Sunday, April 24, 2011

Random thoughts on our 'freest' election in 12 years

Last Friday, I read media reports* that the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) finally found its voice to comment on the outcome of the April 16 Presidential elections. The detailed news report is reproduced at the end of this my opinion.

If we eschew sentiments, we will see the sense in the analysis by ACN. But it is not amusing that they kept quiet until now that it seems the PDP rigging machine is set on being operated too close to its (ACN's) home, Lagos. They must be remembering how they (then as AD) were trumped (outrigged) by the PDP in 2003 in the South West.

How true the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller that: "First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

I believe that Jonathan would still have won the election, but his party, PDP and those who make things happen in his political structure could not leave things to chances. That remains the worry of some of us when others keep telling us "Goodluck is a good man". Yes, he may be, but can we say the same about those who surround, influence and control him? I am beginning to fear that we may be getting to the 1979-1983 era when we had the “good man” Pres. Shehu Shagari, surrounded in the ruling NPN by the kind of crowd we see now in the ruling PDP.

Unfortunately, matters are not helped by the fact that CPC supporters went so violently wild and bestial that even some of us who hitherto had sympathy for Buhari now cringe. Nor can we claim ignorance of the fact that the other parties also cheated. I still recall the scenes of under-aged voters in CPC's strongholds.

I have been 'battling' friends at different levels about the high level of ignorance and divisiveness being propagated on the social media networks and text messages before and after the elections. On one occasion, I told folks that this is what led to post-election violence in Kenya in 2007. That was on Sunday and the violence here erupted soon after.

A few days ago, I again wrote this response to a friend who replied my previous mail:

We live for the NOW in Nigeria...

And living for the NOW means that everyone must run to the winning team to pledge loyalty and be guaranteed a space. If that has not started yet, soon we would be seeing all sorts of idiotic congratulatory messages in the media and various groups struggling to go and congratulate the president for his 'resounding victory', 'God-ordained mandate' and 'pan-Nigerian mandate' etc. And if you sound a note of caution, they will say you are sulking, that you should give the man a chance and all that blah.

Already, old man Gov. Murtala Nyako led a delegation from his state, Adamawa, to the presidential villa as the first of such delegations. Last week also, I watched Channels TV and saw the Nigerians who were in the Presidential Villa with the president when the final result was announced. Solomon Lar reminded Channels TV that he was the very first Nigerian to tell us that Jonathan will win the election in the first ballot. Even our old men cannot rise above sycophancy right?


*What the news report said

2011 Presidential Poll Most Systematically Rigged - ACN

THEWILL. 21/04/2011 16:51:00

ABUJA, April 21, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described last Saturday's presidential election as the most systematically rigged election in Nigeria's history, and warned against any attempt to repeat such malfeasance in Tuesday's governorship/state assembly poll.

''The PDP has been boasting that it will clinch the governorship election in Lagos and elsewhere on the strength of the result of the presidential election, but we must warn strongly that a repeat of the crooked strategy that spewed out those cooked figures will have consequences that no one has yet imagined,'' the party said in a statement issued in Ilorin on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

It said the plan by the PDP is to massively rig the governorship and state assembly election, especially in areas where President Goodluck Jonathan scored victories, so as to give the world the impression that the result of the presidential election was not a fluke.

''President Jonathan should call his dogs of war at the PDP to order, so that they will not push their luck by attempting to thwart the will of the people any more than they have already done, with the grim consequences that we all can now see,'' the party said.

ACN said the PDP simply stole more than enough for the owner to see during last Saturday's presidential election, forgetting that if anyone thinks he/she knows how to hide things, others also know how to find them.

''What the PDP did last Saturday was simple: They colluded with security agents and INEC officials to cook figures which have now turned out to be their undoing, because the cooking was not intelligently carried out.

''An analysis of the results put out by INEC itself has shown a troubling pattern of clear manipulation. Everywhere the PDP perceived it was strong, it came out with incredibly high numbers of voter in his favour. Conversely, anywhere the opposition was perceived to be strong, the opposition`s margin of victory was unreasonably low.

''A few examples will suffice: In the South-South and South-East, where President Jonathan is believed to have strong support, the average turnout was 67% each of registered voters, compared to 32% for the South-West where he is believed to have a strong opposition. In the North-West and North-East, which is considered a bastion of opposition in the north, the average turnout of registered voters was 54%.

''And whereas high voter turnout was recorded in states perceived to be sympathetic to President Jonathan in the different geopolitical zones (Bayelsa in South-South 85%, Imo in South-East 84%, and Plateau in North-Central (62%), the opposite was the case for areas where the opposition, was believed to be strong. Even in Katsina, Buhari's hometown, the turnout was a paltry 52%! Ditto for Kano (53%); Sokoto (40%) and Zamfara (51%).

''It is also instructive that even though Edo state is in the South-South, the turnout was only 37%, apparently since the state was not believed - by the figure cooks - to be sympathetic to President Jonathan, being controlled by the ACN. The turnout figures for the South-West are also revealing: Lagos (31.8%); Ogun (28%); Osun (39%) and Oyo (33%).

Also, while the margin of victory for the PDP in the South-South is 98% and for the South-East 98.9%, the highest margin of victory for the CPC in the North-West, where Buhari comes from, is 55.8%,'' ACN said

The party said when the ballot papers are subjected to forensic analysis, as they definitely will, the world will realise that what appeared to be free and fair election at the polling units was a mere fa├žade.

It slammed the election observers for rushing to tell the world that the whole election process was free, fair and credible, whereas they were busy playing to the gallery in urban centres while the PDP colluded with INEC and security officials in the hinterland to concoct figures that are only real in their imagination.

''We wonder if those who have been rushing to congratulate President Jonathan would still do so if they are aware of the analysis to which the election figures has been subjected. We hope they are not acting more out of their concern for the continuous flow of the black gold than for the growth of genuine democracy in Nigeria,'' ACN said.