Never in the political history of Nigeria that certain parts of the country are put in suspense just to hear the announcement of who will be the governor of their state that is almost one month after the elections that were supposed to produce who will govern us at the state level as well as those to preside at the state Houses of Assembly.
Up till now, states like Rivers, Adamawa, Benue, Bauchi, Kano and Sokoto are yet to get governors-elect. From all indication, this quagmire is not just the fault of INEC alone, but the brigandage exhibited by some members of the APC-led Federal Government and at the state level.
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), I believe is in a dilemma as some of the major actors have now resorted to be shopping for courts that will give them favourable judgements to hold the democratic system to ransom. Already, there are injunctions on INEC not to collate any result in Bauchi state, that of Rivers State was not granted, and we won’t be suprised if this copy cat syndrome will not spread to other states.
To those who are familiar with the political terrain proper, all these injunctions are an abuse of the judicial process as they are post-election matters and not pre-election issues. It is only an election tribunal under the law that can handle issues like this. Well, but this is Nigeria where rules are bent and intimidation and harassment of those who don’t do the bidding of the powers that be can be accused of corruption at any given day.
According to the German philosopher, Frledrich Nietzsche, “The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it, what it costs us.” The behaviour being exhibited by those who lost out in the last governorship election has not shown exemplary conduct. And their actions are not just costing the states good governance but also creating uncertainty especially in investment opportunities.
One begins to wonder, for how long some individuals will continue to be allowed to truncate or slow down the democratic process of free choice and making our votes count. The handover date for new governors is just about two months from now and are we certain that with all these delays and now legal ambush being unleashed by desperate politicians, the May 29th handover date will be sacrosanct? No one envisaged that the 2019 general elections in some parts of the country will turn out to be very ugly with broad day light ballot box snatching in vogue and security personnel playing active role in the process.
The problem is not just in the conduct of the elections but how to present the outcome to the public. From various reports which emanated from those who monitored the elections, it seems that there are a lot of discrepancies in the results submitted by collation officers from that gotten from the voting units. Just recently the collation officer for Tafewa Balewa local government area was replaced following threats to her life. This indicates that most results announced so far are highly questionable. This could be the reason state governors from Bauchi, Kano and Adamawa who contested to return for a second term had to go to the conventional court to get injunctions instead of the mandatory election tribunals. To those with understanding of how things work in Nigeria, this is just a delay tactic to prevent those who probably have the highest votes cast from being declared winners of the election.
But the big question is, for how long will this continue? Despite the arm-twisting and other overt strategies that might be used to postpone the eventual outcome, one thing is clear, there is always a terminal date for every elected public officer. The office of governor is not the reserve or birthright of any individual but for those who have the mandate of the people through a legitimate, electoral process.
It seems that Nigerians love the theatre of the absurd more than what is real and can move the society forward. Since 1999, elections have been conducted and results were either accepted or challenged in the courts. But why is it that today things are suddenly different 20 years after. If some say that we are still learning about democracy, the answer is strongly no! We are not learning anything new rather, we are dismantling our democratic institutions one-by-one with the aim of destroying the society if we don’t achieve our selfish interest. And this attitude must change. How can someone still claim that after learning to cast his vote 20 years ago, he is still doing the same learning 20 years after?
For now everywhere there is suspense, people are talking, questions are being asked, even little children are worried and are apprehensive as to when all these charade and Nollywood movies will end so that we can get back to reality. What we need now are people of integrity, of strong will, who can withstand intimidation, bullying, seduction and do the right thing so that those who truly won the elections will be announced. Nigeria is by far greater than the whims and caprices of individuals with inflated ego who want to play tin gods of our politics.
If this situation is allowed to linger more than necessary, the spiral effect will not only affect the individual states but also the federal government as people including foreigners are sad that the 2019 election had set a bad example for democracy in Africa. Were the five sets of elections from 1999 to 2015 a wasteful exercise? Why is it that announcement of election results has become such a herculean task that it will take more than a month to make such?
If the task has become quite difficult maybe it is time to outsource the duties of our electoral umpire to that of Benin Republic to manage, which I believe will do a better job. Benin Republic has had elections which can be described as the pride of Africa. This is a country where a dictator turned democrat lost an election, came back years after and won. This is a country where an Independent Presidential candidate without a political party contested against established political parties including a candidate of the ruling party and won and at the end of his second tenure in office gracefully bowed out of the political scene.
Why can’t we learn from these little countries? Can we say that we have anything to teach the like of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, the Gambia, Malawi, Namibia Seychelles, Zambia or Cape Verde? Our political class seems not have changed as we make the same mistake year in, year out. Nigeria is a country where critics of government interprete what is the truth based on their economic need. When he is hungry and in the opposition nothing is good but when he gets into office it is the opposition that is bad.
The solution to this logjam of the present situation is for INEC to conclude the collation process and announce the results and if a political party and its candidates are not satisfied they know where to get justice, the election tribunals. The tribunals, right from 1999 have been handling such cases and we should stop every pretence that such courts do not exist. The APC chairman, Adam Oshiomohle, or Peter Obi, the Iroko of Ondo politics, Olusegun Mimiko and a few others are all products of the election petition tribunals. So it is not out of place for election losers to go that way.
