Last week’s governorship supplementary election in Kano State failed all democratic tests and electoral decency, writes Olawale Olaleye
For the simple reason that it is a critical swing state, elections in Kano State have always generated huge interests across all visible interests and amid key actors. At least, since the advent of the Fourth Republic, no one declared winner of a presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lost Kano to the opponent. Kano is and remains crucial, in addition to being well positioned geo-politically.
In Kano, the choice of leaders has always been determined by her people and that choice has never been tampered with so brazenly in a sense that calls their bluff. Indeed, the people of Kano have always boasted that the kind of electoral heist that often characterises other parts of the country especially, the Southern Nigeria was not possible in the North West state. This, they say with enviable sense of pride and huge confidence.
This is not to say that Kano does not encourage some degree of electoral highhandedness, perhaps, to enhance the chances of their choice candidates. That would be too absolute. Otherwise in what box would the controversial underage voting fit? But while such indulgence is always entertained in unison and collective interest, resort to violence to steal votes has never been part of their political culture. On the contrary, it has always been in protest against stolen votes.
But that confidence and pride of place of the Kano people was bruised penultimate weekend, when during the supplementary election for the governorship category of the 2019 elections, the electoral field was ceded to thugs and the choice of who emerged leader of the state was at the mercy of political scoundrels, who intimidated, harassed, maimed, killed and practically dished out orders to electoral officers on the direction they wanted the voting that was to determine the eventual winner of an election that was earlier declared inconclusive.
Not only were there live feeds from the various polling stations and the situation room on what Kano’s political firmament had become on Saturday March 23, eye witnesses accounts of their experience were both gory and scary. Kano was simply thrown to the dogs. Legitimacy of voting was trampled underfoot and the use of force and violence, assisted by agents of government at both the state and federal level was evident. This is a dangerous development.
The truth about the Kano election is that it cannot and must be allowed to stand. The implication of allowing the election to stand is that it would be rewarding thuggery, electoral theft and manipulation, abuse of power and office as well as scant regards for simple extant electoral laws. The nation would be the worst for it.
Again, if this electoral malfeasance is allowed to stand, then, a new foundation for electoral fraud might have been laid, with the government in power being genuinely complicit. All it takes for the losing party to do is move in thugs to disrupt an ongoing electoral process with the security agents looking the other way.
This, of course, forces the electoral umpire to declare the exercise inconclusive and whenever the supplementary is called, more thugs are moved in and this time – well planned and more determined to deliver the party with an advantage – most likely the party in power. This is an anathema and it must not be allowed to stand.
Suffice it to say, however, that what happened in Kano also happened in a few other states and therefore not peculiar to Kano. But with the standing of Kano in the body polity, it is obvious that the ruling party was determined to have Kano at all cost, even if it meant walking on dead bodies to the government house.
The fact that there was a curiously marked difference in the voting pattern and the scores posted by both parties from when the first ballot held and when the supplementary election was conducted, showed brazen manipulation of the March 23 process particularly, with the outlandish votes recorded in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and against the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the extra polls. It evidenced a poorly orchestrated violence to enhance a premeditated rigging that eventually reproduced the Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje.
This is not an intervention shrouded in ambiguity – the Kano election must not and cannot stand. Candidate of the PDP, Abba Kabir-Yusuf, must therefore approach the court and seek to correct this anomaly. It is not only that it cannot stand any decent democratic test; it casts an overwhelming pall on the credibility of the current administration of Muhamamdu Buhari, whose sole selling point is integrity.
Although a majority of the people now share the integrity mantra of the government with scorn, to gloss over the Kano mugging will further drag what is left of the hyped integrity in the mud – the mud of shame – if that means anything to them.