S. Okechukwu Mezu. Nigerian Elections 2007:Chronicle of Shame and Deceit. Baltimore, Black Academy Press, 2007, 168 p
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This Nigerian Election Must Not Be Allowed to Stand
Nigerian Elections 2007 have come and gone. It was a chronicle of shame and deceit: shame to the country and deceit of the population. It must not be allowed to stand.
As early as December 2006, Nigerians knew and the world confirmed it that the Obasanjo’s government and INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) would not be ready for the election. Pierre-Richard Prosper, a former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crime Issues, led a ten-man delegation from the International Republican Institute (IRI), Washington D.C. that spent one week in Nigeria to assess the country’s readiness for a free and fair election in April 2007.
Prosper summed up their experiences in the following words:
We express grave concern over the fact that with only two weeks remaining before registration deadline, less than half of the machines needed to capture voter data electronically have arrived, let alone deployed to registration centers throughout the country. We are further concerned that only 3.5 million of the potential 60 million eligible voters have been registered as at the end of last week. … The leadership of the INEC has set a noble and ambitious goal of implementing this cutting edge system to deter the past fraud in the registration efforts and the ensuing acrimony …. However, to meet the expectations of this goal on the time-table established is quite seriously in doubt, based on interviews with majority of those with whom we met. As a result, INEC is losing credibility with the general public. … In its entire stay in Abuja, the delegation did not see one single poster with relevant information, and our attempts to view a registration [of voters] was stymied by the fact that no one knew how to locate one.
Yet the Government of Nigeria and Obasanjo claimed that it had invested the huge sum of N17 billion for the April 2007 general elections and N15 billion was claimed to have been given to the INEC chairman a week to the election. Dr. Maurice Iwu, INEC Chairman claimed to have awarded about 1000 contracts for the election supplies including the introduction of the Direct Data Capture Machine (DDC), that was “to prevent all loopholes that existed in the past for fraudulent politicians to rig elections.” The DDC machines were neither available for registration purposes nor for the actual election.
An article, “Nigeria’s Elections: Avoiding a Political Crisis,” in Africa Report No. 123, Dakar/Brussels, Wednesday, March 28, 2007, drew attention to the consequences of failure of the elections.
Failure could provoke violent rejection of the results by wide sections of the populace, denial of legitimacy and authority to the new government, intensification of the insurgency in the Niger Delta and its possible extension to other areas, with potential for wider West African destabilization. The preparatory phases have indicated failings in terms of basic fairness for the opposition, transparency and respect for the rule of law. Unless stakeholders make urgent efforts to rescue the credibility of the process, Nigeria’s already serious internal instability could be fatally aggravated.
Warnings came from at home and abroad, including the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, who on March 15, 2007 in Kaduna described the INEC as “unserious and ill-prepared for the April 2007 general elections,” and warned about the dangers of a failed transition program. The Sultan added that in the face of INEC’s “manifest un-seriousness,” it was difficult to convince his subjects n the INEC’s readiness “to conduct a free, fair and violence free elections.” He concluded by emphasizing that “we will pray to the Almighty Allah to make it work because we need to have this election; we need to see through this transition so that we will not be a disgrace in the eyes of the world.”
