Taraba and the PDP; A Timeline of Injustice By Abubakar Usman
The political history of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will never be complete without the mention of the party’s rigging machinery. The grassroots structure of PDP is one, built on the fulcrum of well-oiled rigging machinery. For many, it started sixteen years ago but for those who follow political history of this nation closely, it was a pattern structured by the founders of the party well before then. The last general elections reaffirmed the stand that PDP is incapable of succeeding as a political party in an environment where the electoral system is transparent, free and fair, especially if, such electoral system is dependent on technology which makes processes scientifically easy compared to manual processes. If one takes a little trip back into Nigeria’s political history, it will be clear that all along, the ideology of the PDP is winning by all means. They care less about the means, the end goal is what propels them and they can do everything even though wrong to achieve it.
Evidently, nothing explains PDP’s underlining principles as a political party more than constant internal party bickering, use of ethnic and religious narrative to divide voters; use of force by deploying military might; massive rigging; use of thugs to compel voters; bribery; etc. Overtime, the party succeeded through wielding power at the centre, to shape the cognition of many Nigerians to accept their brand of politics. The progressive retrograde of political morality in Nigeria political system, explains further the decline from sanity to insanity that has characterised this nation’s politics in the last sixteen years. It got to a time when killing political opponents was seen as a given and gradually it became an acceptable pattern, one which clearly shows a total disregard for human lives and a lack of respect for rule of law. Certainly, many will agree that the last sixteen years has been nothing but a dark moment in our political history and it makes it very difficult to look back and point to a single moment of gargantuan achievement.
The last governorship election in Taraba state was earlier this month, subjected to tribunal examination over allegation of electoral irregularities reported by the All Progressive Party (APC) candidate, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan. The result of that examination, is the election tribunal sacking governor Darius Ishaku and declaring Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan winner of the elections held in April this year. There is a pattern to this and that is the PDP’s love for winning elections through means they cannot justify in court.
In 1999, mysterious circumstances surrounded the emergence of Jolly Nyame as governor of Taraba under the flagship of PDP. The winner of the party primaries, Usman Bibinu was involved in a ghastly car accident just few days to the state election and Nyame who was brought in at the last minute by a certain powerful power broker in the state won the election. In the same vein, Jolly Nyame in 2007 imposed his crony Danladi Baido on his party men. Even though the young man did win the primary election, he was disqualified by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from contesting the election because of some corrupt cases in his name. The same scenario led to the emergence of Danbaba Suntai as the governor before the unfortunate jet crash that left him incapacitated.
Despite the clamour for change before the last election, the PDP could not resist the urge to rig elections once again. In Taraba, a Premium Times report found out that, soldiers were deployed to frighten and intimate voters. The report found out that, rather than make the electoral system safe, free and fair, the soldiers were used to rig in favour of the ruling People’s Democratic Party. In communities like Wukari and Takum, villagers complained of widespread rigging and falsification of election results. In southern Taraba for example, electoral officials complained of being forced by PDP hired thugs to do away with the card readers, thereby enabling their supporters to vote without going through the process of proper accreditation.
In addition, the same Premium Times report cited a community leader named Bello Kwararrafa as saying, there were instances where agents of rival political parties abducted, manhandled and forced soldiers acting on the orders of federal government to lie prostrate on the ground. Also, in many Local governments in Northern Taraba, like Karim Lamido, Lau and Ardo collation of results didn’t take place. Soldiers carrying guns were used as aides to collation officers to prevent people from demanding for the collation of their results. The Social Democratic Party candidate in the state, David Kente named Wukari, Takum and other places as the worst zones of electoral fraud. Consequently, the rife electoral fraud in many wards, polling units or local government, led to the cancellation of results and the extension of the election after it was declared inconclusive by the electoral empire.
Little wonder, the decision of the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal nullifying the election of Governor Darius Ishaku did not come as a surprise to many. With that decision, it is hoped that the rigging machinery of the PDP would have been destroyed so that the will of the people will henceforth prevail.
Abubakar Usman @MrAbusidiq