Comment| Nigeria- How to get away with electoral fraud

Man holds poster in Nigeria. Photo: BBC/Twitter


This thing called Nigeria. As a Nigerian resident abroad, I tend to always pretend that matters of internal issues in Nigeria are none of my business. I evade news from my country of origin as if listening to it would prick me like cactus spikes and this makes me a coward- I know. But at least it makes me a sane one. Once upon a time, I was very pro Nigeria and it almost drove me crazy. I remember my family and friends used to laugh at me because I would defend my country no matter what nonsense our politicians were getting away with at the time. I believed in Nigeria and I sincerely believed that ours was the generation that would bring the change so desperately needed by the country.

Why I changed my mind and became a sceptic is a story for another day. Today, what’s got our tails wagging is the postponement of Nigeria’s presidential elections, or what I think is more aptly described as ‘how to get away with electoral fraud’.

If you actually believe that the elections have been postponed because of security concerns over the Boko Haram insurgency in the north,‘ then you’re just as naive as I was a few years ago, when I was still a believer in Nigeria.

What’s happened is very sad indeed. We grossly underestimated the power and determination of the ruling party PDP. For weeks, they had been putting gentle pressure on the electoral body INEC to postpone the election. Reasons cited at the time were the commission’s lack of preparedness, some potential voters had not received their PVC’s and so on. The powers that be in PDP were trying to pin a postponement on INEC and trying to make it look like the body was to blame, but Attahiru Jega, INEC’s chairman was having none of that, thank you very much.

I actually feel sorry for Jega in this whole mess, because he’s the scapegoat of  an incumbent president, desperately attempting to hang on to power at all costs. When the pressure and accusations from the PDP didn’t fetch the desired results, they resorted to threats. Queue in the office of national security (ooh, scary!) who promptly dispatched a letter to INEC informing them that they wouldn’t or couldn’t guarantee anyone’s security should the elections go ahead on the 14th of February, because as you all well know, those bastards called Boko Haram were still wrecking havoc in the north. Something they’ve only been doing for the past 6 years or so.

I would give anything to be a fly on a wall during that tense meeting with Jega and ‘stakeholders’ after which he decided to heed the calls of the PDP and postpone the elections. Jega may have been boxed into a corner, but he wasn’t going to let his commission hang for something that wasn’t his idea. The clue as to why exactly the elections were postponed lies in his statement to the press on Saturday night.

He effectively blamed the security agencies and not INEC for this travesty that has been foisted upon Nigerians in the form of postponement of our right to vote for whomsoever we choose.

“Whatever the commission does may not be sufficient to guarantee the success of elections. There are others like security which is not under the control of INEC,” Jega told the hungry press who were promptly fed snacks after sitting and waiting for hours to hear the outcome of the meetings.

He continued, “On Thursday, February 5, I was invited to brief the Council of State on the level of preparedness to conduct the elections. I have detailed account of what the commission had been doing for the readiness of the elections.”

“The summary of my presentation was that for matters under the control of INEC, the commission was ready for the elections despite the challenges of PVCs and we have been doing all we could do for that.”

And here is the clincher, “But there are other variables that are not under the control of INEC, which is security. While the commission has a good relationship with security agencies, it has become necessary for us to listen to the advice of the security agencies. We are an electoral body not a security agency. We rely on them to provide security for us.”

And there you have it folks. Nigerians have been stitched up by Jonathan’s boys at the national security agency. The same agency that has failed to tackle Boko Haram for over 6 years, but now insists it needs only 6 weeks, 6 weeks to bring Shekau and his animals under control. Goodluck to that.

While the opposition APC (of whom PDP is actually so terrified of, they are willing to postpone the elections) cried foul, PDP officials including the shameless Femi Fani Kayode were grinning from ear to ear, applauding the decision to postpone the elections.

Nigerians on their part took the decision with complacency deserving of applause. I can think of fewer places in the world where such action by the government to interfere so brazenly with the electoral process would have been met with such calm. I’m not asking for people to go and start looting and destroying properties, all I’m saying is that we shouldn’t be so nice about things like this. We shouldn’t just accept it and make jokes about how we can now enjoy Valentine’s Day since the elections have been moved.

Our inability to question and investigate and then act is what leads Nigerian politicians to believe that they can tramp all over us and dictate our destiny, because they know that we will do NOTHING about it.

I didn’t want to get involved in this whole election thing from the start because I do not for a second believe that either Goodluck Jonathan or General Muhammadu Buhari can bring the change that Nigeria needs, but that’s just my opinion. The people of Nigeria still deserve the right to decide whom they want to be their next president. Not politicians, and certainly not the incumbent who despite being an absolute failure still wants to remain in power.

We haven’t realised it yet, but this may be June 12, 1993 all over again. The PDP is scared of loosing power and we all know what happened the last time an incumbent got cold feet when it was time to go.

Rant over.

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