Posted by News Express | 19 February 2015 | 3,267 times
There is a joke I shared several years ago on this page of a lavish society wedding after which the couple retired home to commence their honeymoon. At bed time, as the man joined his wife and attempted to consummate the relationship, she withdrew from under the pillow a court injunction perpetually restraining the husband from claiming “all his entitlements”. What made the “report” believable, as I said at the time, was that the said injunction was obtained from a court in Abuja, a city notorious for breeding judges for whom “justice” is a commodity that can be traded even on the stock exchange.
The point here is that the judiciary is becoming a source of concern, especially in this election season, and there are undercurrents to suggest that some judges in Abuja are being primed to game the process. It is perhaps for that reason that the recent admonition by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, is instructive. He said: “Let me use this opportunity to sound a note of warning to all judicial officers. Do not allow any political party or politician to compromise your integrity or your future. We must never again be used as tools to truncate our nation’s democracy.”
Certain things going on within the polity today remind us all of the orchestrated June 12, 1993 presidential election fiasco. One, there is a growing perception, as it was in the past, that the only way to get an incumbent out of power in Nigeria is through some form of negotiated exit, however unpopular such a leader may be. Two, there is currently a widespread but dangerous narrative that the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan can only win the rescheduled election by rigging. So even if he secures more votes than his main opponent, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), in a credible process, the result would be disputed by those who have made up their minds that “Buhari has already won.”
Three, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has alleged that the president is determined to win the election by “hook or crook” or in the alternative, “go for broke” by scuttling the entire democratic process. Four, by counter-alleging that “Obasanjo’s plot with others inside and outside the country to thwart the general elections and foist an unconstitutional Interim National Government, which he hopes to head on the nation is well known to us”, the presidency has confirmed that rumours about ING are not totally unfounded. Five, a staff of a senior presidency official recently posted on a social media platform that if defeated, President Jonathan would rather hand over to the military than allow Buhari to take over power. Six, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has publicly stated that if it is “rigged out”, meaning if it loses the presidential election, the party would form a “parallel government”, an open invitation to anarchy.
Seven, and this is the critical point here, there are reports that some politicians and their agents are working the courts in Abuja to ensure either that the elections do not hold as rescheduled or that the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and Card Readers are not used, knowing that without them, it would be a matter of simply writing results with all the attendant consequences for the peace of Nigeria.
The sum total of the foregoing is that there are increasing signs that if care is not taken, our nation could be plunged into a serious crisis. That then explains why the next five weeks and two days (to the presidential election) have become crucial. The good bit though is that whatever anybody may say, this election is not being fought along, and would not be lost and won on the basis of, Nigeria’s traditional fault-lines. Indeed, what I find particularly interesting is that most of the people leading the political assault for the president are Northerners (and they are predominantly Muslims) while the political strategists around Buhari are from the South (and they are mostly Christians). The lesson here is simple: For the average Nigerian politician, whether from the North or from the South and regardless of the religion he/she professes, politics is more often about the pursuit of personal interests.
Now that a significant number of Nigerian prospective voters have been availed the opportunity to collect their PVCs, it is important for both the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition APC to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the bid to conduct credible elections. And that will not happen by clamouring to have INEC jettison the idea of using the PVCs and Card Readers or by embarking on a needless propaganda against the authorities, including President Jonathan. Neither is it in the interest of our country if those who once gleefully told Nigerians that the acronym for the name JEGA means Jonathan Ebele Goodluck Azikiwe continue to blackmail the INEC chairman with unfounded allegations.
While June 12 may mean different things to different people, what is not in doubt is that Nigerians paid an enormous price for the contrived and prolonged crisis that held back our country from peace and progress and for a long period divided our people. Therefore, for us to avoid going back down that unfortunate road, critical stakeholders must pay attention to Abuja courts. A word, as they say, is enough for the wise!
•This piece by Adeniyi (shown in photo) originally appeared in his column “The Verdict” in today’s edition of ThisDay. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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