Atiku’s mandate to save our democracy – By Segun Showummi
A time comes in the life of a nation when men of valour have to stand up and be counted at epochal moments to stop the ship of state from either drowning or derailing. The history of mankind is replete with the exploits of great men and women who rose to become something out of nothing and selflessly shaped the future and destiny of their societies. These men and women make all the sacrifices and at the risk of their personal safety and resources take the difficult road to put their nations on the map of development and progress.
In China, they keep talking about Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao), in Singapore, it is Lee Kuan Yew, in South Africa, it is Nelson Mandela. But it is not only presidents or leaders of countries who have had this immense impact in shaping the history of their respective nations’ politics and polity. The history of the United States will not be complete without the sacrifices and advocacy of great men like Martin Luther King (jrn) and Malcolm X, both of whom paid the ultimate price for their conviction. In Nigeria, we have had the benefit of seeing great statesmen like the eloquent Nnamdi Azikwe, the visionary and selfless Ahmadu Bello, the philosopher-statesman, Obafemi Awolowo, the foremost masses advocate, Aminu Kano among several others.
These great men used different methods and ways to define the destiny of their respective peoples. They put their resources and talents to use in building virile nations that their future generations have always been proud of.
The PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has made an immeasurable success out of his life. From lonely, challenging poverty-stricken childhood, he has through a dint of hard work, diligence and grace of God, risen to become a fulfilled father and husband, a celebrated entrepreneur, cheerful philanthropist and a conscientious nation builder. He has however never failed to acknowledge that in addition to his business acumen and sheer brilliancy, it is the Nigerian society that has made it possible for him to excel in all he has laid his hands on. He has therefore over the years insisted that the society must also give upcoming generations the same platform to succeed as well. That was why since 1992 he has sought to serve the country at the highest level of governance. That was why on the February 23 2019, Nigerian voters who had bought into his vision of a properly structured, economically-sound and prosperous nation voted for him enmasse before the enemies of the nation changed the result overnight.
Those who are cajoling, begging, intimidating, harassing and blackmailing Atiku not to go to court to challenge the curious figures that INEC boss, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, allocated to President Muhammadu Buhari, are indeed not fair to Nigerians. This is because INEC cannot set a rule and break the rule by itself and be allowed to get away with the grave injustice. The most shocking aspect of the electoral malfeasance put together by INEC which must be of significant interest to our learned justices must be the issue of card readers. The INEC boss emphasized that it must be used for accreditation or an entire polling unit will be cancelled. But when he was presented with the evidence that card readers were not used in most of the places they allocated huge numbers to APC, he threw integrity to the wind by seeking to change the rule in the middle of the game. He said the rule on card readers could be by-passed in the case of any ‘circumvention’ of the machines. Circumvention? How? Why? Where? By Who? And who should suffer the consequences of the so-called ‘circumvention of the card readers?
Secondly, many of the figures reeled out by the inconsistent INEC boss did not add up and even though he promised to provide clarifications after the announcement, he has not done so nearly two weeks after the polls. There is no better way to detect dishonesty.
While declaring Buhari as the winner, saying he polled a total of 15,191,847 votes to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who scored 11,262,978 votes, Yakubu said 29,364,209 voters were accredited, while the total number of valid votes cast were 27,324,583 with total rejected votes of 1,289,607, putting total votes cast at 28,614,190. This means that a total of 1.6 million people were missing in the voter register, considering the fact that the number of registered voters was over 84 million, while the number of collated voters, according to the INEC chairman, was over 82 million.
Thirdly, we have seen hundreds of videos which came out of Borno, Zamfara, Yobe, Kano, Katsina Sokoto etc where people gather in strange places and thumbprinted massively for the APC. The ballot papers used for the election in these selected places must be subjected to thorough forensic checks. If this is done, it will shock Nigerians that in many cases, one person thumbprinted hundreds of ballot papers. Why should such disservice to the electoral process be allowed to stand in the name of a narrow definition of peace? There cant possibly be any real peace without justice and without real peace, we cant make progress as a nation.
Having budgeted N27 billion for technology alone in the 2018 budget, every right thinking Nigerian interested in the credibility of the electoral process expected INEC to for the purpose of transparency and law, display the card reader details to party agents to show how many voters went through the machines. But they did not and this will continue to be a serious dent on the integrity of the election. The difference between the accredited voters and the votes cast, which came to about 750,000 votes is also very suspicious and INEC has some explanations to make. The cancellations that took place in PDP strongholds impacting 2.7 million voters are also fraud-laden.
The people who are mocking Atiku and saying his court case is a wild goose chase are not good students of history. These ignoramuses claim that because no presidential election has either been annulled or upturned in the history of the country, Atiku is wasting his time and energy. But we must inform them that the world does not revolve around Nigeria’s history, after all, we have not practised democracy consistently beyond 20 years. That was why some other obsessive historians said the change of guard of 2015 was impossible because it was unprecedented. The fact that that jinx or myth was broken in 2015 should open the minds of people to the reality of the moment that another jinx could be broken in 2019 even if it means Atiku would be the hero once again. But when this happens, would that be the first time Atiku would be setting records and breaking new grounds in the country’s judiciary? The answer is no.
It is on record that Atiku insisted on testing the Nigerian law in court when his ambition to run for President in 2007 was threatened by EFCC and other government agencies which sought to disqualify him on account of some phony indictments. Atiku went up to the apex court which agreed with him that it was only the judiciary that could find someone guilty of corruption and also disqualify any aspirant from seeking a political office. The landmark cases he won have been sources of references for scholars, Law students and politicians ever since. Since then no governor, or President has been able to use state agencies to stop their political rivals from aspiring for any office of their choice.
If Nigeria is truly a democratic nation, there is no way such malfeasance should be allowed to stand. It is actually easier and cheaper to operate a monarchical system and let a few households rule forever instead of spending billions of naira and losing lives just to conduct what will end up as a charade.
Again, Nigeria will not be the first to annul a badly conducted presidential election as there are precedents seen in Europe and even Africa. Ukraine annulled its presidential elections in 2004 after Victor Yanukovych, who had lost to Victor Yuchchenko after the second round, went to court seeking to annul the results over sundry irregularities.
In Maldives, the country’s Supreme Court invalidated the results of 2013 first round presidential elections pitting former President Mohamed Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen against each other. The later had won the election but the court described the poll as a sham which cannot stand in the sight of the law.
Similarly, the Constitutional Court of Austria ordered a repeat vote after ruling that Austria electoral law was disregarded in 14 of 117 administrative districts in the 2016 election. In the polls, Alexander Van der Bellen had been declared the winner after beating Norbert Hoffer. It also ruled that 77,900 absentee ballots had been improperly counted too early. They ordered a repeat vote to be conducted in October 2016 but it was postponed to December 2016.
More recently and closer home in Kenya, the Supreme Court in September 2017 nullified reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta saying the polls were “neither transparent nor verifiable” and blamed the country’s electoral commission for the shortcomings. Kenyatta, the incumbent president, had won a second term by a margin of 9%, defeating his long-term rival, Raila Odinga before the polls were annulled.
Now that Atiku Abubakar has chosen a patriotic battle not only to reclaim his mandate but also expand the horizon of the country’s jurisprudence and improve the electoral process, all Nigerians of good conscience must irrespective of political affiliations rally round him and encourage him. Atiku’s ambition is not just to be President and rescue Nigeria from poverty and insecurity but to also place the country on map of civilized, democratic and progressive nations.