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Nigeria’s Electoral Woes

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Nigeria has learnt nothing from its long and chequered train of electoral woes. Nigeria has a very unusually queer habit of ignoring its historical antecedents and facing the future blindly having learnt nothing from her past mistakes.
The first major crises that nearly tore Western Nigeria into shreds with spillover effects to other parts of Nigeria was resultant from a mismanaged election. In fact apart from the 1993 Federal elections, Nigeria has not conducted any credible, free and fair elections. But instead of etching his name in letters of gold in the annals of Nigeria’s history, the then Head of State General Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda cancelled the most successful and the most popular election in Africa and passed on the winner, Chief M.K.O Abiola to Gen. Sani Abacha to arrest, incarcerate and waste. General Babangida’s reason for cancelling the election then was that many of his top army Generals did not support the Presidency of Chief M.K.O Abiola. What rubbish, what nonsense.
Elections all over the world are always contested with so much gusto and enthusiasm. Let us use this example from the United States of America and even our neighbouring Ghana to show Nigeria the way forward. The American Presidential Election of November 7, 1876 is still till date one of the most disputed elections in American history especially in the States of Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida and Oregon. All over America, the Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden won by more than a million popular votes but this was overturned by the Electoral Board (which was controlled by the Republican Party) in favour of R. B Hayes. The 1876 Presidential election dispute gave rise to a crisis, the like of which the United States had never seen. Many Democrats who felt that they had been cheated threatened “Tilden or war”. Congressman Henry Watterson from Kentucky even declared that an army of 100, 000 men was prepared to storm Washington if “Tilden was denied the Presidency.”
Since the American Constitution then was not explicit enough on how to resolve disputes from Electoral colleges, the Senate and the House of Reps voted to establish a Federal Electoral Commission Bill to tackle the existing crisis. And on January 29, 1877, President UIysses S. Grant signed the Electoral commission bill into law. The 15 members of the commission were made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and five Supreme Court Judges. None was appointed by the President.
Despite great opposition from the Democrat-controlled House of the Representatives, the new Electoral Commission voting on party lines (eight Republicans, seven democrats) awarded all 20 disputed electoral votes to the Republican candidate and thus R. B Hayes was sworn in as America’s 19t and most disputed President on March 5,1877. Most bitter democrats later referred to Rutherford B. Hayes as “Rutherfraud” “His fraudulence” and “His Accidency”. An extensive incursion into the American example is to demonstrate man’s ingenuity and ability to conquer his environment and solve his problems as pronounced by God Almighty.
But by far the greatest electoral frauds and manipulations occur more rampantly in African countries. There is really no African country that has not tasted of this bitter pill of electoral violence and crises at one time or the other in its history. Togo, Uganda, Rwanda, Benin, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the most guilty apart from Nigeria. On the other hand also, there are only few countries in the world without electoral violence and crises. But most of these countries have overcome their electoral crises by either constitutional amendments’ or electoral bills, Americans solved the 1876 debacle by amending their constitution in just four days because it was an emergency. In Africa, Ghana and South Africa have had the best record of credible elections for some time now.
The Electoral Commission of Ghana is the official body responsible for all public elections in Ghana. It was established by the Electoral Commission Act of 1993. The seven founding members including its Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan are all still serving their 16 year on the commission. The members are not political appointees neither are they appointed by the Ghanaian President. Their independence is guaranteed by the Ghana Constitution of 1992.
Dr. Afari-Gyan who was invited last week by the Nigerian Democratic Institute and the Nigerian National Assembly to educate them on the way out of Nigeria’s permanent Electoral logjams advised managements of electoral bodies in Africa to “imbibe” transparency and openness to ensure true democracy in Africa.” He chided African politicians for taking elections as a do-or-die affair and that this desperate quest for power at all cost has placed the Electoral Commission in Africa in a difficult position before, during and after the conduct of elections.
He also encouraged and appealed to Civil Society Organisations or NonGovernmental Organisations to actively support and ally with the Electoral Bodies all over Africa. Ghana has a credible electoral body because Ghana has been able to reduce her tolerance level for corruption to zero, while Nigeria’s corruption level still stands at about 95 per cent. Nigeria encourages, pampers and rewards its corrupt officials while Ghana jails any official or even minister who is found guilty of corruption. Today, without mincing words or being sentimental Ghana, is Africa’s best model for democracy and strong democratic institutions.
By far the greatest area of difference between Nigeria and Ghana is the conduct and management of credible elections. While Ghana’s last two elections have been excellent, Nigeria’s last two elections are the worst in the annals of Nigeria’s electoral history, and in Africa as a whole. Nigeria has a litany of electoral woes and unsettled electoral petitions arising from the May 2007 elections.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State was lucky he got back two years of his stolen mandate. The Action Congress gubernatorial candidate for Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayerni is still challenging the incumbent governor before the Ado-Ekiti Election Petition Tribunal in the third year after the May 2007 election. Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has accused the incumbent governor of a stolen mandate and has given enough evidence to declare him the new governor of Osun State.
Hopefully the court will decide that. We all still remember how the Ekiti re-run election was rigged in the glare of television cameras. Comrade Adams Oshiornhole was lucky too; he got his stolen mandate from the avaricious People’s Democratic Party.
Various efforts to reverse electoral mismanagement and fraud have proved abortive as President Umaru Musa Yar Adua has bluntly refused to implement the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee recommendations.
Nanaghan is editor’s guest

