Lest we forget the 2015 election (2)

Elections2015Continued from yesterday
THERE was too little information from the North East yet PVR were fully distributed: there was a state of insurgency. If it were during the militancy of the Niger Delta no one would believe that youth corps members went there and distributed PVC. You could not.

On Election Day, 28 people were killed by bomb in Gombe while waiting to cast there votes, the same was repeated in Plateau, etc yet there was voting there after!! I know Nigerians like democracy but to go out and vote after bombing polling stations is taking credibility too far.

The reaction after the presidential election goes to show that only Mr. Jonathan changed in this election. The results at the gubernatorial and the national and state houses have been full of bitterness; we were back to square one, throughout Nigeria there were guns everywhere and the security forces did well to control the situation, speak to all who voted and over 70% could have a tale of one or another; ballot boxes snatched, money freely changing hands: speak to bankers and let them tell us how they scrambled to find cash because of the heavy demand for money despite CBN rules: where Naira would not do there was liberal gifts of foreign exchange.

In conclusion, the PVR discarded, widespread rigging characterised the last election.
Under-aged people in line with PVRs; over counting, double voting, etc all the old characteristics of old elections were not abandoned. All parties engaged in them. Cancellations, looting of ballot papers, etc. were the main characteristics of these last elections.

There would be many who would pretend otherwise. We do so at our own peril. We do not trust ourselves. In the South of the Nigeria no one accepts the figures of Kano, Yobe, Sokoto, Borno etc as authentic. Nor do the people from those Northern states accept the figures of Rivers, Bayelsa, etc.

As from 2013, Mr. Jonathan had lost his power of the presidency. One-third of the area of Nigeria paid little attention to President Jonathan as he and insurgents competed for power in the North East, a quick time line would show just how much the President was incapable of stamping his authority in Nigeria. Boko Haram struck anywhere, anytime, at will.

In the North East on April 14, 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped. President Jonathan in September 2014 told the UN that 13,000 were killed, whole communities raped and hundreds of persons kidnapped. Those mostly affected were women and children. There was a near collapse of all security in the area. June 16, 2011, there was a bomb blast in Damboa town near Maiduguri. June 17, Abba Grammar School was hit. January 10, 2010, police station was attacked. January 17, another attack in Damaturu killing 8; and on July 6, 2013, another attack at Mamudu School killing 29 students, burning of children alive.

In Yobe on September 29, 2013 Boko Haram attacked College of Agriculture. February 25, 2014 saw another attack; 29 students killed at Federal Government College. Buni Yadi, more students were slaughtered, their throats cut. March 6, 2014 in Chibok 274 girls were taken.

On May 26, the Army announced that they knew the whereabouts of the girls. April 9, 2014 more scores of girls were killed; enrouted to writing their Matriculation Examination. Boko Haram attacked Teachers College in Dikwa where seven were killed, burnt down school library and administration block. In November 2014 teenage suicide bomber killed 98 at Yobe Government Comprehensive School in Potiskan. By November 2014 – three months to election, police, Federal Government began to play with figures, exhibiting a clear intention that the election must hold at whatever cost. Eyewitnesses reported 50 persons including three teachers, police public relations officer announced the death of 35 persons, 47 wounded. The state governor said 35 students died, many injured, and these were the people attacked; he blamed President Jonathan. The blame game gets hotter. Jonathan promises winning the war against terrorists. Two days later, bomb in Kontangora – Niger State. The northern governors had gone to the United States to claim that Mr. Jonathan had lost their confidence in his ability to run Nigeria.

Towards the end of 2014, there was only one chorus in Nigeria – Election must hold on February 14, 2015. The question raised at the beginning of this story became relevant again. The election was postponed because INEC was still not ready. We had a state of war in Nigeria, foreign troops were here to help us deal with Boko Haram, yet the whole world was convinced of one fact that election must be held by March 28, despite all evidence to the contrary. The North East was restive but agreed on one thing – Buhari must be President.

The West, the United Nations, the World Press, the Nigerian Press all put enormous pressure on President Jonathan that regardless of how unprepared the North East was, election must take place. The political class in the North, chomping at the strains, wanted Buhari at all cost. INEC was accused by APC and PDP of wanting to postpone the election when Dr. Jega was honest enough to lay out all the difficulties of March 28. The situation in the North East had significantly worsened; numerous foreign visitors and journalists went there to look at the preparations for election. No Nigerian journalist went there. Mr. Jonathan was threatened that should he contemplate changing the date he would be impeached, details of the kleptocracy he presided over would be published, etc. The West felt that one more day of Dr. Jonathan was a disaster, too much to contemplate. The North was simmering with barely disguised threat to utter violence.

What President Jonathan should have done was to invoke Section 135(3) of the Constitution of Nigeria which provides for a situation where a section of Nigeria was at war. If the President considers that holding election was impracticable, he should make such view known to the National Assembly who, by a resolution, could extend the tenure of the President and themselves for a further six months, subsequent extension could be obtained, if necessary, for further six months.

Mr. President did not do this or could not do this because of the pressure he was under and perhaps, he wanted to get out while the going was good. If the President had gone to the National Assembly and obtained a six-month extension, that would have invalidated all the primaries hitherto, including his and Buhari i.e. a choice between two disasters, between a rock and a hard place. We would then go back to the drawing board, try to institute party democracy, saved us from the Hobson’s choice of Jonathan or Buhari. We would have had time to demonstrate how the PVR worked, suggested to INEC the utter futility of waiting for accreditations, and then voting when these two steps could be achieved in one seamless move; engaged local and state radio stations, TVs, social media to publish results as have been pasted on each polling booth. Nothing will increase credibility in the electoral system more than early announcement as and when voting is completed.

Please, do not cancel the results. But regard this as an eye opener. I cannot say it would not happen again. But if it does…
• Ambassador Patrick Dele Cole (OFR) is a Consultant to The Guardian Editorial Board.

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