Image: Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, chairman of PDP governors forum
“Once a government is committed to the anti-democratic principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” — Harry S. Truman
If there is any contemporary time, since the advent of democracy in 1999, when Nigerian nascent democracy has come under great test of survival, it is now. The gains of the nation’s democracy for sixteen consecutive years of the PDP reign is being eroded at the speed of light under constitutional dictatorial government of the APC led by President Mohammadu Buhari.
In less than six months of this repressive administration, the two other arms of government—Legislature and Judiciary have suffered great assault and annexation, as result of this ignoble trend, National Assembly—which represents the incontrovertible beckon of every democratic dispensation, has been struggling to defend the legislative independence cum principle of separation of powers since the inception of 8th National Assembly. The ill-conceived and politically motivated on-going trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki can attest to my well-articulated submission that our democracy is under scorn siege.
The recent condemnable, tyrannical invasion of the PDP controlled states by The Presidency and the APC using Elections Petitions Tribunals, to nullify elections held only in the PDP stronghold of Rivers and Akwa Ibom, has the potential of not only truncating our democracy but jeopardizing continuous existence of Nigeria as a heterogeneous State; whose strength and survival can be found only in unconditional respect and protection of peoples will, freedom of expression and electoral mandate as explicitly expressed during the last general elections via ballot papers.
It is on record that some of the APC stakeholders and party stalwarts boasted openly and arrogantly immediately President Buhari was sworn in as the nation’s number one citizen, that they would take over the PDP states of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Delta using the powers of “Federal might”, here we are facing the realities and dire consequences of actions of those anti-democratic elements acting out well-scripted conspiracy not only to decimate the PDP as formidable opposition but enthrone constitutional dictatorship—one party state of totalitarianism.
It can be recall that no reasonable and justifiable excuse was given for the unilateral relocation of Elections Petitions Tribunals of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Taraba to Abuja, other than flimsy one of insecurity which the most gullible, and political unconscious observer could detect the broad daylight deceit, baseless conjectures and unproven fallacies that characterized the entire judicial robbery packaged as Tribunal proceedings, orchestrated and masterminded by the President of Appeal Court under severe inducement of The Presidency and the APC as an interested political party.
It is no longer news that the APC-led Federal Government deployed the institutions of statecraft such as Department of State Service (DSS), to arm-twist and intimidate defence witnesses and INEC staff through frequent arrests and summons. The game plan as this prolific writer enumerated in his previous articles was to prepare the ground for annulments of governorship and National Assembly elections won by the PDP candidates in these respective states.
Now that the grand conspiracy has been hatched—annulment of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, all true lovers of democracy should raise to the occasion to defend our hard-earned democracy and shame enemies of freedom of electoral franchise, on whose whimsical and capacious tendencies the un-negotiable mandates of people of Rivers and Akwa Ibom were subverted in the highly compromised Tribunals, where chairmen of Elections Petitions Tribunals were changed at the beck and call of the petitioners—working in strong synergy with Aso Rock.
Let’s come to think of it, if the PDP could win Presidential, National and State Assemblies elections in these two respective states of Rivers and Akwa Ibom as affirmed by Elections Petitions Tribunals, what could stop the PDP from winning governorships elections held the same day and time with State Assemblies elections?
What magic could the APC have done to win governorship elections in states its failed to produce single National Assembly seat with all the media propaganda and grandstanding?
If the so-called Buhari effect could win elections in the North for the APC candidates, what stops Jonathan effect from influencing the victory of the PDP in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states governorship elections, where Niger-Delta sentiments was very obvious?
President Buhari and the APC should not mistake Former President Jonathan conceding of defeat as a sign of weakness on the part of the PDP and Niger-Delta people. Anything short of respect for the sanctity of peoples will in Rivers and Akwa Ibom is a call for inevitable anarchy, because Jonathan might have conceded defeat to save millions of lives in this fragile entity called Nigeria, Niger-Delta people are not ready to surrender their mandates to intruders and invaders—who want to reap where they did not sow.
