By Yemi Adebowale; email@example.com
By now, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu ought to have resigned as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission. This is standard in decent climes, but it did not happen because we are a third world country. Yakubu and his men presided over the most disgraceful general election in the history of this country, yet, he is still parading himself as the Chairman of INEC. The level of ineptitude and partiality displayed by Yakubu’s INEC in the 2019 elections is unprecedented.
During the governorship elections, Yakubu and his men became overtly partisan with numerous unnecessary stoppages and delays in the announcement of already collated results in most states. At the end of the day, and for the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, INEC declared governorship poll in six states inconclusive, while that of Rivers State was suspended. The affected states are Kano, Sokoto, Benue, Bauchi, Adamawa and Plateau. It is pertinent to note that the opposition PDP was clearly leading in five of the six states. This is food for thought for all lovers of democracy.
INEC has evidently abused its power to declare elections inconclusive. The reasons for declaring elections inconclusive in these states are preposterous. INEC has evidently compromised. Take the case of Sokoto State, incumbent Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, of the PDP met all the conditions to be returned elected, according to section 179, subsection 2 of the Nigeria constitution as amended, yet, INEC refused to do the needful. No cogent reason was given for declaring the Sokoto State election inconclusive. INEC only relied on absurd technical grounds.
Tambuwal was leading his closest rival, Ahmad Aliyu of the APC with a margin of 3,413 votes while 75, 403 votes were cancelled by INEC in 136 polling units because there were violence, willful destruction of voting materials and manhandling of INEC staff. INEC refused to declare Tambuwal winner, saying that it would conduct fresh elections in the 136 polling units because “the total number of votes cancelled were higher than the winning margin and can significantly change the result.” Cancelling voting in polling units because of violence, willful destruction of voting materials and manhandling of INEC staff, did not prevent the overall result from being declared in previous elections conducted by Mahmood’s boys. Tambuwal must proceed to court immediately to challenge this aberration.
Voting was cancelled in several polling units during the governorship elections in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun states because of violence, yet, the final results were declared. Also, during the February 23 Presidential election, voting did not take place in many areas in Rivers, Lagos, Yobe, Borno, Zamfara, Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River and Kaduna states. The margin of Buhari’s victory over Atiku was far below the millions of voters disenfranchised in these places, largely because of violence, yet, INEC went ahead to declare Buhari winner.
In Bauchi State, INEC cancelled election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government adjudged to be free and fair by local and foreign observers, just to be able to declare the governorship election inconclusive. The state’s returning officer, Mohammed Kyari, said violence at the local government collation centre necessitated the cancellation. This is contrary to the position of the collation officer for the local government, Mrs. Dominion Anosike, who said that the alleged violence at the collation centre did not affect her result. Mrs. Anosike was ready to read the scores but the state’s returning officer objected. Kyari evidently took anarbitrary and unconstitutional decision to declare the Bauchi election inconclusive. An election that was duly conducted by various presiding officers and validly collated at ward and local government levels was declared invalid, just to scuttle the poll. What a country! INEC is overtly playing the script of the ruling party.
In Adamawa State, INEC’s decision was most ridiculous. Umar Fintiri of the PDP had polled 367,472 votes against incumbent Governor Mohammed Bindow’s 334,995 votes, after results from the state’s 21 LGAs had been collated. But INEC declared the election inconclusive on the argument that the margin of lead by the PDP, which was 32,467 votes, was lower than the number of registered voters, 40,948 in the 44 polling units where elections either did not hold or were cancelled. INEC in Adamawa should have reckoned with the number of those who collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in the indicated units and not all the registered voters. This is the standard. It is only those that collected PVCs that can vote. This is common sense. The truth is that the number of voters with PVCs in the affected 44 polling units is lower than Fintiri’s margin of lead in the election. So, the Adamawa governorship election was not inconclusive. Fintiri ought to have been declared the winner.
The Adamawa PDP was apt when it declared thus on Monday: “The number of PVCs collected by voters in the 44 PUs is 31,027. So, 31,027 are the only eligible voters in those units. If there is going to be a rerun, the 31,027 people who collected their PVCs are less than PDP’s margin of win. How then would the rerun affect the leading position of the PDP? So, there was no basis in declaring the Adamawa State governorship election inconclusive.”
In Kano, PDP candidate, Abba Yusuf polled 1,014,474 to beat APC’s Umar Ganduje, who polled 987,819. Then, the result for a ward in Nasarawa Local Government Area could not be added because “hoodlums attacked the centre, disrupted the collation and tore the result sheet.” Instead of the INEC to
re-generate the results from its primary and secondary data base and verify its authenticity, it decided to cancel the result and ordered a rerun. The victory of PDP’s Yusuf was needlessly truncated by INEC.
The INEC Chairman’s name and that of his boys across the states are now synonymous with inconclusiveness, fraud and ineptitude. What a shame. Our democracy and electoral processes are under blockade under Yakubu. My message to voters in all the six states is to go out again on March 23, vote and protect the mandate already given Tambuwal, Fintiri, Ortom, Bala Mohammed and Abba Kabir-Yusuf.
