The recent Supreme Court judgment which has invariably distorted the political situation in Zamafara State and done incalculable damage to the fortunes of the State Chapter of the APC understandably came as a shock to many observers of the Nigeria political scene. While many saw it coming way back, many never believed such a situation could manifest, and even many more never envisaged or contemplated such an improbable political macabre dance of the absurd.
The circumstances leading to this dramatic turn of events is not only in the public domain but has become well understood by political watchers. Two contending groups within the Zamfara State Chapter of the APC had major disagreements on the outcome of primary elections conducted to select candidates who will fly the flag of the Party for various positions in the just concluded elections.This situation ended up in court and could not be resolved before the expiration of the time stipulated by INEC for submission
of the list of candidates. It was finally laid to rest last week by the Supreme Court when it unanimously and resoundingly held that the APC had no candidates in the just concluded elections, having not conducted valid primary elections as required by law.
Coming exactly twenty years since the return to civil and democratic rule in our country Nigeria the Supreme Court judgment is probably a very unfortunate development indeed and a fitting testimony to the low quality of democracy practiced in Nigeria after twenty unbroken years. But even more than that, this situation calls for sober reflection on the part of political parties and all lovers of democracy and the democratisation process.
While the scale and magnitude of the casualties in the Zamfara imbroglio may be unprecedented, the circumstances giving rise to this unfortunate development are not particularly new.
Since the general election that ushered in democratically elected leaders at various levels in 1999 the conduct of various political parties, particularly pertaining to party primaries, has left a lot to be desired. The Supreme Court, at some point or other, has had to intervene and wield the big stick just like it did in the Zamafara matter, and hand down punitive decisions that ordinarily should serve as a deterrent, but that desired deterrence hardly ever gets to fruition. The Omehia/Amaechi matter in Rivers, the
Hembe/Mato matter, the Boko/Nungwa are just a few of such instances.
In a relatively recent decision of the apex court – APGA vs. Anyanwu, their Lordship of the august seem to have been slow to any form of intervention in what is referred to as the domestic affairs of a political party. This is how Kekere-Ekun, JSC captured it: “membership of a political party is the domestic affair of the party concerned, and the courts will not be involved in deciding who the members of a political party are… In Lado vs. CPC (2012) 12 WRN 1, this court observed that with the introduction of section 34 of the Electoral Act, the absolute powers of political parties had been curtailed slightly but emphasised the fact that the provision did not in any way alter or modify the principle that the question as to who is a candidate of a political party for any election is a political question within the domestic jurisdiction of political parties and consequently not justiciable”
It is a different ball game entirely when in exercising this right conferred on political parties they are in palpable violation of their constitution, guidelines and regulations.
however, indicate that where it is established that a political party has violated its constitution and guidelines, then the matter ceases to be within its domestic realm, and can be inquired into by the courts. See Aghedo vs. Adenomo (2019) WRN 1 at 54 where Kekere-Ekun, JSC had this to say: “the law is settled that a political party has a duty to obey its own constitution and guidelines See Hope Uzodinma v. Senator O. Izunaso (No 2) 2012 2 WRN 1; (2011) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1275) 30. Therefore, in respect of its own constitution and guidelines, the court will not allow a political party to act arbitrarily or whimsically… Put differently, a political party is not allowed or permitted to operate above or outside its own laws – its constitution and guidelines, and indeed the constitution and the electoral act”. Clearly, the point that is being made by the apex court is that a political party is at liberty to make whatever law it chooses or pleases, but once that law is made, it has to be obeyed hook line and sinker.
And this is precisely what happened in Uzodinma vs. Izunaso (2012) 2 WRN 1 where the apex court per Rhodes-Vivour, JSC had this to say: “where the Political Party nominates a candidate for an election contrary to its own constitution and guidelines, a dissatisfied candidate has every right to approach the court for redress. In such a situation the courts have jurisdiction to examine and interpret relevant legislations to see
if the political party complied fully with legislation on the issue of nomination. The courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes”.
Although the subject matter of Uzodinma vs. Izunaso (supra) had to do with nomination of candidates for an electoral contest, it nevertheless gives us an insight into the attitude of the court to situations of breach of the law, guidelines and constitution of political parties under the guise of domestic matters.
