Posted by News Express | 9 November 2019 | 712 times
It was spontaneous and swift! Some say it was already a spawn out of the book, what people call the elephant in the room came here. The apex court of the nation, The Supreme Court, has already finally tusked away the seven appeal points of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, in the 2019 general elections against the declared winner, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), declaring it as lacking merit. The appeal stemmed from the judgment of the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal some weeks back. It was a seven-man panel led by the Chief Justice of the Federation himself, Tanko Ibrahim Muhammed. The panel unanimously dismissed the appeal.
The Supreme Court is yet to release the basis of its judgment, promising it shall be announced on a yet to be announced date. As we wait to see what is legally referred as the ratio decidendi, that is, reason for the decision, I remember the popular saying, “The Supreme Court is final not because it is infallible but because it is final.” Atiku Abubakar was swift in releasing a statement where he hailed himself as “having fought a good fight for Nigerian democracy, and he remains a democrat.” What he means by remaining a democrat is a big question ahead of the next general elections in 2023, specifically his next political move. Will he retire from politics after four failed attempts? He is the most notorious political jumpologist Nigeria or maybe the world has ever had. Every general election, he is with a new political party, everyone knows Atiku never gives up. Our fingers are crossed on how that pans out.
The All Progressives Congress was fangs out and it’s not novel that the ruling party is not a magnanimous victor; calling out Atiku and the main opposition party, PDP; and definitely hailing the judiciary in what it called “siding with the people.” But what is the way forward with this landmark judgment that has in my view, done nothing to improve our electoral process?
The forward is that we need electoral reforms. It was crystal clear that the last general election was a setback in terms of our electoral process. For instance, that judgment puts in limbo what the position of the law really is in terms of educational qualification for public officers to contest elections in country. Let's set the records straight. Having a president or governor of a state whose minimum qualification is West African School Certificate (WASC) is mediocre for any nation that is really serious. Now, the interpretation of the supreme court, saying you don’t really need to have passed, nor have it in custody; but all you need is just to have been said to have gone through that process makes us world jokers. We cannot continue to have such, it is not tenable. Much as educational qualifications does not determine good governance, we must know that mediocrity should never be the hallmark of any people who strives to achieve excellence.
Also, on the issue of electronic voting and incorporation of this into our laws, President Buhari refused umpteenth occasions and opportunities to sign into law legislations aimed at introducing card-readers into our electoral process, legally citing flimsy reasons for his refusal of the proposal from the last National Assembly. Despite having a pliant legislature now as against the “rebel-led” 8th National Assembly, the narrative hasn’t changed. The President is a self-proclaimed reformer, but he lacks such attributes in terms of actions.
The way forward is that we take inventory of the last elections which remains as the most disputed general elections in the so-called Fourth Republic and move forward as a nation committed to democratisation and overhaul the flawed process of electioneering, which is the bedrock of the democratisation process.
Mr President, it is time to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill.
•Tasheyon writes from Lagos: Amosisaactobi@gmail.com
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