On the flip side, men of the Nigerian military messed up during the general election. It was heart-wrenching watching soldiers snatching ballot boxes, attacking opponents of their favoured party and committing all sorts of infractions across the states. In Rivers State, they took the interference in politics to an unprecedented height, while allegedly working for Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi. The likes of Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo, seen as supporting Governor Nyesom Wike were hounded by soldiers. Our military has never been this bastadised. I heard one of the commanders saying the recalcitrant soldiers we saw snatching ballot boxes and intimidating voters/opponents of the federal government were fake soldiers. Well, why have they not arrested the fake soldiers? It’s a big ignominy.
I wept for my beloved country after reading the preliminary report of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria. The EU mission complained bitterly that Nigerian soldiers barred them from monitoring elections in Rivers State. Yes, Nigerian soldiers did this. The Chief Observer, Maria Arena, who is a member of the EU Parliament, faulted the entire elections. She said: “Observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation centres in Rivers, apparently by military personnel. This lack of access for observers compromises transparency and trust in the process. There is no doubt that the electoral process there (Rivers) was severely compromised. Violence, underage voting and vote-buying marred the elections in some states.”
The retiring Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, also indicted the military: “The process has been militarised with armed thugs engaging our security forces, who in their turn are rarely able to be as fair and professional as they claim to be.”
It is an embarrassment that the same APC that went to court (when in opposition) to get judgments barring the military from participating in elections, went ahead (now that it is the ruling party) to deploy soldiers for elections. Has President Buhari forgotten that both the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court gave judgments to the effect that soldiers should not be involved in electoral process? The military has no business with elections and this baloney must stop.
I sincerely hope that our military chiefs will amend their ways and allow votes to count when the supplementary elections hold on March 23. Army Chief, Tukur Buratai, should send his men to the North-east to tackle Boko Haram instead of running after ballot papers/boxes and intimidating the political opponents of the ruling party.
Love from Financial Times
As President Buhari prepares to commence his second term, I urge him to spend quality time reading the Financial Times of London’s editorial of March 6, which x-rayed his first term and pointed the way forward.
The Financial Times remarked: “Nigeria’s recent election produced a winner, but victory for incumbent Muhammadu Buhari has generated little enthusiasm in a country performing far below its potential…. With his renewed mandate, it is now Mr. Buhari’s task to rebuild faith by running a dynamic and successful administration and by building the institutions that can lay firmer foundations than in his previous term.
“The omens from his first four years in office are not good. During that time, the former military leader ran a lacklustre administration with no obvious sense of direction. There was no coherent economic strategy of the sort being attempted by the likes of Ethiopia, Rwanda or West African neighbours Ghana and Senegal to produce the rapid growth needed to haul tens of millions of people out of poverty. It is an indictment of its leadership – both military and democratic – that the continent’s biggest oil producer should have more people living in absolute poverty than any other country in the world.
“Mr. Buhari’s priority this time must be to set out a coherent agenda, implemented by technocrats rather than ideologues, to turn things round. Nigeria desperately needs to create a level playing field for business in which access to foreign currency, permits and other requirements are predictable and rational. His much vaunted crackdown on corruption must go beyond taking action against a few minor officials. Some big scalps would help. More important still is to implement systematic changes – whether by reforming institutions, using technology or by removing arbitrage opportunities – to create a more transparent environment. People should prosper in Nigeria based on what they know and how much value and employment they can create, not by their connections.
“On security, Mr. Buhari’s first term was also less than successful in spite of repeated declarations of victory over Boko Haram. There is credible evidence of a renewed threat in the north-east in the form of a breakaway Islamist group. Nigeria’s army remains ill-equipped, both literally and institutionally, to take on such a challenge. Too often, its armed forces – which have committed human rights abuses of their own – have been part of the problem rather than the solution.
“Nigeria should be Africa’s economic motor. Too often it looks more like a country teetering on the edge. In his second presidential term, Mr. Buhari has a chance to silence his critics. With decent policies and effective implementation, he can stop the rot and lay the basis for a better future. If he can do that, he can yet salvage his reputation. If not, he will go down in history as a general who should have stayed in his barracks.”
I hope the cabal around our President will allow him read this thought-provoking piece from The Financial Times.
Refineries of Doom
The news is that Nigeria’s four state-owned refineries posted a cumulative loss of N114.3 billion in the first 11 months of 2018. Yes, over N114 billion. The refineries are still inefficient, almost four years after the Buhari government vowed to turn things around. Over 95% of petroleum products consumed in Nigeria are still imported because these refineries are still not working optimally. Figures from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation showed that the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company, Port Harcourt Refining Company and Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company made losses in the 11 months under review.
The KRPC made a deficit of N31.62 billion; PHRC recorded N44.2 billion loss while WRPC lost N38.5 billion. The losses were from January to November 2018. The expenses of the refineries were higher than the revenue generated during the specified period. Of the three refineries, Kaduna refinery earned the lowest revenue of N3.1 billion, while it spent N34.73 billion. Port Harcourt refinery generated N140.82 billion and spent N185.03 billion. Warri refinery spent N178.32 billion while its total revenue was N140.23 billion.
The Buhari government has failed to revive the refineries while funding inefficiency. Just imagine what N114 billion would do for the country’s teaching hospitals and higher institutions. N114 billion down the drain in just 11 months. What a country.