It is our hope and expectation, therefore, that the Zamfara case and several other cases referred to here and the seemingly changing attitude of the Supreme Court as the policy court of the land, will combine with the gradual consolidation of our democratic process and form the basis for which political parties will not only operate on the basis of internal democratic principles but will equally serve as a constant reminder for them to respect their constitutions and guidelines.
Tinubu, Beware the Ides of Abeokuta
By Meyanga Abu
Abeokuta of recent is becoming a town of political pronouncements by APC presidential flag bearer, Ahmed Tinubu. If Abeokuta were to be Ile Ife, the ancestral home town of the Yorubas, I would have said that it is the Yoruba ancestral spirits that is telepathically communicating those messages to Tinubu who is only relaying the pronouncements of their ancestors to the public.
In political battle fields or political warfare, not all campaign statements and specking are usually held against the speakers but when such utterances tend to touch the nuclei of the political cells of the politicking groups, one may need to do some critical analysis of such pronouncements to unearth the-behind-the scenes This becomes imperative as one of the prominent members of APC, the governor of Kaduna state has added his voice to Tinubu’s outcry that there are some elements in the presidential villa that want APC to lose the forthcoming presidential election.He pointed out that these elements are behind the move to redesign the currency and increment in fuel price. My question, are these elements in the villa not member of APC led government headed by Buhari? Huuuu.
Bewaring the ides of Abeokuta in political context is literally warning Tinubu to closely watch out for betrayal and misfortunes that may emanate from his political pronouncements and statements in Abeokuta.
Tinubu before his recent statement in Abeokuta may be having the feeling that his party and the government of the day led by his party APC, may betray him sensing the unfolding events in the polity especially the two major policy shifts – the speculative increase in fuel price and the redesign of our currency.
But there is one big question everybody would like to ask; is Tinubu as a national leader of APC, the party in government saying that he was not aware and not part of the decision to change the colour of naira and the increment in the price of fuel? Or does it mean that Tinubu’s opportunistic political love affairs with Buhari and the fragile rope that held their relational dynamic is about to snap away?
If not, why should Tinubu castigate the policies of his own party and the driver of the policy, Mr president as being directed to sabotaging his chances of winning the forthcoming presidential election. The activities behind the scene need to be unraveled for the laymen to understand the reasons behind those statements.
Without being told, it is believed and claimed that Tinubu’s gamble in 2015 help Buhari to ascend power, but we need to look beyond that. Before the election of 2015, many Nigerians were fed up and disenchanted with President Jonathan’s administration and were eager to vote him out without minding who ever came as long as they push Jonathan away.
Things were really getting bad to the extent that Jonathan voiced out that stealing is not corruption.
Buhari, once a general always a general, who quickly read the mood of Nigerians that were desperately looking for a new leader moved out from his normal northern cocoon, reaching out to other parts of Nigeria to get nationwide supports. He was easily welcome and embraced because many people believed him to be no nonsense man, anti-corruption, man of integrity, “mai gaskiya” and so on.
Tinubu was at hand from the south-west as a political leader and so many other people from other zones. That is what gave Buhari the edge or presidency and not just only Tinubu.
Tinubu’s statement on his party and their government sabotaging his presidential move is the second in the series of his campaign drive. If we could remember vividly, he made one statement before the primary elections at the same Abeokuta that Buhari came to him hand in hand to solicit or rather beg him for his supports and that he made Buhari to win the 2015 election. He went further to say that it is now his own turn.
There are two sides to this his statement however which he Tinubu has not told us clearly. Is Tinubu saying that it is his own turn to be helped by Buhari to win the election as he, Tinubu has helped Buhari to come to power in 2015 or is he saying that now is his turn to be the president of Nigeria? If he means that it is Buhari’s turn to help him to wine, that is understandable; Buhari has already helped him to win the primary election and gotten APC presidential ticket. As it is today Buhari might not be able to convince or may not have that courage and boldness to tell the electorates to vote for Tinubu because many Nigerians are battle ready to take their pains and angers to the ballot box comes February 25, 2023. He can only campaign for Tinubu but cannot force anybody to vote for him in general election. You all know our expectations of Buhari, the no nonsense man, the corruption fighter who promised to kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria and where are we today?
