The Progression of Electoral Rascality

The Progression of Electoral Rascality

While awaiting the transition of political power, Nigerians should confront impunity, writes Monday Philips Ekpe

“Kleptocracy, corruption, injustice, dirty politics, unscrupulous political movers, patronage politics, destructive and corrupt political dynasties, and impunity have found perpetual happiness in the Pearl of the Orient Seas.There are so many endless questions:What have you done?What are you going to do?Will silence, apathy,vindictiveness, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse and economic abuse go on?Will you just go with the flow of kleptocracy, corruption, injustice and impunity?When will you ever genuinely decolonise your mind from colonial mentality?Will you live and work upholding truth and honesty as you continue to help strengthen the country’s collective memory of various factualincidents in history without being politically biased?Are you one of those who committed revisionism, cancelling out, discrediting others, peddled disinformation, calumny, gossip-mongering, fear-mongering, destructive lies, group political narcissist bullying, harassing,blaming, gloating, provoking, sabotaging, intimidating, threatening, abusing others as you are more loyal to a political party than the truth?Will there be honest public servants and honest lawmakers?
Because with honesty as a top living value, you can find effective solutions to many issues in society.Are you willing to help minimise, stop and eliminate corruption, violence, injustice and impunity?
Are you going to be one of those honest voices for the voiceless without breaking the law?Are you going to help hold accountable those thieves, perpetrators, scammers, and corrupt members of society without breaking the law?I have so many nagging questions, but I shall always end it with these: Will you be honest in every deal?
How hard is it to be truthful? Willyou uphold the truth and justice?Do the fact and truth whisper to your conscience?Then, are you willing to honestly listen to it and move toward the right, lawful and humane actions?”
– “Solo la verità è bella Trilogy”, by Angelica Hopes Onestopia, a Swiss/Italian/Filipino author.

Angelica Hopes could well have written with the Nigerian political space in her fertile mind. But that’s the power of creativity and the communality, often understated, of the human race. Those rhetorical questions ought to prick the seekers and occupiers of government offices but that would be out of character, as things stand. Thefact that people do actually throw away morality and common sense in their pursuit of public positions, trample on their own conscience and, eventually, abuse general interests should bother everyone. Unfortunately, that’s how many political elitesare wired.

The country has just gone through series of elections and in a month’s time, the winners will be sworn in while placing their right hands on either the Bible or Quran, in most cases. Ordinarily, May 29, 2023 should witness solemn change-of-baton ceremonies across Nigeria. That is if we choose to forget the blunt but instructive words of the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji LamidiAdedibu, who once counselled that unless one was prepared to place his hand on the holy books and lie with a straight face, he or she wasn’t ready for Nigerian politics. So, many of those who will either assume another term or take over from the present occupants in Abuja and most state capitals, will do so mindful of the unholy battles that led to their declared victories. Even the losers, many of whom cannot claim clean hands, will be saddled with various degrees of regret, bitterness and plots to shorten the jubilation of those pronounced winners by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

As expected, the 2023 federal and state elections and their outcomes have reaped both favourable and depreciative reactions. If the unprecedented lukewarm atmosphere that followed the conclusion of the presidential poll, the chunk of the comments of local and international observers and, more recently, the drama surrounding the supplementary election in Adamawa State are to be admitted as credible parameters, this year hasn’t advanced the cause of our democratic journey meaningfully. Yes, the nation has gone through the ritual of electioneering and balloting, but those processes have produced more posers, in the mould of Angelica Hopes’, than the much-needed reassurance that we’re truly on the path to a virile, more enduring democracy. Instead, ours is now a one-step-forward-two-steps-backward motion. For some persons, there’s nothing to worry about this conundrum. To them, the right attitude is that of “whatever will be will be.” But, for me, fatalism or sheer resignation is certainly not the way to go as human beings are imbued with the capacity to organise themselves deliberately and productively, if they so desire.

Soon, drums will be rolled out to encourage the people to dance and forget their sorrows, to embrace the “dawn of a new era”, to wish away the grave misdeeds that took place at many locations in the federation only few weeks back, and hope for transformation at different levels of government. But, not so fast, in my opinion. This is not to suggest thatthe culture of simply moving on to other things even when critical incidents and events have not been adequately addressed, or the state of being overwhelmed by too many contending issues is peculiar to Nigeria. Especially when things happen in quick succession, there is the tendency to get used to or gloss over them. Psychological responses, like living in denial, can even then take the centre-stage. Any society that finds itself fairly permanently and comfortably in such descriptions, however, may in truth already be in bed with retrogression and self-defeat.

The Adamawa debacle, for instance, shouldn’t be rushed into the pages of history. Here’s why, partly. The INEC, still down with the burden of proving its competence, neutrality and optimal performance, swore that it had learnt enough from the yawning loopholes of the February 25 and March 18 polls and was ready to creditably superintend over the April 15 follow-up outings. Many Nigerians won’t forget too quickly that the electoral umpire did attract to itself very negative criticisms; some exaggerated, others well-earned. But one refreshing moment during that exercise was when the commission stepped out promptly to cancel the rogue declaration of Aishatu “Binani” Dahiru of the All Progressives Alliance (APC) as the winner of the gubernatorial election. The INEC shouldn’t be denied that trophy as that move averted a potentially combustible situation.

The actions of the undisputed lead-villain of thatbreach, HuduYunusa Ari, erstwhile Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who unlawfully made that ill-fated pronouncement, have since placed him in Nigeria’s political history’s hall of infamy. Even as ignominious as that is, it’s not satisfactory, if we want to take ourselves seriously. For usurping the constitutional powers of the designated Returning Officer (RO), more bizarrely without the benefit of all the relevant entries and with subterfuge, what Ari did was a coup, a treasonable offence that deserves the full compliments of commensurate consequences that must include forceful arrest, psychiatric and intoxication tests, thorough investigations and speedy judicial procedures. Nearly two weeks after committing the crime, he is still on the run.

The stories of the protests that resulted from the primaries that weekend in Imo, Bayalsa and Kogi states, in preparation for the governorship polls later in November, weresomehow overshadowed by the ones that came out of Adamawa. Kogi’saccount was particularly pathetic and daring. While the APC leaders and members in the east and west senatorial zones were waiting for the event to commence, they heard the announcement of the winner. It appears their only option now is to seek redress in court, which could prove to be a tortuous journey to nowhere.

If much of what the nation gets after a quarter of a century into the present republic is a harvest of blatant transgressions of relevant voting laws, we must look inwardly urgently and be determined to act decisively toretreat from the brink.

Dr Ekpe is a member of THISDAY Editorial Board

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