By Willie Amadi.
The much-awaited 2023 elections have come and gone with it’s happiness and sorrow. With the belief and disbelief in the existence of God. But in all these, the Bible admonished us to thank God. So, we thank God for everything.
For students of political history, the various “INEC and IREV” results as variously announced and declared is just the first step to real or pyrrhic victory. It is the first round of a four -round tournament. The first being the election. The second being the tribunal. The third being the court of appeal and the fourth and final being the Supreme Court of Nigeria depending on the office contested by the “Victor or Vanquished”.
However, to safeguard possible abuses, human error and or conscious manipulations, the outgoing administration with the National Assembly made strenuous efforts to amend the Electoral Act and finally inserted some beautiful safeguards against the tendencies of human intervention as witnessed in the last 2023 elections which was the norm pre- BIVA and IReV era. The major safeguard which was the introduction of BIVA AND IReV technologies to ensure and report accurate accreditation, transmission of results from the polling units and online real time viewing portal of the results before heading to the final collation at the dreaded local government headquarters which serves as the mathematical centre where mandates are arrested and redirected in a gestapo style.
Regrettably, those beautiful safeguards were consciously sabotaged by the same INEC in conjunction with State actors by compromising the vulnerable youth coppers and teachers who are at the lowest economic survival index with offers they cannot refuse in the face of abject poverty. This is akin to the 2019 set of House of Assembly members in the country who voted against themselves for their autonomy during the constitutional review process of the National Assembly last year. The various Houses of Assembly in majority of the States in unison agreed not to free themselves from the clutches of the executive branch to become autonomous. Curiously voting in favour of their autonomy would have given them financial independence and political freedom from the control of the executive branch and also against the Governors who traditionally nominates Speakers of the House as their pets and leader of the House. A case of cutting one’s nose to spite his face. This is so sad, despicable and dishonourable to say the least.
However, in this electoral quagmire we find ourselves, what do we do to move the country forward?
Many schools of thoughts abound, namely, take to the streets. Go to court. Pray to God etc, etc. Obviously, I am of the second school of thought not because I am a lawyer but as a ME because my life has been a product of due process to either success or failure and I make provisions for the consequences of my actions because it forms part of my life and daily lifestyle.
My greatest fear however is whether this second school of thought will ameliorate the pains and disappointments of the fraudulent outcome of the 2023 elections in Nigeria described by local and international observers as a crime scene owing to the brazen and reckless institutional compromise of and by INEC the official enforcer of the Amended Electoral Act and the rules set unfortunately by the compromised umpire. Your guess is as good as mine but nevertheless let us continue to talk the talk and provoke the thoughts.
It was obvious that the BIVA machine like any other electronic device without human manipulation in some states and local governments experienced little technical glitches and delayed but nevertheless eventually uploaded however unknown to the temporary beneficiaries. The IReV platform has since uploaded all the real results which were uploaded in the presence of the voters and this finally tallied with the hard copy results of the commission’s form EC8A issued to party agents and security officials present. Under the Act where the accreditation information and snapped and uploaded results in both the BIVA, IREV AND EC8A tallies it is legally deemed and accepted as the authentic correct result and a reflection and confirmation of the people’s mandate for that election. Anything to the contrary will not be accepted as the authentic and valid result of the people’s mandate during litigations.
Having said the above, it is unbelievably sad to witness unprecedented snatching of stuffed ballot boxes across the country and foolish allocation of figures above number of accredited voters in the polling units to purported winners of candidates of political parties in most States particularly States where the Governors are in-charge of the local government headquarters except in Kano where power of incumbency bowed to people’s reinforced will power and perhaps Abia State where collations was suspended by a God fearing woman who defied monetary inducements and orders from the INEC Chairman himself to betray the people’s trust and mandate. By divine intervention the collation and the BIVA and IREV were reviewed and the due process was enforced at least leading to the victory of Alex Oti.
Today the survival of democracy and the country itself is opaque, vulnerable and inflammable. The youths are inwardly and suffocatingly aggrieved and enraged. They are time bombs. The elderly are speechless and afraid of the unknown. The losers are in deep shock and the winners unable to celebrate their “victory”. So where do we go from here?
The second option unfortunately seems to be the only reasonable way to go but will the outcome be better than where we are coming from judging by the recent sick judicial decisions and rascality exhibited by the apex court today as the last hope of both the rich and common man?
Regrettably, in the olden days the court was the last hope of only the common man for finding justice. Many years ago, a magistrate is respected like a cannon in the church. A judge is feared like God. A Chief Judge of the High Court or a Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria is hardly seen or heard anywhere except in court and church.
They commanded both respect and fear. Justice in their courts was a judgment from God in heaven passed down to earth through them for litigants and defendants who both leave the court feeling satisfied with the judgment as fair, just and the will of God and not man. So can someone please tell us what the situation and or cost of justice is today?
I did reflect in my previous write up that the greatest and final shock Nigerians will go through is the pronouncements of the tribunal, the court of Appeal and particularly the Supreme Court in these
election petition matters and more particularly in the presidential election now before them. This is the constituency where the real voting and announcement will take place and final declarations made thereby making INEC declarations across the country provisional. A lot of winners will become losers and the losers will become the winners according to depth of their pockets and power interchange.
It is really at those hallowed chambers of justice or injustice that the BIVA and IReV functions will be upheld or ignored. It is at these chambers that the local government council headquarters collation which has become the surgery centre for all results sheets coming from the polling units or the privately arranged result sheets from Resident electoral commissioners will either be confirmed as real results or not.
Interestingly but unfortunately in organised climes and civilised countries, it is these courts and men of impeccable strength of character that will wait patiently and detonate the brutish enforcement of electoral fraud and criminality by State actors using security agencies against the very citizens and process they were paid to protect rather fruitless. It is before them that our hungry teachers and lecturers who are being owed salaries and allowances for months and have being compromised with N100,000 with a a few additional dollars as we witnessed across the country to re-write the real results and declare losers as winners are either proved wrong or right.
Haplessly and helplessly, it is at this crossroads that we as a people must kneel and ask God to send down his Holy Spirit to touch the hearts and arrest the conscience of the election petition electoral panel members at all levels and prove that there is indeed a living God. Anything short of an imminent judicial rejection and revolution against the electoral dictatorship by INEC under Prof Mahmoud and the State actors will undoubtedly drive Nigeria thirty years backwards, leaving a dangerously fragile and fragmented society where our children and leaders of tomorrow will adopt the criminality painfully experienced in the 2023 election as a new culture and paradigm shift for the brazenly organised electoral crime.
Can the courts still be the LAST HOPE OF THE COMMON MAN AGAIN?
I say YES because IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO CORRECT A MISTAKE.
- Let INEC OFFICES in each State replace and serve as the LGA collation centre as the Local Government Council premises are under the tight control of the government in power where alterations are made during Ward collation without any restrictions whatsoever since agents of other political parties are never allowed into the Council premises not to talk of the collation Hall.
- Announcement of results at the polling units should also be covered with video and photographs by other presiding officers at the polling units.
- The range and serial numbers of result sheets to States for various office contested should be published at INEC Head Office in the morning of the election to prevent extra result sheets being illegally made available to third parties and State actors to write fake results.
- The specimen signatures of Ward returning officers and party agents ahead of the elections should also be published at INEC offices on the day of election to prevent impersonation and also aiding forgery using the new result sheets from third parties.
- Let religious clerics replace university lecturers and secondary school teachers as returning officers to the HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, GOVERNORSHIP and PRESIDENTIAL elections in future.