel any attack during the election. Take selfies? See what the state looks like and drink palm wine or maybe buy garri and plantain for their wives; as the commodities appear to be cheaper in that part of the country. Or were they just mere mercenaries to help rig the process? Or is sending large troops into a state for an election just another form of electoral tradition? We have to begin to get serious in this country to say the least.
The elections might have been postponed, and the reactionary elements already one point ahead as far as the election goes. Bitter as the pill may come, many have already swallowed it. You won’t blame Edolites so much. For a people visited with an unprecedented hardship reminiscent of the Egyptians with the plague, as with many other Nigerians but for Bayo Onanuga and his famous “pot of soup”; one cannot ask much from them. In just about no time, two weeks would have rolled over and the ballot shall have its time. Maybe it would speak loud enough. May be not. But the circumstances leading to the postponement’ll not be defaced by time and will forever find a pride of place in the annals of history. The consequence is not only dire for our democracy; it is also a mockery of our democratic institutions and at the extremes, a travesty of justice.
Whichever way the pendulum of the election tilts, is not the immediate concern of this writer. That should be the trouble of the career politicians and proprietors of our national malaise. What remains to be said however, is that APC; hands in glove with the PDP have written into our political books a sad chapter which leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It is a system of politicking that compromises the security outfits and leave them at the mercy of their handlers; gory sight for any democracy. It is a do or die tactics to power and an undemocratic disposition that provokes wonder.
Let us conclude. An African aphorism goes; that those whom the gods want destroyed, they first make mad. We saw traces of this sort in the actions of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his PDP, few years ago, the circumstance of their calamitous fall needs no adumbration here. APC must therefore thread with caution or else court the anger of the gods sooner than they ever estimated. On no account shall the mockery of our sensibilities, be put on national display again. Onu’kwube!
AND TWO OTHER THINGS…
Kelechi Iheanacho’s Manchester Derby Heroics
Over the weekend, we made out time to watch the Manchester Derby between Manchester United and Manchester City, at the Old Trafford, aka, Theatre of Dreams. It was indeed a repackaged notorious encounter with the new entrants into annual pulsating footballing experience between the two neighbours. With all the verbal exchanges between the uncouth Jose Muorino and somewhat circumspect Pep Guardiola, the new coaches to the two sides going into the fixture, it was a Must Watch to understate it. But at the end of 90+5 minutes of an engaging encounter, it was our own Kelechi Ihenacho, who decided the day. With a brilliant assist to Kevin De Bruyne and a fast finish within the area all in the first half, he proved to be a worthy substitute for Kun Aguero; the man he came in for, no thanks to the latter’s ban. At the final whistle, Manchester United were only able to pull back one goal, and it was to Ihenacho that the city dwellers must turn to, for gratitude. Heroic!
Much Ado Over Who Change Begins With.
The other day, president Muhammadu Buhari flagged off a campaign code named: ChangeBeginsWithMe in Bauchi state in collaboration with the ministry of Information and Communication through its minster, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. It is a campaign that look very much like the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) during the military interregnum of President Muhammadu Buhari but this time, in a democratic garb. It is a campaign brought to bear to instil in the consciousness of Nigerians that Change does not start and end with the government, but instead a product of twin efforts of the leadership and the led. Since after the flag off, Nigerians have vehemently rejected the gesture which many have seen as a way of the Burahi government that promised Change, passing the buck to the masses who are already suffering from disaffection from a rudderless economic reality. The hair-splitting and unending debate over whom the burden of Change rests has continued even as we write. For our reaction to this burning issue, dear reader, please make recourse to our Facebook page as we have said much on that in one of our posts there. Ike gwuru!
We wish the entire Muslim Ummah a wonderful and Rahama filled Eid celebration.
Nkannebe Raymond is Lawyer, a social critic and public affairs commentator. He tweets @RayNkah.Comments and reactions to 08068271477 (Text Message Only)