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Free and Fair Elections: Yes We Can With Post-Election Violence in Wild, Wild North!

--Cutting-Edge Analytics--


By: Franklin Otorofani
Published April 23rd, 2011

The much anticipated Nigeria’s presidential election has come and gone just like its forerunner, the NASS election, and the nation can rightly beat her chest for having delivered on the promise of free, fair, and credible elections so far as it was within her powers and resources to do. While she did not walk away with particularly superlative grades, she nonetheless did give a “very good” account of herself in the conduct of the elections so far. And in this particular case, she did not disappoint the world in general and Africa in particular. With this she has earned the respect of the world. With this she has gained the moral high ground to breathe down the necks of sight tight leaders in Africa who undermine democracy. And with this she has acquired the moral authority to whip other nations into line on the African continent that make a mockery of democracy as was, for instance, in Laurent Gbago’s Ivory Coast, without any misgivings or anyone questioning her democratic credentials to correct others. And that is because she has earned those priceless democratic credentials in these elections as testified to by the African Election Observer mission led by no less a personage than ex-President John Kufuor of Ghana, the Commonwealth Election Observer mission, and other local and international election monitoring missions and groups.

There is no question that given Nigeria’s leadership role on the African continent and beyond, many African nations and indeed the larger world had looked up to her to provide the required leadership in the democratization of the continent. And that was the reason why the United States, Canada, and the EU got themselves involved. Unfortunately, she had been unable to do so for obvious reasons with the results that her international stature had somewhat suffered diminution. It would be recalled that these were the same groups that had condemned the 2007 presidential elections, which the opposition parties had seized on to harass ex-INEC chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu and eventually succeeded in hounding him out of office. This time around, however, they are singing a different tune in sonorous praise of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). And who am I to disagree with their assessment or counter their praises with a discordant tune when I’m not an ex-General Muhammadu Buhari suffering from delusions of grandeur? That is not my job, and I will, therefore, take them at their words, more so as the political parties and their candidates, both local and international media, and Nigerians themselves from all walks of life have both severally and collectively corroborated these findings.

Therefore, the certification of these elections by both local and international observers missions, and more importantly, by critical segments of the Nigerian society itself as meeting and indeed surpassing minimum standards of international best practices for the conduct of free and fair elections, has put paid to any lingering doubts about the ability and capacity of Nigeria to pull it off this time around. This has gone down as one of the most, if not the most keenly contested presidential elections in a long while since 1993, and the victory margin is quite decisive and comprehensive. The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, garnered 22, 495, 187 votes, as well as 25% of the votes in more than the 24 states as prescribed to meet the constitutional threshold of two thirds of all the states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Jonathan surpassed that constitutional threshold in scoring 25% and above in 31 states and the FCT, Abuja, to beat his closest rival and Congress for Progressive Change(CPC) candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, who polled a total of 12, 214, 853 votes and got 25% of the votes in just 15 out of the 36 states and the FCT, Abuja. He didn’t even come close to meeting either the constitutional threshold of scoring the highest number of votes much less the minimum of 25% of the votes in at least two thirds of all the states and the FCT, Abuja.

And as earlier forecast by this author and others, it turned out to be a bloodbath for Buhari particularly in the south rather than a stalemate as many had thought and the opposition had wished for in a runoff. It is remarkable that unlike Buhari who did not win a single state in the entire south and did not even come close to scoring a minimum of 25% of the total votes cast in any of the states in the south, Jonathan did well even in Buhari’s own support base in the north, garnering the required minimum of 25% of the total votes cast in several states in the north, thus conferring on his presidential mandate the much desired national character and acceptability across the board, which is a critically important element that is needed for effective governance.

