The Oasis Reporters
March 18, 2019
The March 9, 2019 governorship election in Kaduna State may have come and gone but its outcome has sent shockwaves and aftershocks likely to trigger a political tsunami in the State. Given the traumatic experience the people of Kaduna State have had to bear under the brutish dictatorship of Malam El Rufai, the general feeling was that the dictatorship would be democratically overthrown at the polls. The population in the State was poised to holding him to account for the atrocities and waited anxiously for March 9 and when that day came our people went out to cast their votes not in great numbers as did happen during the Presidential ballot. Prior to 9 March, the governor had boasted to the people of Kaduna State that his reelection in his own words, was ‘ A done deal ‘.
The Hausa adage aptly captures such situations by saying that whenever a blind person invites you a game of throwing stones, looking carefully, you will discover that he must either be standing or sitting near a heap of stones. I knew that the governor was up to something sinister. I guessed one of those to be the very fact that the opposition PDP was fielding a candidate who was lacking in capacity to coast home to victory. Had the PDP won, it would not have been on account of the quality of the candidate but purely on account of the fact that the population was fed up with the dictatorship and needed to try someone else. We were almost certain that the dictatorship would have headed for the election petition tribunals had the PDP won with the evidence we believe they were keeping very close to their chest which they brought to the public domain just shortly before the elections hoping to inflict incalculable damage to the opposition candidate.
Little did we know that the dictatorship had perfected a rigging strategy that has turned out to be too good to be true. Malam’s desperation to remain governor was thick in the air in the lead up to the election. He had the financial muscle to navigate the political terrain in both Zones 1 and 2 of the State and this he had already accomplished. He knew too that the population in Zone 3 had already drawn up their battle lines against him except in some pockets where he played very effectively the Emirate card.
His second strategy was to whip up ethnic and religious sentiments pitching one ethnic group against another and one faith against the other hoping to create both religious as well as ethnic upheavals such that it will be impossible to hold elections in the Southern part of the State. This strategy failed because just as during the Presidential vote, people turned up and voted although in lesser numbers informed by the outcome of the Presidential ballot two weeks earlier.
No matter how intelligently any rigging strategy is planned as in any crime, some loose ends will not be tidied up. Let us carefully look at the numbers cooked up which for convenience I am referring to as political alchemy. Everybody agrees that fewer people turned up to vote during the governorship election than happened during the Presidential which presupposes that the total votes cast would be correspondingly lower. The total number of accredited voters was reported to be 1,428,895 while the total number of votes cast was said to be 1,858,878 after the alchemist had emerged from their political laboratory wherever it was located.
You need not be a Professor of Mathematics to know that a difference of well over 400,000 votes existed. It is as shocking as it is embarrassing that the returning officer, himself a Professor still went ahead to declare the cooked up results in favour of the governor.
It is beyond any shadow of doubt that the returning officer was either in a hurry to get the job done as agreed or he may have assumed that this mathematical blunder will be overlooked. He is clearly wrong on this one because there are more questions than answers arising from this shoddy job he has done. This blunder aside, did not the Electoral Act prescribe that where there are more votes cast than those accredited votes from the affected polling unit should be outrightly cancelled for over voting? Did the same Electoral Act not make compulsory the use of Card Readers’ before voting? Why were the Card Readers not used universally all over the State?
Why were results selectively canceled from mostly opposition strongholds? The victory that may have emerged from this sham election at best is pyrrhic. Much in the same political quandary as the INEC Chairman is the Returning officer of the governorship election in Kaduna, Prof Mohammed Bello. They now have the arduous task of explaining to the courts what actually took place at the collation centers prior to announcing the ill fated results. I have asked a question before which I’m compelled to ask here again as I am yet to receive a response from anyone.
What considerations informed the nearly all cast of professors as returning officers?
Could the appointments have been predicated on integrity or what exactly informed it? Whatever answers will eventually distil from these questions may shed some light on this disgraceful outing by INEC.
It is often said that a man can make for himself a bed of thorns but that it is for him to lie on it. The results announced by the Returning officer in the governorship election in Kaduna can be likened to half cooked yam which indicates that as much as you may be hungry, you cannot eat it. Put in another way the result cannot simply be digested.
Happily, the Electoral Act does provide for litigations for candidates who are dissatisfied with the outcome of any election. Here, I must praise the courage of many of the candidates who are challenging the results before the tribunals. It is not only in their own interest to so contest the results as already announced but also the interest of those who voted. We wait patiently for the outcome from the tribunals and from there to the Appeal and surely the Apex court of the land. For now, lawyers are sure having a field day feeding on the carcasses of the fallen. We must though appreciate the amended section of the Electoral Act which has effectively circumscribed a time frame of not more than 12 Calendar months at best for all the casas arising from the elections to be disposed of. There will therefore be no procrastination as is usual in the courts in this beleaguered nation. For those who think it will be business as usual, they better have a rethink.
Written by Col. Dauda Gora (Rtd).
He writes from Kaduna, North West Nigeria.