The general elections have been shifted once. In this article, Moses Akinola Makinde, a professor of Philosophy, is urging the international community to prevail on President Goodluck Jonathan to keep his words to hold the polls as rescheduled.
No honest Nigerian is impressed by the series of promises made to Nigerians, United Nations (UN), United States (U.S.), European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and recently, former South African President Thambo Mbeki, by President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in recent years. The following are the often repeated but broken, and likely to be broken, promises by President Jonathan.
He promised that the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) chief, Prof Atahiru Jega, will not be removed or sent on compulsory leave when the general elections he is destined to conduct is only about two weeks away.
That the PDP is not afraid of elections, so that the March 28 and April 11 dates for the elections remain sacrosanct and as sure as death.
That he and the PDP stand on the agreement to prevent violence by any means, including hate campaigns through advertisements and documentaries that could easily lead to violence.
That he and the PDP would accept the result of the March 28 election, and if the PDP loses the election he, as former President will go back to his village.
Record of broken promises
But from experience, many Nigerians doubt the sincerity of President Jonathan on his promises since he took office six years ago. For more than five years, he had promised Nigerians that he would end the Boko Haram insurgency. Alas! Each time he made the promise, the Boko Haram struck the following day, sending many people to their untimely graves.
He also promised that the Chibok girls would be returned to their parents when the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaigned to him to stop making more promises (The Nation March 7, 2015, p.3).
The President had promised several times that Prof. Jega would neither be removed nor sent on compulsory leave. But on each of the following days, the PDP would organise a rally and put up advertisement for Jega’s removal. And Jonathan seemed to enjoy the undermining of his authority as Mr. President, who appeared not to be in control or in charge of the hawks in his party.
He has also vowed and even almost sworn by the Bible, Ogun (Yoruba god of iron) and Amadioha (a god of the Igbo), that the election would not be postponed again. Yet he tried to look for ways of creating an atmosphere for frustrating the election as rescheduled.
This is probably why an amorphous group called the Young Democratic Party (YDP) suddenly woke up to get a court order, reminiscent of the mid-night injunction of the Babangida era, in order to postpone the election by asking INEC to register it at this very late hour, knowing full well that such a court order will lead to the postponement of the election that the whole world has been looking forward to.
This court order ran counter to warning of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed to judges against “scuttling 2015 polls, or truncating the present democratic dispensation by election-related suits in the various courts”.
The CJN also warned against “any ruling capable of re-enacting the June 12, 1993 presidential election debacle” (Punch, March 11, 2015, p.8). And because the CJN is “really interested in ensuring that the election holds smoothly”, he warned judges handling some of the cases that “if any awful thing happens, the head of court and the particular judge linked to it will have to take responsibility”.
In logical parlance, the promises usually made by Dr. Jonathan border on what is known as “contradictory supposition”, making utterances that are contradicted by his actions. It has been rumoured that President Jonathan and the PDP were behind the court’s order that YDP be registered probably as a way of postponing the election once again even after he (Jonathan) had sworn that the election must irrevocably be held.
Who is afraid of PVCs?
While the whole world hailed the use of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and Smart Card Readers (SCRs) as the 21st century innovation that will stop rigging of elections for which Nigeria is notorious, the PDP, with a handful of inconsequential “political parties”, is trying to block the use of these anti-rigging devices by all means, because the use of the PVCs and SRCs will are not in their rigging interest. The question that is being asked is this: if the PVCs and SRCs are devices meant to stop rigging at the coming elections, why should any honest political party fight so hard and so blind to stop their use unless such a political party has seen that the anti rigging devices will stop its rigging plans? Now, the PDP, through Akwa Ibom State Governor Akpabio and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum (PDPGF) has shot itself on the foot.
In objecting to the use of the SRCs, the PDP said there were cases of cloned PCVs which the SCRs detected and rejected. It quickly went to town to say that the PVCs rejected by SCRs were those cloned by the APC. Habba!
Even, if the APC actually cloned the PVCs, it is APC and not PDP that should kick against the use of SCRs precisely because they would have known that their cloned PVCs would be rejected by the SCRs. But ironically, it is the APC, and not the PDP, that strongly supports the use of the SCRs for the elections! It is also strange that it is also the APC and not the PDP that hails the use of the SCRs meant to authenticate the genuine owners of PVCs which the PDP accuses the APC of cloning. What an irony! The entire scenario has exposed the PDP as the real PVCs cloners, in addition to their purchases of these PVCs, all of which will now be useless in the elections on March 28 and April 11 with the application of SCRs. The possibility of rigging the polls by the PDP has been dealt a death blow by INEC, whose chairman and other members are appointees of the same PDP. So, if the INEC has committed any offence, it is because the Commission has stood up for transparency, integrity and lack of partisanship in the conduct of an election that would have allowed the PDP to rig themselves to power even amidst its unpopularity at home and abroad.