These results have clearly put a lie to the widely held notion that the north is a monolithic behemoth that could be counted upon any day to deliver block votes for its presidential candidate. It bears mention that the fight had finally come down to a straight one between Jonathan from the south and Buhari from the north with Nuhu Ribadu of the ACN and Ibrahim Shekaru of the ANPP already discounted due to the poor showing of the parties in the north in the previous NASS election. Yet the much feared block votes from the north did not materialize and a candidate who had campaigned and carried on as religious candidate of the north in order to take maximum advantage of northern religious and ethnic sentiments was completely vanquished at the polls when the presidential slot was not zoned to the south as it was in 2003 when Obasanjo cleaned out the northern votes to beat Buhari. This time around the field was open to all and there were no zoning considerations whatsoever. That is the major lesson of the 2011 presidential election.

In announcing the performances of the candidates for the presidential election at INEC headquarters in Abuja, Jega had declared authoritatively as follows as taken from the Daily Sun newspaper:

“By the power conferred on me by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I, Attahiru Jega hereby certify that I am the returning officer for the Presidential election held on April 16.

“That the election was contested. And that the candidates scored the votes as follow: ACN 2,079,151; ADC 51,682; ANPP 917,012; APS 23,740; ARP 12,264; BNPP 47,272; CPC 12,214,853; FRESH 34,331; HDP 12,023; LDPN 8,472; MPPP 16,492; NCP 26,376; NMDP 25,938; NTP 19,744; PDC 82,243; PDP 22,495,187; PMP 56,248; PPP 54,203; SDMP 11,544 and UNPD 21,203.”

Exactly at 8:32pm on Monday, April 18, 2011, barely 48 hours after the close of polls, candidate Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the PDP was declared winner and president-elect with Aso Rock and the nation erupting in giddy celebrations as reported by the media. It was a victory well deserved because the man worked his butts off to attain it. He will probably go down as the sitting president and candidate, who campaigned the hardest, reached the farthest of places, and consulted the widest across the board even with bike riders, artistes and artisans and market women, just to mention but a few. Therefore, if hard work and tenacity of purpose in the face of threats and intimidation have any merits at all to them and therefore deserve to be rewarded Jonathan it was. And Nigerians did not hold back their votes from him because they believed in his message of Nigeria for all and clarion call for transformation of the nation for a new Nigeria we can all be proud of even though his party the PDP had disappointed the nation in the past. As the governor of Osun state, Mr. Aregbesola said, the vote for Jonathan by Nigerians was personal to him rather than to his party, that had by and large, failed the nation in the twelve years it had been in power. Therefore, if PDP has retained power at the center especially in the presidency it’s courtesy of Jonathan going by the governor’s theory. Personally I think it has more to do with the failure of the opposition than with Jonathan himself, which I had dealt with extensively in past and will therefore not go into here, although he clearly has demonstrated certain admirable qualities not the least of which are his disarming humility, accommodation, level headedness, and of course patriotism, and his detribalized persona.
In collecting his “Certificate of Return” on Tuesday, April 20, 2011, three days after the election and a day after he was formerly declared winner, amid the violent protests in the north, an elated Jonathan enthused:

“This is the beginning of major changes in the country. Before now, the international observers used to paint our elections in different colours, but this year’s election is different, first that of the National Assembly and then the presidential. The information we received and what we have read is that they have given us a passmark.

“It has to be so because of the competence of INEC officers and the position not to compromise your independence. Nigerians are happy with you because you have placed Nigeria on a higher wrung of the ladder and others have seen that we can at least conduct an election that would usher in a new government.
And as a mark of his leadership qualities he did not forget the youths many of which have been implicated in the protests blaming their actions on joblessness.