If on the other hand Tinubu meant to say that it is his own turn to rule Nigeria, he should be made to understand or people should educate him that governing Nigeria is never turn by turn but by credible election.
A soothsayer once told Julius Ceasar to beware the ides of march, a sort of alert of what might befall him on that day. Tinubu needs to restrict his political utterances that may tend to cause dissatisfaction among the political elites and his party faithful.
Today there is no such soothsayer to warn Tinubu, not that his life is in danger like ceasar, but some of these utterance, accusing the government of which he is part of and his party of sabotaging his presidential ambition, could be politically suicidal and can make people to lose confidence in the sincerity of APC as a party and Tinubu its flag bearer.
Menyanga Abu, FIMC, CMC
Management and Development Consultant
Morning After 25th February 2023 Presidential Elections: A Qualitative Trend Analysis
By Iyorwuese Hagher
It is morning on 26th February 2023 in Nigeria. The previous day, the nation stood still, as voters queued at their polling stations to exercise their civic duties to elect Nigerian’s next President. With the new BVAS, the voting, collating and transmission of votes were concluded speedily.
The political parties were in their situation rooms, watching throughout the night with deep skepticism the INEC portal and news rooms.
The citizens await the results in fear. They are rightly afraid that electing a wrong party, and wrong candidate would push Nigeria over the cliff to total collapse as a failed state where there is no government, and war-lords divide the country, and inflict on the hapless citizens the reign of unmitigated terror.
But outside the homes, on the streets, in the inner cites, and the suburbs, the social media had finished tallying the votes and a winner had emerged. The _Obidients_ began to celebrate the victory of Mr. Peter Obi whom the social media gave the winning votes 55,850,000 or 60% of total votes cast, winning in 20 states while Atiku Abubakar came second 23,250,000 or 25% of votes cast and winning in 10 states.
The social media relegated Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the third position, winning in six states with 13,950,000 and 15% of total votes cast. In their results, all 93 million registered voters had cast their votes! The _Obidients_ denounced any announcement by INEC which was contrary to their released results. They threatened mayhem and bedlam if another “rigged” result was announced. The celebration by the _Obidients_ was short-lived, for soon enough, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, addressed the Nation at 7am.
In his address, he discloses that only about 40% of registered voters had cast their votes the previous day. This is higher than in 2019 when only 31% of registered voters voted. The INEC Chairman has declared the Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, as the winner of the Presidential Election 2023 with a total of 18,721,167 popular votes, which was 52.3% of total votes and won in 19 states and the FCT.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC, came second with 15,692,950 popular votes being 30% of total votes cast and won in ten states. Peter Obi of the Labour Party has scored 9,367,481 popular votes, and scored 18% of total votes cast and won in six states. This is the final verdict having the imprimatur of the INEC Chairman.
In Jagaban’s Campaign Headquarters, there is deep silence and mourning. The people are whispering and urging his doctor and his wife to wake him up to address his supporters on the next line of action. He had been sedated earlier, to calm him and curb his propensity to tantrums and bellicosity. After more than 15 minutes argument with his wife and doctor, the Jagaban agrees to address the press. Many of his supporters are gathered in his situation room at Maitama Abuja, where he has spent the last 24 hours, sleepless, monitoring the Presidential Election and its results.
The supporters were caps bearing his insignia of snake devouring its tail, a cultic symbol of infinity. The defeat highlights the irony of the infinity, as cyclical failure.
The Jagaban is assisted to the podium and as he faces the barrage of microphones and cameras from different news outlets; the nation holds its breath. He had declared at the beginning of his ambition that the nation owed him his life ambition to be President. He had announced that it was his turn now, “Emi lokan”, no matter whose ox was gored. Nigerians now wait in trepidation and hope that he would do the right thing telling his supporters that Nigerians have spoken.
But the Jagaban does no such thing. He looks left and right, then stares ominously into the cameras and microphones. He coughs in his clenches fist and says: “Tell Buhari he has done his worst. I don’t forgive traitors. Tell the hackers from Russia they are refuse dumps. It is my turn. ‘Emi lokan, Emi lokan’. It is my money”.