As a Nigerian, I don’t envy the INEC chairman Professor Mamoud Yakubu. First of all, he is truly under pressure and secondly his integrity is at stake. This is because the job is a thankless one. To midwife an election if we reflect back, has always been full of tension, accusations of being biased, inducement and outright partisanship against the incumbent chairman. From Eyo Esua in 1960, Michael Ani Ovier Whiskey, Eme Awa, Humphry Nwosu, Okon Ewa Sumner Dagogo Jack, Ephraim Akpata Abel Goubadia, Michael Iwu and Attahiru Jega, it has not been easy.
Let’s hope that by the time Mamood Yakubu concludes his assignment, he would put his experience in a book form so that future generations and scholars will learn a lot from him and understand why Nigeria is a strange country.
Huge Cost Of NASS Maintenance Worries TUC
Rivers State chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has called on the Federal Government to reduce the costs of governance in the country, noting that it cost the country billions of Naira to maintain the National Assembly alone.
The State TUC, chairman, Austin Jonah who spoke when he appeared as guest on a live Radio programme in Port Harcourt monitored by The Tide stated that the cost of governance in Nigeria is very expensive and not attainable.
Jonah further said the federal government will have enough funds to pay the minimum wage when they reduce the salaries and allowances of political office holders.
“Look at the welcome pack of the National Assembly members. N4.6 plus billion for accommodation and furniture. A Senator is going home with about N10million, while the member of House of Representatives is taking N9million plus.
“If you calculate with 360 persons in the House of Reps, plus 109 in the Senate, that is about 469 people and they have severance gratuity. They have so many things they are going home with plus their salary. You see, if you look at governance and cut down expenditure in governance this money, they have already taken the money that are talking about.
“They have taken it in the sense that they want to increase communication tax, such as that every call you make you pay tax, sms you pay tax, data you pay tax and even cable Television,” Jonah lamented
The State TUC chairman said what the labour union negotiated with the Federal Government was not the minimum wage but consequential adjustment.
“What we were negotiating was the consequential adjustment. Now from N18, 000 to N30, 000, the difference is N12, 000, which is 66 per cent. That 66 per cent was what we negotiated. By right we are not supposed to negotiate.
“If you trace the history of minimum wage in Nigeria, it started in 1981 during the Alhaji Shehu Shagari Government. Whenever you finish with minimum wage, the consequential adjustment is based on the percentage of the difference.
“The first minimum wage presented by the NLC was N300, but at the end of the day N125 was agreed,” he said.
NASS Promises Better Funding For Nigerian Army
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume and his House of Representatives counterpart, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, have promised to ensure adequate funding for the Nigerian Army in the 2020 budget.
They made the promise on Saturday in an interview with newsmen during the Passing Out Parade (POP) of 78 Regular Recruits Intake at the Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State.
They said that the army needed to be adequately funded to be able to effectively tackle the prevailing security threats in the country.
Ndume, who agreed that the N100 billion proposed for the defence in 2020 budget was inadequate, said that the committee on army was looking at how to help to enhance the funding.
He said that the national assembly was aware of needs of the army that needed to be provided to enable its personnel to perform their duties effectively.
“We are going to do something despite the fact that the resources are scarce but security is first and everybody has agreed to that.
“We are looking at the budget critically to place our priorities right so that the right things will be done first.”
Namdas said that the joint committee had embark on fact finding tour to army formations across the country and realised that the army had challenges.
According to him, they are really on ground, they have done so much and now that the National Assembly is considering the budget we can appropriate for the army.
“We will see how we can be able to adjust and see how that can be able to cope with the challenges at hand,” he said.
Namdas also disclosed that a motion to provide for special funding for the armed forces was currently being considered on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He added that the armed forces could not be adequately funded only by the budget, adding that there was need to look beyond the budget to finance the operations of the armed forces.
“That motion has been taken and we are looking to it and by the special grace of God, even after the budget we will look for special funding for the armed forces generally,” he said.
The Depot Nigerian Army on Saturday graduated a total of 4832 regular recruits who would be deployed to various formations of the army.
Similarly, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, urged the graduating soldiers to always uphold the oath of allegiance they had taken to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Olonisakin also tasked them to display total loyalty while pledging that the prevailing security challenges would soon be over through the commitment of the military.
APC, Party For Notorious Liars – Ayade
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has described the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a group of persons notorious for lies, especially in his state.
He said the assertions credited to the APC chairman in the state, John Ochala, over his return to school to pursue a Master’s degree in law at UNICAL were as laughable and pathetic as the party itself in the state, adding “the party in the state is notorious for lies.”
Ochala is reported to have said that Governor Ayade returned to school because of idleness and laziness and that he (Ayade) lacked ideas on how to govern the state.
But the Governor in a statement by Mr. Christian Ita, his chief media adviser, said it was “funny that a party like APC which prides itself as a major opposition cannot engage the Governor on governance issues but chooses to lie to score cheap political points.
“If they didn’t see anything wrong with Governor Malam Nasir el-Rufai returning to school in 2017 in faraway Netherlands for his PhD, what,then is wrong if Governor Ayade returns to school to add to his numerous degrees within Calabar, the state capital?” he asked.
The statement reminded the APC that Chief Whip of the Senate and member of the APC, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was an undergraduate student while serving as Abia State governor.
“The timing of Governor Ayade’s decision to return to school is unequivocally perfect. Unlike APC members, the governor, despite all the resources at his disposal didn’t choose any foreign university, he decided to do it locally thereby boosting the reputation of Nigerian universities at a time tertiary institutions in West Africa are under attack,” he said. Ayade said to attack his quest for more academic degrees shows that APC in the state was weak as opposition party and could not be able to distract him.
Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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