For the Presidential election, the INEC announced the following as candidates for the exercise:
|1. Prof. Patrick .O. Utomi||Engr. Ibrahim Musa –||ADC|
|2. Sir Lawrence F. Adedoyin||Alhaji Ali Abacha||APS|
|3. Maj-Gen. M. Buhari (rtd)||Rt. Hon. E. Ume-Ezeoke||ANPP|
|4. Chief E. Osita Okereke||Hajiya Asabe Mauna||ALP|
|5. C. Odumegwu-Ojukwu||Alhaji Habib I. Gajo||APGA|
|6. Chief Adebayo Adefarati||Alhaji Mahmud D.Sani||AD|
|7. Dr. Iheanyinchukwu G. Nnaji||Dr. Adamu Musa||BNPP|
|8. Maxi Okwu||Hajiya R. Yasat Affah||CPP|
|9. Attahiru D. Bafarawa||Engr. Ebere Udeogu||DPP|
|10. Rev. Chris O. Okotie||Fela Akinola Binutu||FRESH|
|11. Chief Ambrose Owuru||Alhaji Ibrahim Danjuma||HDP|
|12. Maj. M.Adekunle-Obasanjo||Mohammed M. Abdullahi||MMN|
|13. Dr. Oladapo Agoro||Eghenayheore Ayi (Mrs)||NAC|
|14. Dr. Osagie O. Obayuwana||Mal. Yunusa S. Tanko||NCP|
|15. Alhaji Aliyu Habu-Fari||Prince Chudi Chukwuani||NDP|
|16. Dr. Akpone Solomon||Alhaji Abdullahi Abdullahi||NMDP|
|17. Mal. Aminu Garbarti Abubakar||Kingsley Onye-Eze Ibe||NUP|
|18. Prof. Isa Odidi||Oluwafolajimi Akeem-Bello||ND|
|19. Galtima Baboyi Liman||Abitti Onoyom Ndok||NNPP|
|20. Dr. Brimmy A. Olaghere||Mal. Zainab G. Bayero||NPC|
|21. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua||Dr. Goodluck Jonathan||PDP|
|22. Arthur Nwankwo||Mohammed Abdullahi||PMP|
|23. Orji Uzor Kalu||Inuwa Abdulkadir||PPA|
|24. Chief Sunny Joseph Okogwu||Hajia Larai Umaru||RPN|
Of course, the elections in the component states and Abuja came on April 14, 2007 for the Gubernatorial and State Assembly posts and on April 21 for the Senate, House of Representatives, and Presidential posts. The rigging surpassed worst fears of many. I was not there present physically. Hence I have compiled these reports from Nigerians and foreigners who were eye witnesses of this crime against humans and humanity. The 2007 Movement of the Nigeria House of Representatives has this to say about the elections:
By any standard, this election cannot be called free, or fair, much less credible. It was a predetermined systematically orchestrated exercise that was out to return the ruling party at all cost. The barbarism, violation, etc, were as outrageous as they were unprecedented. We therefore reject the result in its entirety and call for another fresh election under a reconstituted INEC, and after the 29th of May 2007, when President Olusegun Obasanjo must have left….This undoubtedly is the worst election in the history of this country. This is the greatest disservice to democracy as it is capable of not only undermining it, but also in fact derailing and crippling our democracy altogether.
Foreign election observers and observers from Nigeria have confirmed that this is probably the worst election ever not only in Nigeria but in the history of electoral democracy. The electoral crimes ranged from the stuffing of ballot boxes, to the hijacking of ballot papers. Several polling stations were not opened. The ones that opened had no ballot boxes. During the gubernatorial and state assembly elections, many people lost their lives; there was thuggery and burning; intimidation using state security services was unleashed to stymie opposition.
During the Presidential elections, it has been adduced that more than seventy percent of the sixty million ballot papers (printed in South Africa at the very last minute by INEC for the Presidential election) were deliberately abandoned in the cargo wing of the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. This means that about eighteen million ballot papers only were delivered in Nigeria for the sixty million prospective registered voters. Since these arrived in Nigeria on the very night before the election, how were these delivered to the nooks and corners of Nigeria’s 923,768 square kilometers stretching from the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean (Bights of Benin and Biafra) to areas bordering with Cameroon in the East and Chad in the North-East, Niger in the North, and Benin Republic to the West. How were these ballot papers and election materials delivered over night to the low coastal zone, the hills and plateaus of the Center, to the mountainous zones of the East, some between 1,200 and 2,042 meters high and this including the riverine areas of the Delta region and the impassable gullies of the hinterland?