He glowers at his aides and yells, “Tell all my supporters this revolution has just started”. He defiantly walks past his wife, and his running-mate, and intentionally pushes away his Campaign Director General. He slowly, ambles away like an enormous crocodile that has been denied its meal. With his head held high and his eyes blazing like hot embers, the Jagaban mutters, in murderous rage, to himself: “It’s a Revolution”. It is at this point that his security guards escort him to his campaign war-room.
At Atiku Abubakar’s Campaign Headquarters, (AACO) scores of thousands of supporters have taken over the building and the adjoining streets in Wuse II, Abuja. Different bands are blaring Atikulated and Okowalated songs. Atiku Abubakar’s face is passive, enigmatic, and bland. His age-old emotional shock-absorbers have kicked in to prevent the exultant emotions from overflowing, even at triumphant moment of sweet victory. He becomes excited when Peter Obi calls to concede defeat and offer his congratulations. He welcomes him as a long-lost brother, saying: “My brother this victory is also your victory. It is Nigeria’s victory my brother, it is time to rebuild the nation”.
Senator Bukola Saraki, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal follow, as the PDP National Chairman, Sen. (Dr.) Iyorchia Ayu, leads the president-elect to the 5th floor, of the Command and Control Centre, which had been set up in anticipation of this victory acceptance speech.
The World Media awaits with intensity, to hear this acceptance speech of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. It is the moment the world has waited for. The return of the PDP in a free election in Nigeria, is proof of the stability and elasticity of Nigeria’s democracy when the ruling party is defeated again. The world sees a rejuvenated Atiku, confident and smiling now. He says, in a presidential voice, he owes his victory to God Almighty, and thanks all the Nigerian voters who had turned up in an unprecedented manner to exercise their civic rights. He especially thanks those who voted for the other candidates.
He promises them that he would also be their president. It is time now to heal the wounds of division and to build the bridges of Nigeria’s diversity. He thanks his fellow contestants and tells the world that the problems of the country are such that no individual, nor party has all the solutions. He is going to run a government of National Unity, where there will be political inclusiveness. “Winner takes all has been Un-African and undemocratic,” he assures.
He acknowledges the telephone call from Peter Obi, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the other presidential candidates. He thanks his Campaign Council and promises the nation that his victory is the new beginning Nigerians have been waiting for and that he would not fail them. He also thanks President Buhari whom he called “the father of Electoral Integrity in Nigeria” and calls on history to be kind to him for his legacy in electoral reforms.
Outside on the streets in Lagos, Osun, and Imo states, INEC offices are up in flames as thousands of demonstrators set up barricades and armed bandits take over; looting, maiming and instilling fear in the citizenry, with sinister cries of “Revolution”. Nigerians are afraid. Politicians disguise themselves and frantically begin to explore exit routes to just anywhere else! Nigerians stay in their homes, throughout 26th February. There is fear everywhere.
It is now the turn of President Buhari to address the nation. He makes a passionate plea to the candidates to call their supporters to order. He says, “elections are not wars” and that “no person’s ambition is worth anybody’s life”. He consequently orders the military to clear the streets, and end the destruction of life and property.
He calls on the governors to impose curfews in those states where violence has broken out. The President pleads with Nigerians, especially those that did not win, to accept the rules of the game, and the verdict of INEC. The military pulls out its tanks into the streets as evening wears out. Sirens and gunfire are heard as the “day after” comes to an end. END OF SCENARIO.
The above scenario, painted on the backdrop of qualitative futuristic canvas, is perhaps the best prediction of the coming Presidential Election. It is the most consequential election that Nigerians will hold, to pull their country from eight years of APC misrule when all NIgeria’s fault lines, became wide cracks, and threatened to suck us into our worst national fear.
All Nigerians are afraid that their country might become a critically failed state, a giant Afghanistan in the centre of Africa. If the Jagaban wins instead of Atiku, Nigeria’s religious divide will become an open chasm. Just like the Kaduna Muslim-Muslim experiment has been an open wound of terrorism and religious extremism, a Jagaban President will, people fear, become the gloating of Islam over Christianity, and the Nigerian exceptionalism in managing the delicate balance between Christianity and Islam would be lost forever.
