The Oasis Reporters
March 25, 2019
By Chidiebere Nwobodo
Democracy was bitterly bruised in Kano State. The rerun was nothing else but a rain of impunity and the height of rascality. The full weight of federal government institutions were deployed to ensure that Kano people could not peacefully and credibly choose who governs them. Armed thugs held the state hostage while the brigandage called rerun lasted. Democracy is hemorrhaging in the ancient city. The psychological trauma inflicted on the northwestern state will take decade to be erased.
I make these assertions not because the People’s Democratic Party, PDP is crying blue murder, but as a result of ignoble, unpleasant and scary reports that emanated from the state during the period the festival of horror and bloodletting lasted. It is not because the PDP lost, but the brazen arm-twisting of the masses in determining the outcome of the rerun—that was not necessary in the first place; going by constitutional provisions in declaring a candidate winner of governorship election.
The PDP lost, democracy suppressed but Jonathan “won”.
What do I mean?
Governor Ganduje is not the biggest beneficiary of the rape of democracy in Kano State sponsored by the ruling party, ironically, it is Goodluck Jonathan—immediate past president of Nigeria who was vilified for upholding the rule of law and the tenets of democracy.
Jonathan would never have approved the anarchy that took place in Kano just to return an unpopular governor to power. Kano rerun and its fallout, has won more converts cum supporters for the former president in Kano in particular and northern Nigeria in general. His hitherto hated personality in the region, has suddenly become a symbol of democracy expressed via free, fair and peaceful elections.
I have read several comments of Kano indigenes who have been criticizing President Buhari as regards how chaotic the rerun was. They swore that Jonathan wouldn’t have endorsed such tyrannical actions in the state to win elections.
At the same time, many of them have been pouring encomiums on Goodluck Jonathan for resisting the temptation to perpetuate himself in office using instruments of the state as it is being done by the APC.
Some have even gone the extra mile to apologized to the former president for vehemently opposing his re-election bid in 2015. Most of them confessed that Jonathan is a true democrat who won’t spill a drop of blood to entrench his grip on power.
Once they were blind but now they can see. Some people who called Jonathan a “weakling” while he was in power, can now appreciate how his “weakness” grew our democracy. They can understand the true meaning of executive recklessness with what is obtainable today. INEC’s independence only exists on paper, as the “Independent” word has metamorphosed into “Inconclusive”.
As a president going into elections, he appointed an independent-minded person he barely knew as INEC Chairman, who doesn’t share similar ethno-religious affiliation with him; what Buhari will never do. President Jonathan resisted the temptation to remove IGP Suleiman who happens to come from the north. Security apparatus was not concentrated in the hands of Ijaws, rather it was spread across the geo-political zones. Jonathan never pressurized INEC to “suspend” or declare an election “inconclusive” simply because the PDP was losing. When the PDP lost any governorship election, Jonathan did not hesitate in extending his congratulations to the opposition candidates. But Buhari will never do that going by his body language.
Jonathan signed the 2010 Electoral Act for 2011 elections but Buhari refused; for four consecutive times to append his signature on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for 2019 elections.
During 2015 presidential election, Jonathan could not yield to pressure to sack or “suspend” Jega when accused of being partisan in favour of the APC. When a card reader rejected Jonathan at the point of accreditation to vote, he absorbed the embarrassment in good faith. He spent thirty minutes trying to vote as the number one citizen, yet he did not use all these technical hitches as excuse to cancel the presidential election and suspend the use of the card reader, of which his party had strongly criticized. Some people saw it as a sign of weakness then, but they know better now; that it was an act of statesmanship not cowardice. Even when the results of the election showed that he was losing, he resisted pressures from his aides; picked the phone and congratulated Buhari irrespective of the irregularities that characterized the election, especially in the north.
That singular act of statesmanship endeared him to Nigerians and the world. Buhari who never accepted defeat as opposition candidate, does not have the temperament to concede defeat as a sitting president, let alone refusing to go to contest the outcome of election at the tribunal. Those who alleged that Jonathan “had no option than concede”, can see that he had many options but decided to tow the part of honor. His actions were consistent with his famous statement that his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. If the APC can not let go of a state lost to opposition without inconclusive elections, they will rather collapse the roof on everyone than concede presidency like the PDP did through President Jonathan.
The barbarism that ravaged Kano in the name of rerun election, has brought the opportunity to pour encomiums on Nigeria’s symbol of liberal democracy again, of which the former President Goodluck Jonathan embodies. Sometimes we may not cherish what we have, until we lose it.
Written by Chidiebere Nwobodo.
A public affairs commentator.