I was not there, so I will leave Nigerian and foreign journalists and reporters to tell the story in their own words. We dedicate this work to them for some lost their lives and others paid with their property. The Nigerian elite have been called upon to lead the resistance against this evil election that desecrated all that is noble and glorious about government of the people by the people. Silence is complicity. This farce of an election and an open rape of democracy must not be allowed to stand. Nigerians were urged by the world to tolerate and accept the sham election of 1999 that installed Olusegun Obasanjo as President against the votes of the people and against their wishes. They were rewarded with the inglorious catastrophe that was the 2003 Nigerian S-election which gave rise to my lead article in this book “Who is Afraid of Local Government Elections,” published in several media in 2003. Corruption and greed on the part of some and powerlessness on the part of others, interminable litigation in election tribunals for over thirty months, assassinations and victimization, dehumanization and incarceration of opponents, emasculated a courageous opposition, some of whom paid with their lives, while others paid with their property.
But this election must not be allowed to stand. Letting this election stand would be enthroning barbarism and hooliganism that could destroy Nigeria and lead to its disintegration. Eventually, this spill all over to the rest of Africa during any future attempt at a so-called “democratic” election in the country. And of course, it will then affect the West, the East, the North, the South and the World. Prevention is better than cure. This criminality must not be allowed to stand and every intellectual must use whatever weapon at his or her disposal to fight it.
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WHICH WAY, NIGERIA
By S. Okechukwu Mezu
“No country of this size and financial structure has much to say about its operation. The big money-men of the world who decide whether to invest or not; and the big governments of the world who decide whether or not to give aid, run just as much of Nigeria (or maybe more) than the Nigerians.”
Today we live in a global village complicated by events in other parts of the world. The Nine-Eleven tragedy in America has hardened the attitude of the former colonial masters and the United States. Life has become a serious matter of survival. Irrespective of the government in power in America and the Western world, the economy must be fueled. The millions of vehicles in the Western world must be fueled, the houses need heat, electricity is taken for granted. Every second in life needs oil to function. There are no sentiments about this. It is a matter of survival.
The Mid-Eastern oil has become problematic with the posture of Iran, the debacle in Iraq, the intractable problems between Israel and Palestine, the fragility and nervous vulnerability of Saudi Arabia. The western world does not care what sort of government is in power in Nigeria as long as the flow of Nigeria’s sweet crude oil continues. The illegitimate devil you think you know that came to power through undemocratic means is better that a legitimate democratically elected government whose tomorrow is unpredictable to the West and possibly inimical to its interests.
Democracy and government of the people by the people for the people has never been donated as a gift to the people. No it was not so in France in the eighteenth century; neither was that the case in Britain with the Monarchy. Even colonial America had to fight the British government not the people for their independence and democracy.
Any Nigerian who believes that the Western world and foreign countries will fight to install democracy in Nigeria for Nigerians is living in a volcanic fool’s paradise. The rigging of Nigerian elections in 1963 was child’s play compared to the rigging in 1983 and each one was followed by a military take-over. The rigging in 1999 was out of the playing field when placed side by side with that of 1983. Because Nigerians accepted the election sham of 1999, the players of the political parties perfected the rigging and killing and maiming of 2003.
United by negative bonds of union and centrifugal forces, the players and shakers of politics and the economy in Nigeria brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 after Abdulsalim Abubakar’s “visit” to the United States of America, and the immediate sudden “natural” death of the unmandated President Sani Abacha and the sudden “natural” death of the mandated and would-have been President Moshood Abiola. Like the military and civilian leaders before them, the General Babangidas, the General Danjumas and other “stake-holders and shakers” of the economy and politics in Nigeria brought Obasanjo to power forgetting that once crowned the King (to survive and remain supreme) must isolate and emasculate and, if need be, eliminate the kingmakers.
This is exactly what happened following the 2003 return to power of President Obasanjo who then installed a new set kingmakers and courtiers, Inspector Generals of Police, Chairmen of “Independent” National Election Commission, EFCC, ICPC, NDDC, NMA, NAA, NPA, BPE, PDP, PTDF, NAMA, NUC, NAICOM, NRIC, PHCN, NICON, NAFDAC and other acronyms from the letter “A” to the letter “Z” and beyond. Like their predecessors, they will be, if not yet, isolated, emasculated, and if need be, when the time comes, eliminated.