In his own words, “Most of the youths involved in the violent protests from what we see and hear belong to those unemployed categories, these are the people that are central to us. These are the people that we are committed to their cause. These are the people that collectively, we can do something so that they would no longer be used as tools by unpatriotic individuals.”
However, Buhari has not only failed to congratulate the declared winner of the election but has refused to accept the results of the election. Instead he has been spouting spurious claims of rigging that are calculated to destroy the credibility of the polls. Those efforts have seen his fanatical supporters in the north unleashing terror and visiting death and destruction on innocent Nigerians ironically in parts of the north where he gained almost all of his votes in the polls. The northern states that are being undermined and destroyed by these terrorists were the very ones that voted massively for Buhari rather than the southern states that rejected him at the polls. “Transferred aggression” lawyers call it. However, his efforts aimed at discrediting the election have hit a brick wall as both domestic and international election monitoring groups are calling on him to accept the results because they have been adjudged credible enough coming as they do from a free, fair, and credible election monitored by and certified by all. For instance, in a statement released by a coalition of election observers in Nigeria under the auspices of “Project Swift Count” reported by Vanguard newspaper in its April 19, edition, the election monitoring groups have this to say:
“INEC has conducted the collation of presidential results in a very open manner. Official results by states have immediately been posted on the internet for anyone to see. In order to ensure even greater transparency and accountability Project 2011 Swift Count calls upon INEC to also post polling unit level results on its website.”
“To give INEC, political contestants and the public greater confidence in this new methodology Project 2011 Swift Count will also publish on our website the official results from the individual sampled polling units that were used to calculate the Swift Count estimates for anyone to see.”
Their verdict speaks for itself and that’s reason why even people like Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda (IBB), who had worked against the Jonathan candidacy at the beginning and had delivered their states to Buhari in the north have called to congratulate Jonathan because the election had been seen to be free and fair. In fact, all the election monitoring groups have returned similar verdicts. Therefore, regardless of the misguided antics of mischief makers who want to re-litigate the issues and revise the unanimous verdicts, Nigerians everywhere have shaken off the cobwebs of shame and embarrassment they had been forced to wear on their faces wherever they found themselves on the face of the globe as a result of her condemnable, lackluster, contentious, and indeed shameful electoral performances especially since the return to democracy since 1999. While it is the case that all the ills that bedeviled all previous elections have by no means left us alone in these ongoing elections their occurrences this time around were largely sporadic, and not as widespread as they were in the past—thanks to improved security and monitoring measures put in place, as well as the determination of both the people and the government of Nigeria to get it right for the sake of our nation and posterity. If the nation could do it in 1993 there was no reason to believe that it was incapable of re-enacting a similar feat in 2011. And so the fears that had been expressed in certain concerned quarters concerning the ability of the electoral agency to midwife credible election in spite of the huge investments made by the nation in it were quickly put behind a nation that celebrated democracy with record turnouts all over the country.

I, Franklin Otorofani, therefore, join labor, NGOs, student unions, Nigeria’s Governors Forum, distinguished Nigerians from all walks of life, the United States, Britain, and France, South Africa, and other well wishers to say congratulations to fellow compatriots, the government, INEC, political parties and their candidates, who made it possible for this election to go down as one for the history books for posterity to cherish as a befitting electoral landmark, and in particular to the President-Elect!

It’s therefore quite unfortunate and a matter for regret that while the nation was breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to the concluding round of the election, reverberations from the presidential election are still pounding our shorelines like localized but cascading waves of a Tsunami. It is quite ironic that an election which all Nigerians should have been celebrating as the freest, fairest and most credible in the nation’s history as testified to by all except mischief makers has brought in its wake blood and destructions of fellow citizens in parts of the north. It is indeed a shame that while the nation as a whole was celebrating this rare feat, a few misguided elements were celebrating violence and bloodshed in the streets of Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Yola, etc, in their futile efforts aimed at changing the narratives mid-course. But the narratives will not be changed; the verdict of the people and the world will not be changed; the results of the election will not be changed; the loser will not become the winner; and the violence will be swiftly brought to a halt and the savages brought to justice in accordance with the laws of the land in the fullness of time.