Ben Nanaghan

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We Get Petrol At N200 Per Litre From Depots, IPMAN Cries Out

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The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has decried the ‘unsustainable’ price that the private depot owners sell the premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol in the country.
Speaking, yesterday, on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the Deputy National President of IPMAN, Zarama Mustapha, revealed that the private depots get petrol at the approved price of N148/litre from the sole importer of the commodity, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, however, sell it for as high as N195 to N210 to independent marketers, which is not sustainable.
“Though marketers get petrol at the approved price of N148/litre from NNPC depots, the company does not have enough storage facilities to cater to the needs of marketers, hence, the latter resorts to private depot owners. It is more of the issue of private depots collecting the products at the approved price and not selling to the independent marketers at a price approved by the mainstream, downstream regulatory authority.
“You cannot get a product at N195 to N200 and expect to sell it at N175,” he noted.
The IPMAN official said depot owners give excuses such as the cost of transporting the product from the mother vessel to their depots and escalation of the dollar as reasons for the price hike.
Mustapha lamented that most Lagos depots are in a chaotic situation and marketers spend three days to load refined petrol that they are not supposed to spend more than three hours to lift.
He urged the NNPC to engage depot owners to sell the product to marketers at the recommended price, saying the common man is at the receiving end.
For weeks, vehicle owners have had a tough time getting petrol from filling stations, especially in Lagos and Abuja.
Whilst many outlets are closed, the few open ones sell the indispensable commodity for as high as N250 per litre from the uniform price of N169/litre.
The supply shortage has led to long, gruelling snake-like queues at the few open filling stations as motorists and business owners jostle to buy fuel while others resort to the black market.
The situation has also worsened traffic on major roads as vehicle owners block at least one lane to join queues to filling stations.

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Make Nigerian Youths Innovative, Buhari Tells Corporate Leaders

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President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked leaders of corporate organisations to build the capacity of Nigerian youths to be innovative and embrace technology to make positive contributions to their organisations and the nation.
The president, represented by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, said this at the Institute of Directors (IoD) 2022 Annual Director’s Conference (ADC), yesterday, in Lagos.
The ADC had as its theme: “Corporate Governance and Digital Transformation: Leading Purposefully for Growth and Sustainability.”
Buhari, noting that the challenges associated with corporate governance were multifaceted, stressed the need for heads of organisations to harness technology to achieve effective governance.
He reiterated the commitment of his administration to providing the necessary legal support and framework to support the entrenchment of good corporate governance practices across various sectors of the economy.
Buhari also pledged his commitment to supporting the IoD by giving the institute’s chartered bill the necessary consideration to enable it to achieve its mandate.
Deputy Secretary General, United Nations, Ms Amina Mohammed, said the world was hit by a series of global crises which have affected the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Mohammed said technology and digitalisation would set the era of digital transformation in areas of health, education, agriculture and finance.

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Nigeria Does Not Belong To North, Arewa Youths Tell Northern Elders

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The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has said that Nigeria does not belong to the North ahead of the 2023 general election.
Apparently reacting to the recent interview granted by a member of the Northern Elders Forum, Alh Sani Zango Daura, in which he called on the North to support a Northern candidate.
The AYCF, in a statement issued by its National President, Yerima Shettima, noted that supporting a southerner was clearly a demonstration of justice.
He noted that this was because Nigeria does not belong to the North alone, or Muslims and Christians of the North, insisting that “even on moral grounds, the most responsible political action by the North was the decision on powershift in 2023, because the Presidency cannot be hereditary and Nigeria is not a Banana Republic”.
Shettima further said, however, that the elder was expressing his personal opinion and not the stand of the North in general, saying that a “ little balancing was needed in position of our father Zangon Daura, more so when he admitted that the elders are mere escorts for the younger generation today”.
The AYCF noted that when 13 Northern governors led by Kaduna State Governor, Mal Nasirel-Rufai endorsed a Southern candidate for the 2023 presidency, they repeatedly cited political justice.
“Though we are not card-carrying members of the APC, we shared the view that the decision was in line with being fair to the South in 2023.
“We are aware, as well as our father ZangonDaura, that the North is respected for honouring its promises to the South and this one absolutely undeniable character of all Northerners.
“We are not known to break promises and that explains why our son, President MuhammaduBuhari never objected to the idea of a Southern presidential candidate in the ruling party. In the North, like our father ZangonDaura knows, promises are sacred and in fact a culture”.
It would be recalled that in a viral audio of AlhajiZangonDaura while addressing a group of youths, suggested that they should throw their weight behind a fellow Northerner for the presidency in 2023, citing historic and religious instances, something the AYCF said it believed was “overtaken by events, current realities, and the spirit of justice and fairness in the Nigerian project”.

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