Concerning the issue of hate campaigns at rallies as well as hate advertisements, documentaries and hate utterances, the PDP has been the major culprit. The APC has, on several occasions, warned the First Lady and the hate campaigners of Mr. President like Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose, Presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe and spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PPPCO) Femi Fani-Kayode about their hate campaigns against Gen Muhammadu Buhari. Ironically, the hate campaigns are now tearing the PDP apart, as they have backfired (See Jonathan, Mu’azu clash as PDP’s hate campaign backfires, “The Nation, March 11, pgs14 & 60). For example, the Fayose’s “death wish” advertisement for Gen. Buhari; Dame Patience Jonathan describing Gen. Buhari as “brain dead” and echoed by Femi Fani-Kayode who said: “yes, truly, Buhari is brain dead”, Dame Patience Jonathan’s instruction at one of her campaign rallies that PDP supporters should “stone” APC supporters clamouring for change, and her response to the people of the North that they “breed more children than they can cater for” during one of her campaigns in Cross River State have, like the hate campaigns of Fayose and Fani-Kayode, attracted more sympathy for Gen. Buhari and the APC than ever before.
The APC has reported Dame Patience Jonathan to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for instigating violence. If care is not taken, her case may follow the way of Ivory Coast’s ex-First Lady, Simone Gbagbo, who was jailed recently over election violence for “undermining public security” and for “disturbing public order” in order to “show that impunity in Ivory Coast must not continue” (Sun, March 11, 2015, p16).
Between issue-based and hate campaigns
What surprises watchers of election campaigners is the fact that, while the APC constantly dwells on relevant issues like corruption, insecurity, unemployment, impunity, bad economy, massive poverty, lack of electricity and water supplies, poor management of the oil industry, unremitted $20 billion oil money, the recent ¦ 30 trillion unaccounted for by the Federal Government, the scandal of assisted rigging of Ekiti gubernatorial election by the military as shown on the video and other vices and crimes committed by the Federal Government in for almost six years without ceasing, and which are public knowledge to the international community, the PDP has no answers to any of these campaign issues till today other than personal and ceaseless attacks on Gen Buhari’s honest, forthright and incorruptible personality, thus attracting again more sympathy for the retired General as a heroic and winning presidential candidate.
Beyond travel ban
Although the UN, U.S., EU and AU, especially the first three, have always come out to condemn the activities of the PDP administration under President Jonathan, Nigerians are skeptical about the sincerity of their condemnations which are only mouthed but never acted upon. The U.S. has stated that any politician caught with hate campaigns that are capable of leading to political violence will be denied entry into the United States. This has not happened. The U.S. has been disappointed once about the postponement of the election originally scheduled for February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11.
I doubt if any of these powers will do anything if President Jonathan reneges once more on his promise to conduct elections on the painful rescheduled dates for the general elections are not likely to act until the elections are postponed again as a result of PDP’s complaint about the PVCs and SCRs and the orchestrated court order compelling INEC to register the amorphous YDP at this 11th hour when elections are only a few days away!
Once beaten, twice shy
I should say that it will be hypocritical for the UN,U.S., EU and AU to act only after the election had been scuttled by those who are afraid of losing the election but will prefer a crisis that will lead to a military takeover, if only to prevent a popular candidate from emerging as winner of the election. If anything happens, I can say, with glee, to the outside world: “I told you so by forewarning of the impending danger of the intrigues, tricks and subterfuge of the President Jonathan-led administration towards bastardising and truncating democracy in Nigeria this year and beyond. Or is it the case that the U.S. wants to see its prediction come true that Nigeria would break up in 2015? This question must be answered in words and deeds, as the nation and the rest of the world are waiting and watching the scenarios as they unfold between now and the D-days – March 28 and April 11. God save Nigeria and its hugely traumatised citizens.
Makinde, a professor of Philosophy, is the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (DG/CEO), Awolowo Centre for Philosophy, Ideology and Good Governance, Osogbo, Osun State.