But power is transient and nothing under the sun is lasting. When the time came, even in the United States of America, President Nixon had to go, just like President Idi Amin, General Mobutu, and the rest of them. What goes around comes around and this the outgoing President Obasanjo should know. Babaginda and Danjuma, among others imposed Obasanjo on the people of Nigeria as a President against Obasanjo’s inclination and against the will of Nigerians. Obasanjo eventually became the nemesis of Danjuma and Babangida and unfortunately the rest of Nigeria. Today, Obasanjo, having learned nothing from history and less still from experience is trying to impose a Yar Adua as President against Musa Yar’Adua’s inclination and against the will of Nigerians.
The Champion Newspapers, Sunday, February 25, 2007 in an article entitled “Beware of Yar’Adua, Danjuma warns OBJ,” John Shiklam, from Kaduna reported that former Defence Minister of Obasanjo, Gen. Theophilus Y. Danjuma, has urged President Olusegun Obasanjo to beware of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, warning that the latter may turn against the President after the April general elections. Retired General Danjuma spoke at a meeting of the Northern Christians Elders’ Forum (NOCEF) at Arewa House, Kaduna. Danjuma criticised the PDP presidential primaries where Yar’Adua emerged on the grounds that the democratic right of party members to freely elect the flagbearer of their choice was compromised. Of course General Danjuma was guilty of this crime in 1999.
Danjuma philosphised that that only God knows the hidden thoughts and character of man, and noted that the candidate (Yar’Adua) as president, may move against the kingmaker. Danjuma on hindsight, became humble enough to admit that “only God knows the hidden thoughts and character of man, only God knows the future. The danger of trying to be a kingmaker is that while you may sincerely think that your preferred candidate will be the best for the society. The candidate as king may become King Kong trying to destroy not only the kingmaker, but also the larger society.”
“Some of the champions around whom we built much hope for the nation” he continued. “have turned out to be fake intellectuals, fake statesmen, fake men of God and even fake friends. God is the ultimate and only true kingmaker and judge. … Let us pray that our leaders will not turn a blind eye on the lessons of history so they don’t fall into self created pits. Let us pray that they may see the futility of egocentric and megalomaniacal schemes for self-perpetuation whether in or out of political office.”
“Let us pray for the possessions, blurring vision, wickedness and self deification. Let us pray that critical national institutions that have been strengthening democracy such as the Judiciary, the National Assembly, the Press, Security Agencies and others would continue to rise to the challenge of ensuring that the next elections are credible, free and fair, so that through patriotic actions, we may be saved from avoidable crisis and national disgrace. Let us pray for the grace to bear the insults that is usually the reward for giving brotherly counsel to our self-opinionated leaders. Let us pray that Nigeria may fulfill her destiny as a united, prosperous and powerful nation.”
One should add that it is incumbent on every Nigerian to really pray for General Danjuma who in 1999 while imposing Obasanjo on the people, boasted that he would go into exile if the “savior” Obasanjo lost the election. How are the mighty kingmakers fallen!
This notwithstanding, Nigerians must not allow the farce that is called Nigerian Election 2007 to stand. Only Nigerians alone can stop this recurring chronicle of shame and deceit. The deceit called Nigerian Elections 2007 must not be allowed to stand or sit otherwise Nigeria is forever lost to itself, to Africa and to the black world.
As stated earlier at the beginning of this presentation:
The present Civilian Governments of Nigeria on the Local, State and National levels have failed the people woefully. The hope that Nigeria’s civilian leaders would accomplish for the nation what military rulers hungry for adulation at home and meteoric respect abroad failed to achieve has been dashed…. Nigeria, once again is being buffeted by the very same pressures and centrifugal forces that led to the demise of the regimes of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, General Aguiyi Ironsi, General Gowon, General Murtala Muhamed, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Generals Buhari and Idiagbon, General Babangida and General Sanni Abacha. Any Government that comes to power without the will and concurrence of the people is doomed to failure and for such a Government or collusion of State Governments to aspire unilaterally (outside a national conference) to rewrite the Nigerian constitution, abolish or review the Local Government System, drastically change the fundamental, directive principles of governance and abiding way of life of the Nigerian people, is a dismal exercise in futility doomed to quintessential failure.
