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By Odoh Michael
The 2019 presidential elections may have come and gone, but the effects will be felt in Nigeria for a very long time. Apart from the 2007 general elections, the 2019 presidential election is presently regarded as the worst in the nation’s history by a lot of Nigerians. The question on the mind of majority of Nigerians is, how can an electoral process that witnessed the highest amount of voter registration with over 80m registered voters, voters card collection with nearly 73 million eligible voters and an election that was predicted to be the biggest in Africa’s history witness the lowest turnout in our nation’s electoral history according to data from INEC. Turnout was just above 35 per cent of eligible voters.
I am forced to ask, how can an election that recorded the highest number of first time voters now be seen as having the lowest turnout of voters in the nation’s history? From my perspective, it is either INEC did not disclose the original results of the election in other to favour the winner of the election or Nigerians are fed up with the country. But how true can this be when the nation saw an increase in voter awareness, more persons registered to vote and more voters’ card were collected. All available evidence is clearly pointing to the fact that the results of the elections were doctored in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. How can Yobe state, a state that is facing serious security challenges, a state where the governor was not even allowed to vote due to security issues experience a high voter turnout over Enugu State, a state without security issues? Does it mean that despite the serious security challenges facing Yobe State and many other states with security challenges, the INEC voter’s education directorate did more in the face of these numerous security challenges in these states and did less in places that enjoy a more peaceful environment? Well, I will leave these questions to Prof Yakubu Mahmood to answer as he alone can provide credible answers to them.
The governorship and state house of assembly election proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Nigerians have lost hope with the electoral umpire. Turnout, when officially confirmed, is likely to be the lowest in our nation’s history. But did we expect any thing different after the sham presidential election on February 23? Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar after casting his vote last Saturday, noted that he is concerned, like millions that his vote may likely not count. A picture that has since gone viral on social media shows a ballot paper for the governorship election with a write-up by a voter: “Fuck INEC, just rig”.
When a people’s mandate is stolen, it is bound to have repercussions and the 9th of March, 2019 governorship election is the beginning of such for Nigeria. The fastest way to destroy a democratic process is to make the people lose faith in its electoral process and INEC under the leadership of Prof Mahmood Yakubu has clearly done this. Nigerians no longer have faith in its electoral process, and this is bad for a country trying to build its democratic institutions. In most states, especially in the FCT, unlike the presidential election that witnessed a huge turnout of voters, most polling units were empty with no voter in sight many hours after INEC officials arrived with voting materials. The big question begging for answer is, “Could this be the end of Nigeria’s democracy?” Only time and the judiciary will tell.
The Presidential election has only succeeded in dividing Nigeria along ethnic lines the more, the Igbos are crying persecution and just recently, a serving senator and wife of the national leader of the APC, Remi Tinubu was caught on camera telling a disabled Igbo man that those of his ethnic group cannot be trusted. What is democracy if I cannot be allowed to vote for who I want? The 2019 general elections conducted by Prof Mahmood Yakubu’s led INEC will be remembered for further dividing the country rather than uniting it.
With the court of appeal granting the PDP’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar his request to be giving access to the materials used for the presidential elections, it is surprising that the court will turn down Atiku’s request to engage forensic experts to check for multiple thumb printing claiming that the Electoral Act does not give provision for such when the Act allowed Rauf Aregbeshola to use same in 2007 and Kayode Fayemi just last year. Do we have different electoral Acts for the state and for the federal?
Justice must not only be said to be done, it must be seen to be done and that is what the judiciary must do. Nigeria is standing on a time bomb and members of judiciary must put aside all forms of personal interests to save our nation. This is not about Buhari or Atiku; it is about the survival of our nation. If things are allowed to go the way they are, we may not have a Nigeria in 2023.
* Odoh Michael, media consultant and public affairs analyst wrote from Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org