Those who do not possess the capacity to bend the national will to their parochial service should not attempt the impossible. Buhari has not disputed the election results in the north which is his support base where he won handily. He has picked on the south instead where he has no support whatsoever going by the results of the previous NASS elections as a guide and pre-election public opinion polls. Was that not the reason he was hoping to enter into an alliance with ACN which has its support base in the south to balance the equation for him? Did Buhari not know that he is persona non grata in the south when it comes to elections? If the CPC and Buhari were rigged out in the south as he now alleges, how come it’s not his supporters in the south but his supporters in the north that are protesting the results of the elections in the south? Does the fact that not a single supporter of his in the south has protested the results in the south not tell him that he has no support base whatsoever in the south, and he knew that going in? How could northerners validly protest results in the south where they did not vote? Or, what are they protesting in the north if it is not the results of the southern polls that undid Buhari and helped to push Jonathan well beyond the finish line? Are the so-called protests taking place because Buhari lost at all or because Jonathan won at all? Oh, wait a minute: They thought their fanatical votes alone would put Buhari in power or that all Buhari needed to win were the votes from the north! What fools! What twisted savages! They’re worse than cavemen and should not have a place of abode and sanctuary amongst civilized men in a civilized society. They belong to Hades and to the plenipotentiaries to permanently separate them from the civilized world where they do not belong and therefore cannot function except like wild beasts acting out their essential nature in the jungles.

Who then are those behind these reported riots in parts of Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Yobe, and Adamawa states? It’s the politicians of course in unholy league with Islamic fundamentalists. The very same sponsors of ethno-religious violent flare-ups in the parts of the north, particularly in Plateau, Bauchi, Kano, and Kaduna states in the past are at work again using the election results that did not favor a Muslim as a convenient pretext. Incidentally, Buhari is the very embodiment and linchpin of ethno-religious bigotry. His campaign was described as religious crusade and his supporters described as Islamic foot soldiers and Jihadists. Buhari is the meeting point between politics and religion. He had come into this business to prosecute a religious agenda using politics as his launch pad and veritable platform. His defeat therefore has provided combustible materials to set the north ablaze with disastrous consequences for the entire nation. It would be recalled that Ebenezer Babatope had warned the nation on the dangers constituted by Buhari and his religious supporters whom he had described as security risks going by the their utterances at his religious crusades in parts of the north disguised as political rallies. Did the security agencies heed his advice? If they did the violent flare ups in the north could have been avoided or swiftly contained. Or perhaps they were lulled into a sense of complacency by the relative peace that trailed Buhari’s loss in the NASS election. But they should have known that Buhari himself was not on the ballot in the NASS election and he did not personally lose that election. But he was on the ballot in the presidential election and there was no reason to believe that he would win the election. Therefore, the security agencies should have prepared for the possibility of his fanatical religious followers reacting with extreme violence to his defeat whether or not the election was free and fair. These savages do not know and cannot be expected to know the difference between the two. They’re simply not interested. Their goal is not democracy but theocracy and they tolerate democracy only to the extent that it could be used to bring about Islamic theocracy in Nigeria. In other words they’re not concerned about the means so long as it brings the desired end.

As such, all they were interested in was the return of Sheik Muhammadu Buhari to power at all costs to institute for them Sharia laws nationwide regardless of the wishes of other Nigerians of different religious or philosophical persuasions, which count for less in their bigoted estimation. And if the outcome of the presidential election has not brought about their expectation they might as well pull down the house with its democracy. Of what use is democracy to them that would not bring about Islamic theocracy headed by the Ayatollah Muhammadu Buhari? Of what use to them is democracy without Sharia laws? That is the kind of stuff religious fundamentalism is made of and this could not have been lost on the security agencies by any stretch. It comes as a surprise therefore that it was caught flatfooted in handling the post election reactions in parts of the the north. In this regard, the prompt suspension of the Interior Minister, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, is therefore a step in the right direction. His failure to mobilize the security services to checkmate the morbid and destructive activities of Buhari’s fanatics in parts of the north deserves nothing but an immediate sack order and perhaps a probe too to serve as an example of what awaits non performers and those who sleep on the jobs or compromise on principles in the new dispensation. And there is a template for this provided by the firing of the former National Security adviser who, during the secret air ambulation of comatose Yar’Adua from Saudi Arabia to Abuja deployed soldiers in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, without clearance or knowledge of the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief coupled with the Plateau state massacres. His alleged anti-party activities aside, which were separate issues, Iheanacho deserved to be fired on grounds of national security breaches currently unfolding and spreading like wild fires in the north under his watch. And that should serve notice on others like him that the new order in Nigeria would not tolerate business as usual.

