This Election Cannot Stand

Another friend sent me this —- This Election Cannot Stand

During one of his media briefings while the elections lasted, Prof. Maurice Iwu the INEC chairman embarrassed me with the combative reply he gave to one foreign observer who queried the absence of serial numbers on the presidential ballot papers. Among other things he told the lady who asked the question that his duty was only to Nigerians! I felt pity for the woman whose only offence was that she like others had come here to help us conduct credible elections. Iwu beat his chest, rejoicing at how we have broken the jinx€ of civilian-civilian transition, etc, not realizing how ridiculous it all looked in the face of such blatant irregularities.

Obasanjo, the chief midwife of the entire project has been doing likewise. It therefore seems that what matters is simply to transit: to what and how does not matter. The end justifies the means! Or does it? I do not agree, and like many Nigerians, I wish to add my voice to the cry that the just concluded elections were a sham of the highest magnitude and should not be allowed to stand! Perhaps to pre-empt the voices of reason who are calling attention to the monumental fraud, paid advertisements are beginning to spring up on the pages of the newspapers congratulating the president-elect and governors-elect. Some of the latter have already set up transition committees: all oblivious of the fact that they are trying to build on quick sand! Some are arguing that May 29 is sacrosanct: I say it is not!

They think that if we fail to adapt to the results of the elections no matter how fraudulent, and make the best of it, we would have lost a great chance to move forward. You can only move forward if you know where you are going. If we move forward on the basis of the current election results, we would only be heading for the precipice! Nigeria has come of age and as has been shown by the enthusiasm and zeal of all voters, the country deserves nothing less than democracy. Nigeria deserves elected and not selected leaders. This electoral sham must not be allowed to stand. I know that there are true patriots who would fear that it is at times like this that soldiers strike with a coup, which may at first sight seem popular.

I do not have any fear of this because the soldiers will be the first ones to recognize that the time for that in Nigeria is past. Nigerians (civilians and soldiers) are not only tired of military rule but it would indeed be a hard sell. Let us not for fear of the unknown fail to right a wrong. It is in the same way that some people with skeletons in their cupboards dread to consider an issue such as the so-called Sovereign National Conference for fear of what such an unknown behemoth might unveil. No evil goes away simply by wish it to. Problems are tackled and it would be fool hardy to wish they never were. If I will borrow the words of Iwu (who refused to admit he made mistakes), what we have before us now are challenges and not problems. We must resolve it the right way.

For the avoidance of any doubt, I do not subscribe to the fact that Yar’Adua has won the elections as president. He did not. He knows it, you know it, I know it, and PDP knows it. Who then is fooling who? If he is allowed to be sworn in come May 29, his government will be an illegitimate one and Nigerians would be morally bound not to recognize it, much less to obey it. It is at times like this that civil disobedience becomes a duty. The type of charade that has happened in Nigeria in the last few weeks in the name of elections will be inconceivable in other climes. I used to think that Nigerians are a resilient and dignified people who never stand for injustice but the silence and indifference that might be permeating our psyche at the present time is very troubling.

I am sad to note that in some states where elections did not hold, some have been declared winners as governors. What brazen impunity is theirs and how low they consider their own people that they present themselves as their governor when the people clearly did not elect them. In one such case, everyday sees his face adorning the pages of the newspapers with sponsored ads showing that smirk on his face that I cannot but interpret as laughter at our gullibility. If he is so convinced that he won why is he spending so much money congratulating himself? Are we going to let this stand? I did not know that the government of Olusegun Obasanjo was no much loved by Nigerians! I did not realize that in spite of the decay in social and economic infrastructure Nigerians were ready to again vote Obasanjo into power! I did not realize that most Nigerians were deceived to believe this government when it lists gsm telephony as its dividend of democracy! I did not realize that Nigerians so much loved a government that makes its own definition of right and wrong, believing it has a god-given duty to think for us! If not, how can one explain the 24 million votes of confidence purported to have been dashed to his party by Nigerians? I have heard it said that no matter how rich you are, you will always be hungry for more money.

To ensure that when we complain about election rigging, our case is made worse, INEC helped them ensure that the margin between the so-called president-elect and the next runner up would be monumental. It was a shutting-up action of the first order. Catch me if you can! I will not join those who call on Obasanjo to save his name so that history will be kind to him. At 70 plus years and having tasted power for as long as he cares to remember, I do not think Obasanjo is in need of any history lessons. Those who have dealt with him in the past, and who express themselves better than I ever will, have told us the nature of the man, his ambitions, his tactics, the state of his conscience and his antics. He has acted true to type and none of his actions of the moment should surprise any of us. Is it not time to make him realize that Nigeria is bigger than he is? What cataclysmic earthquake will happen if Nigerians insist that the elections must be cancelled? Nothing! Nigeria will be better for it.

The gubernatorial, state houses of assembly, presidential and national assembly elections held on the 14th and 21st of April respectively should be cancelled, considered null and void and be slated for a repeat. Nothing short of that is good enough for our dear country. Yes, on the face of it, Obasanjo’s intentions for this country are not in doubt, but that does not give him the right to thwart the wills of all Nigerians. He should stop considering himself a Messiah who is the only one with the solutions to our problems. That is inexcusable pride and arrogance that can only lead to what we are now witnessing: the rape of the people’s will. Nigerians did not vote for all those who have been declared victors. We did not vote for them. They know it; we know it; the whole world knows it and now they are laughing at us. Let no one be discouraged by the plethora of voices (including some African heads of states) now congratulating the so-called president-elect. Their pre-emptive congratulatory messages will not validate fake results; after all it is our country and not theirs! I feel the feverish pitch at which the jobbers in government pay are frantically groveling in every direction in search of a legitimacy that the product of this charade will never get. Not from Nigerians; not from any right thinking citizen of this world; not from today’s children and not from the children of the future. Nigeria is a country of 140 plus million people.

We have a history that predates any amalgamation, declaration of independence from anybody, successions of governments (forced or elected) and we are intelligent. Aso Rock is one single location in the wide wide terrain called Nigeria and whatever power that emanates from it must be the one freely given by Nigerians. In case anyone is short on gray matter, democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. When a king surrounds himself with drum beaters of vainglory he must not forget that he needs his people to legitimize his position. We have not legitimized Yar’Adua’s position, nor have we legitimized that of his fellow players now strutting around the states calling themselves governors-elect. Nigeria is at an important crossroad that will determine what the future will be for us. To whom do we entrust our welfare to see us out of this quagmire? To ourselves O people of Nigeria, to ourselves.

If the legislature cares to join us we welcome them and they will be writing their names in gold. The National Assembly can play its role as the highest legislative body of the land and call things by their name. They cannot allow one man and his ambition and the self-serving band around him to hold an entire country to ransom. Surely our laws provide checks and balances for the legislature to intervene in cases like this? Ultimately, the future of our country is in our hands. Will you play your part? E.O.

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