Many Nigerians were intrigued by the prospect of witnessing the inauguration of the first female governor. They looked forward to Senator Aishatu ‘Binani’ Dahiru Ahmed ascending the ‘throne’ of power in Yola, Adamawa State, in the northeastern region of Nigeria. Before the 18 March, 2023 state election, there were hushed hopes and wild permutations of the woman able to break men’s commanding grip on state power. She had been consistent since 2011, winning elections to the National Assembly as a representative and, subsequently, a senator.
During the run-in to the presidential election that homeboy, Vice President Atiku Abubakar won handsomely with 417,611 votes, trouncing his closest rivals Bola Tinubu (182,881) and Peter Obi (105,648); it was clear to many observers that the usual threat of veiled misogyny amongst northern Nigerian voters, the gaps and thrust of voting would be much closer as it concerned well-entrenched interests and contestants. Though the first round of election was inconclusive, even as incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri was reportedly leading by over 31,000 votes, the process and results declared by Adamawa branch of INEC were hotly challenged by Binani who complained of widespread manipulation, vote tampering, and such malfeasance. With virtually all the state’s 21 local government areas announced, Fintiri polled 421,524 votes to Binani’s 390,275 – the PDP man had won in 13 LGAs while Binani took the remaining eight.
For the rerun election, only 69 polling units in 20 local government areas were at play, and they consisted of 32,935 registered voters who had collected their PVCs. Based on the pattern of voting in the state, which tallied with the national pattern of about 30+% in many election cycles, anything short of 100% voter turnout, and the high miracle of all PDP voters boycotting the polling units, winning for Binani was a shot in the dark.
Not many people, except incurably partisan supporters of the woman, believed she could overturn Fintiri’s lead, and produce a uniquely historic moment in the geo-political history of Nigeria. It was therefore shocking to many to read the state’s resident electoral commissioner, Prof Hudu Yunus Ari, declaring Binani as the winner just 24 hours after the supplementary election, and collation still ongoing! In a move some knowledgeable persons have described as reprehensible and ultra vires, the REC usurped the duties of the RO (returning officer, Prof. Mele Lamido) who was declared missing in an alleged kidnap drama.
Eventually, after the ruckus which once again triggered the suspension of collation, INEC revealed that the pattern of the supplementary election did not vary from the original election: Fintiri coasted home with 9,337 votes, leaving Binani with 6,513 votes. Lock step!
She has since approached the courts insisting that the announcement of her victory by the beleaguered REC, who was promptly condemned and suspended by the INEC headquarters, should be maintained. Her prayer: that INEC has no powers to declare her declaration by the REC as no event; and that the electoral body had usurped the powers of the Election Petition Tribunal. Politics!
Of course, many Nigerians desire to see a woman addressed as “Madam Governor”, properly so-called, and thus hoped that Aisha Binani Dahiru would be privileged with such dizzying honour. But such glory should be attained without subterfuge, brinkmanship or manipulation.
PETER OBI & THE BURDEN OF INTEGRITY
It now appears incontrovertible the authenticity of the “Yes, Daddy” audio leak promoted by the private telephone chat between the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and the spiritual leader of the Living Faith Church (aka Winners Chapel), David Oyedepo, a bishop – ostensibly conducted on the eve of the 25 February 2023 presidential election. The exhaustive report by a fact-checking online platform, PRNigeria, has put paid to any insinuations, meanderings and deflections about the actuality of the over four-minute private telephone conversation, or the shady intentions of the audacious leakage.
In its 2 April, 2023 report entitled “FACT-CHECK: Is Leaked Phone Conversation Between Peter Obi and Bishop Oyedepo Describing 2023 Election as Religious War Real?”, the fact checker rummaged through the ‘claim’, full transcript of the chats, verification process via speech recognition freeware, rebuttals from persons of interest, and finally, its verdict.
The over 1000-word publication deserves few relevant quotes. First, excerpt from the audio-leak: “”Daddy, I need you to speak to your people in the South-West and Kwara, the Christians in the South-West and Kwara,” Mr Obi said in the audio obtained by The (People’s) Gazette. “This is a religious war,” he added.
““I believe that, I believe that, I believe that,” Mr Oyedepo replied in a measured and conscious manner that was not incriminating.”
Then the reaction: “The release of the leaked phone conversation has generated heated controversy online, especially on the Twitter handle of the Gazzette with over 6.9m views, 2,768 retweets, 6,211 likes, 4,103 quotes and 1,812 bookmarks at the time of this fact-check on Sunday morning April 2, 2023 at 12pm.”
Followed by the enquiry: “Before the publication on Saturday, the Gazette stated that it sent enquiry with the full audio to Obi, media aides including Akin Osuntokun, Valentine Obienyem and Mike Ifedi. They all declined comments.
“On the other hand, Mr Oyedepo asked the Gazette to forward an enquiry to him by WhatsApp, but he declined comments for more than a day after messages and the audio were sent to him.”
The verification process: “While Artificial Intelligence (AI) software can be used to mimic any voice after a few seconds of listening to it, Peter Obi’s Voice returned 93% accuracy after listening to it while Oyedepo’s voice returned with 84% accuracy level when PRNigeria subjected the audio to the speech recognition test.
“…PRNigeria, therefore, subjected the audio to a deepfake test using Deepware scanner, an AI tool used to detect alterations in audio and videos and found that AI was not used in generating or modifying the voices.” And more.
Finally, the verdict: “PRNigeria, therefore, concludes that the leaked phone conversation is to a very large extent FACTUAL.”
From that settled point of actuality, it behoves Obi and the bishop the indispensable element in eminently responsible human interrelationship: the dignity of honest confession and restitution. No one is beyond reproach…in the heat of an acrimonious and high-octane contest, it is understandable for one to stray into concourse of the disreputable, in the quest to access power legitimately, so as to urgently reverse a dire situation where the forces and schemes of the “workers of iniquity” to maintain their reign of impunity and ruinous maladministration have reached an alarming crescendo.
Obi should admit his frailty, apologise for his gross indiscretion, douse the seething animosity amongst his fan-base as engendered by a sense of incredulous electoral loss that could have snowballed into some sort of “religious war” – leave the rest to the Nigerian courts and the Divine to sort out the intricacies, inadequacies and conspiracies associated – real or imagined – with the 2023 presidential elections.