Whither then this amalgamated country called Nigeria? Nigeria must not be allowed to disintegrate. The eventual security and salvation of the individual Nigerian and the individual component ethnic groups in Nigeria lie not in the disintegration of the country and/or ethnic control of the sector’s natural resources, but in the eventual further amalgamation of the component elements of black Africa under a government of the people for the people where the resources of the whole are used for the benefit of the many and not expropriated from the few for the abuse of privileged aliens and non indigenes. This is a task Nigerians and Africans alone can do.
Members of the House of Representatives under the aegis of Movement 2007, while rejecting the results of the April general elections have suggested as reported in the Punch newspapers on Thursday, April 26, 2007, that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi take over the government after May 29, 2007. The group said the April general election could not be said to have been free or fair, nor credible, just as it alleged that the results were predetermined, to ensure the ruling Peoples Democratic Party returned to power.
We associate ourselves with this call. There are three branches of Government – The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. No human being is perfect. Hence organizations run by human beings can be expected to be imperfect. The Executive have failed us in Nigeria. The Legislature despite its efforts could not maintain its independence because of centrifugal forces. They have also woefully failed Nigerians. In any case, on May 29, 2007, the present Executive branch of government and the legislature constitutionally cease to exist. Only the Judiciary shall stand. Hence these proposals are thrown out here for consideration:
1. Chief Justice Kutigi should act as an Interim President for the purpose of organizing fresh elections, following which he should also retire and cease to be the Chief Justice of the Federation.
2. The Chief Judge of each state should likewise become the interim Governor of its respective state for the purpose of organizing fresh elections following which he or she should also retire and cease to be the Chief Judge of the State.
3. The Interim National Government should immediately disband INEC, set up a new Electoral Commission on the National and State levels.
4. The Interim National Government should immediately facilitate the emergence of not more than three or four national parties from the existing political parties but with provisions for independent candidates who meet prescribed requirements.
5. The Interim National Government should organize a standing mechanism for the registration of voters and continuous updating of such registers.
6. The Interim National Government should arrange for the immediate establishment of a Printing press or presses for the secure printing of serially numbered ballot papers for use in elections as well as facilitate the compilation, digitalization and display of voters’ registers and mechanisms for the efficient distribution and security of ballots prior to and during elections.
7 The police and the Army should be kept out of the conduct of future elections and only called in if there is a break-down of law and order, in which case the elections should be cancelled.
8. The future INEC should see its duty as the efficient conduct of elections and not the screening and/or disqualification of candidates which should be left to political parties, not their leaders, and finally with the nation’s courts.
9. The Interim National Government should also set the remuneration, allowances and retirement packages of future members of the State and National Assemblies.
10 The Interim National Government should convene beginning July 2007 a National Conference of all Political Parties and zonal stakeholders with a view to revising the Electoral Register, pruning the political parties to not more than three or four, following which the existing parties should be proscribed and new Local Government, State and National Elections held before March 2008. Any future Constitutional Review should be the work of the elected representatives of the people in a new National Assembly issuing from the March 2008 elections subject, of course, to the approval as provided for in the Constitution by the newly elected State Houses of Assembly.
11 Such new constitution should only become operative at the expiration of the prescribed term or duration of the New National Assembly which for convenience should be regarded as a Constituent Assembly.
May God bless Nigeria. May God bless Africa. May God bless the black world.
Dr. S. Okechukwu Mezu, May 19, 2007.
Source: S. Okechukwu Mezu. Nigerian Elections 2007:Chronicle of Shame and Deceit. Baltimore, Black Academy Press, 2007, 168 p
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Dr. S. Okechukwu Mezu, a graduate of Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) has a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) and studied at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris) and was formerly the Biafran Ambassador to Ivory Coast during the Nigerian Civil War.