Rivers would not endure again pains and agonies they experienced in the hands of last turbulent administration led by Chibuike Amaechi or compromise hard-earned peace they are enjoying in the oil-rich state. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, human rights should be protected by the rule of law. That just laws which uphold human rights are the necessary foundation of peace and security, would be denied only by closed and hyper-rigid minds, who interpret peace as the silence of all opposition and security as the assurance of their own power”, apology to Aung San Suu.
Nigerians have not forgotten in a hurry, what transpired in Benue State Elections Petitions Tribunal, where it was clearly established that the incumbent governor of the Food Basket of the nation, His Excellency, Samuel Ortom, was not nominated through any known or recognised party primary. INEC even substantiated the position of the petitioner that Gov. Ortom was not produced by any INEC accredited primary conducted by the APC.
The PDP went as far as producing weighty and indicting video tape where Gov. Ortom personally confessed not emerging via party primary in contravention of the Electoral Act which was enough to cancel his election and returned the PDP candidate, Hon. Tarzoor as duly elected governor of the state as runner up. Seeing that his political ship was about collapsing in the face of justice and rule of law, Gov. Ortom went begging at Aso Rock to intervene in his favour.
This resulted into the APC setting of high-powered Presidential Committee personally chaired by President Buhari and deputised by Honourable Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to “save” the APC from losing Benue State governorship seat to opposition, the PDP. The impact and influence of this operation-save-Ortom Presidential Committee could be seen in the Tribunal judgement where Gov. Ortom’s election was upheld against the dictates of Electoral Act—that illustrates nothing but rape of justice and erosion of judicial independence.
The unjustifiable rate at which the PDP Governors and Senators are losing their seats at the Elections Petitions Tribunals under the control of The Presidency, while the same Tribunals are using different strokes for different folks strategy to uphold elections of the APC governors and Senators, do not only portend danger for the survival of our fledgling democracy but Nigeria as fragile state—where cultural diversities and political inclinations should not only be respected but seen to be safeguarded against dictatorial elements, who are bent on foisting their parochial, sectional, bigoted and vindictive agenda on the people of Niger-Delta; where the PDP still dominates the political atmosphere.
This is because when dictatorship becomes established fact, violent revolution becomes a right—the recent pro-Biafran protests in Rivers state can attest to this argument vis-à-vis the thoughts of Wole Soyinka, where he stated that “under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist. All that remains is a fiefdom, a planet of slaves regimented by aliens from outer space”.
Discerning Nigerians and keen political analysts are finding it difficult and incomprehensible to juxtapose Elections Petitions Tribunal judgement of Rivers State with Appeal Court verdict on Agbaje vs. Ambode, where it was unambiguously enumerated that the partial or non-use of Card Readers was not enough evidence to cancel an entire electoral processes that brought in a governor together with State Assembly members—whose elections were upheld by Elections Tribunal.
If a superior court of competent jurisdiction in judicial hierarchy like Appeal Court, would dismissed the Election Petitions of the PDP candidate, Jimi Agbaje on the grounds that malfunctioning of Card Readers was not concrete evidence that election did not follow electoral guidelines, the million-dollar question agitating the minds of political pundits is: why would the same judiciary operating with the same constitutional provisions and Electoral Act nullify election of Gov. Nyesom Wike of the PDP on similar grounds?
Where is the neutrality the Judiciary is known for? Where is the preservation of last hope of common man in all these? Is this a crystal case of different strokes for different folks in the quest to obtain justice? Is this the definition of change Nigerians voted for?
The Presidency and the APC should be aware that when the will of the people becomes subverted, using over bearing institutions of statecraft, when the Judiciary that supposed to be the conscience and compass of a democratic state, would ingloriously allowed itself to be annexed by agents of dictatorship, the people are left with no other option than to defend their fundamental rights of electoral mandates using every means available.
The only criterion to lose elections cases in Tribunals under the APC-controlled Federal Government is to be affiliated with the PDP—the same party that conducted an internationally acclaimed free, fair and credible polls that saw the then APC candidate defeating the PDP candidate President Jonathan, to emerge president of Nigeria.
The PDP governors and elected members of National and State Houses of Assemblies have become endangered species in the face of rampaging tyranny and authoritarianism propelled by the APC led Federal Government.
Nwobodo Chidiebere wrote from Abuja. firstname.lastname@example.org