A full scale religious war would be expected such as John Campbell had earlier predicted in 2011. If the Jagaban wins, the lopsided electoral votes of the South-West and North-West, would now become a permanent relay of power as one North-Western Zone President would deftly hand over to the South-Western Zone President. All other four zones would be excluded in the bare-faced disregard of the zones created specifically for power sharing.
A Jagaban victory would be a dreadful and grotesque power grab of money politics that is blind to disability, incapacity and shameful character flaws. The Jagaban phenomenon represents the emergence of a demagogue, whose politics is a horrific politician’s politics, where power is privatized and appropriated to serve private interests. Electing the Jagaban, is to elect the Nigerian version of a doting Paul Biya, where arbitrary power is exercised by a corrupt coterie, and democracy is lost forever! Atiku Abubakar’s victory on the other hand should be regarded as victory for Nigeria and the reality of zoning. There is justice and equity in the North-East zone producing the next president.
The South-East should be expectant next. It is unhelpful when sabre-rattling governors talk about the North-South dichotomy and cry about equity and justice. They are merely being self-serving within their convoluted colonial mentality. Equity is no longer a matter of North and South. It is zonal, where power is zoned rotated among the six geographical and political zones. With all the mud, dung, and grime that had been flung at Atiku Abubakar during the campaign period by opponents, it is my hope that Nigerians will now see the real Atiku, as an underprivileged peasant boy, whose grass to grace story, inspires the next great Nigerian generation.
Atiku as Vice-President and consummate politician has capacity, ability and vision deserving of victory. With Atiku as President we can advance democratic multi-culturalism to confront sectarian fundamentalism, because he is cosmopolitan and not a hero of locality nor ethnic bigot.
The PDP through Atiku has learnt its lesson. It is not seeking to conquer power as the APC, but rather to transform it to give the citizens rights that the APC government eroded and left Nigerians, poorer, uneducated, unprotected, afraid, and deeply insecure.Atiku is well aware that politics is for the strong, who must endure stupid criticism, and judgment from very annoying characters like the corruption embattered former Minister of Aviation, and some disgruntled governors within his party.
He is under-girded with a solid stoic personality, whose mien is unperturbed by stupid things, silly things, aggressive things of people’s perceptions of him. This is the time! This is his time! Finally, Atiku must engage in serious nation building, manage change, and the constantly changing Nigerian environment. He must intentionally seek better ways of making Nigeria great by advancing growth, equity, inclusiveness, peace, compassion and integrity.
Prof Amb Iyorwuese Hagher, Nigeria’s Former High Commissioner to Canada sent this contribution from Abuja.
2023 General Elections: A Call for Peace
By Oko Pascal Adinya
As we enter the month of February, 2023, which kick starts the general elections, it is imperative we discuss, highlight and tackle the need for all active and passive players to play the game by the rules and by the books. Apparently the country is saturated and charged with heavy political activities and frenzy.
Of this first categories, the various political parties that have sponsored candidates into various elective offices. There is every need for the political parties to educate their members on the need to practice politics without bitterness.
Political jingles should be devoid of insults and inciting comments.Just as the language at political campaigns should emphasize on the programs of the political parties and not invectives on other candidates or parties.
The deliberate efforts of political parties to guide their members towards peace and decent campaigns is an imperative for a peaceful and credible elections. Where deliberate falsehood is spewed at political campaigns in order to incite it’s members, the seed of discord is sown and danger looms.
Conscious and deliberate efforts must be made by political parties as custodians of the candidates to propagate a message of peace and tolerance. Ugly incidents like destruction of opponents’ bill boards, attack on opponent offices should be seriously discouraged.
The Second players in the peaceful conduct of election and the aftermath is the Electorates. This is the bride that is being courted now by political parties. It is a good political culture to listen to different candidates so one can make a choice depending on the conviction a candidate can make.
It is however very bad and a dangerous political behavior where the electorate is induced via vote buying and other overt enticement. The Electorates can invigorate the polity by asking questions of how a candidate can make good a bad situation affecting them.
The answers and how these challenges can be surmounted by a candidate is of far better outcome than a succumb to vote buying. This trend should be rejected out rightly.
INEC is the third and most important player in the electioneering process. The Independent National Election Commission is the agency that midwives elections in Nigeria. The actions and inactions of INEC is by far of much more consequences than anyone.
The INEC officials from it’s headquarters to the states, the Local Governments and as adhoc staff must be above board in their conduct for peaceful elections to occur. The transparent activities of the Commission will be veritable confidence building before, during and after the elections. Where it is apparent that
an election has been won or lost fair and square, there is less acrimony, less misgivings and no violence. The sanctity of fairness, equality and equity by INEC to all political parties cannot be overemphasized.
The management of the entire elections, from the electoral materials, the BVAS, the collation and announcement of results is very crucial and very serious business. INEC will make the work of everyone very much easier and simpler where they display a responsible tendency of an unbiased umpire. Needless to say that in the face of fairness, the heart losses the steam of mischief.
The 2023 electoral Act which has visible imprints of INEC should be adhered to strictly and religiously. It is through this Law that the role of all participants in the elections are spelt out and determined. It is also through this Law that infractions, (if any) during the elections, will be put to test by the judiciary.
The various innovative provisions in the 2023 Electoral Act has engendered wide spread conviction in the political parties and the Electorates alike that votes will count. It is my firm belief and desire that this hope is not dashed.
The Security Agents are the fourth key players in the general elections. This is primarily the duty of the Police. But it is not disputed that several other sister agencies are drafted to assist the Police, either to complement their efforts or offer far more complex intelligence to nip in the bud any untoward incident before, during and after the elections. The DSS in the last few months of Political activity have fashioned a template for political to operate without collision.
The details allocating venue and ensuring there is no conflict of two parties or more being in one town at the same time. These efforts need be applauded. The Army which naturally should not be involved in a process of this nature, must be involved because of the peculiarity of our security situation.
The Paramount concern however is the need and indeed the imperative that all security agencies give security by and within the purview of neutrality. There is absolutely no need to side one party against the other when it is the duty of security agents to secure and protect all.
Sadly our security agents are not appreciated by our citizenry in a tedious efforts at providing a level playing field. Most times bad elements that are prevented from mischief turn round to accuse security agents of bias. Citizens should be encouraged to assist our security agents in making elections violent free. Report that which is wrong. The best security is that in which everyone is a watch dog.
The arbiter and fifth player in the forth coming 2023 general elections is the judiciary It is said this is the last hope of the common man. This prisms connotes that justice is not for the rich only, but for all. By the provisions of the Law, all electoral disputes are to be settled by the courts.
The neutrality and fairness in the judicial process will go a long way in dousing tension, engendering peace after the election is won and lost. The sensitivity of the role of the Judiciary on the outcome elections is enormous.
This much could be gleamed from the admonition of President of the Court of Appeals Hon. Justice Monica Dongba-Mensem on all judicial staff assigned to handle Election petitions at various levels. The need to adhere to the official oath of secrecy in matters of judicial process is very important.
To divulge privilege information which has no basis of influencing the outcome of an election petition in no way could create unnecessary doubt and tension. Such privileged information as to a when a tribunal will deliver judgment in an election matter if irresponsibly diverged could lead to doubts, even where such information have no bearing at all on the outcome of the ratio decidendi/ reasoning of the Judges in the judgment to be delivered. Conduct of our Judges, Registers, and all their support staff need be above board like Ceaser’s wife. Needless to State that this is a necessary the tools of building confidence in the judicial system, and also paving way for peace. This article cannot be concluded without highlighting the fortuitous presentation of political actors in the 2023 general elections.
The contest is not between South and North or between East and West. The electorate is presented with qualified and able candidates from all of the regions. Most fortunate for Nigeria as a country, our electoral law provide for wide spread of percentage votes acquired to be declared as a winner- be it at the Presidential or Gubernatorial levels. In all, it is about all Nigerians and each region counts! We must first of all have a country before we have elections. And even after the elections, we as citizens, must of course imbibe peace, unity and cohesion before meaningful development and prosperity can be attained.
Oko Pascal Adinya Esq is a Public Affairs commentator. He writes from Makurdi.
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