And so the answer to the rhetorical question reportedly asked by flabbergasted Kano clergyman, Rev Habila Sunday, in Hausa language translated into English, "What brought together religion and politics?” and followed by the strong demand, “I want to know why when politics happens they burn churches?" as reported by Vanguard of 042011, would be "Buhari!" That is the answer, Rev. Habila Sunday. Was that a surprise to you, good and gentle man of God? May God bless you abundantly! Your cries should reverberate in the Halls of Heavens and attract appropriate response from heavenly powers. But didn't you see how he had made the election into a religious affair by window-dressing up his ticket with a church pastor? And you thought he did that in good faith, didn’t you? How mistaken! No, he did not. He did that to draw a sharp contrast in the religious divide. Now consider this hypothetical situation for a moment: Buhari is already 68 year old and naturally getting closer to his grave. And throw in the very exacting presidential duties of the office he ran for, and that could possibly quicken the aging process, and anything could happen while in office. How then could his religious fanatics support a church pastor succeeding him as Jonathan succeeded late Musa Yar Adua in the event that Buhari suffered similar fate if he had won the election? This is not farfetched or improbable. We have seen it before in this nation with the death of President Yar’Adua. What happened to Jonathan in the hands of Yar’Adua men would be child’s play compared to what could happen to Bakare in the hands of Buhari’s men. This shows conclusively that Buhari's running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare was no better than a curtain used to dress the window of the Buhari ticket. Poor Bakare! Whoever advised him in that political misadventure with Buhari did not wish him well at all in life. Who knows whether they were looking for the head of a pastor and they settled on Bakare for leading the protests against late Yar Adua's refusal to hand over power to his Christian deputy, Jonathan. He may have been set up and lured in with a hollow title of VP which could have been used to hang him in office. Trust the military tanks to roll in and take him away. And chikena! He would have been history.

Once again the Nigerian political class particularly of the opposition hue has demonstrated to the world its essential anti-democratic character of being incapable of accepting election results no matter how free and fair the elections may have been. You could bring angels from heaven to conduct perfect elections in Nigeria and the losers would still reject the results and complaining of being rigged out by their opponents. It’s a Nigerian thing—part of what is derogatorily referred to as the “Nigerian Factor”, which is denuded of the spirit of sportsmanship cherished all over the world. Only House of Representatives Speaker Bankole has displayed this spirit in these elections so far. The rest of them are a bunch of sore and grumpy losers. Buhari is currently exhibiting this Nigerian factor, and in fact, upped the ante with violence no doubt in order to give it greater effect. However, while this predilection toward post-election violence has been associated with virtually all election losers in Nigerian elections since independence, the phenomenon had been somewhat tamped down during the OBJ administration, indeed since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999. Its resurrection now in this 2011 presidential election could therefore be roundly blamed on the presidential candidate of the CPC, General Muhammdu Buhari, who, as in both two previous elections he had contested, has yet again rejected the results of the presidential election. It’s indeed a matter for regret that Buhari whom some had naively claimed to have transformed himself into a born-again democrat has once again demonstrated that he does not believe in democracy nor does he have any regards whatsoever for democratic tenets and ethos. His central campaign theme was violence and threats of violence, and his post-election campaign theme is violence.

This 68-year old former military dictator has not shed one ounce of his former dictatorial self, otherwise how could he so cavalierly dismiss the wishes of his fellow citizens who have delivered their verdict on all the presidential candidates in the election and not just himself alone? And how come he is the only one in the entire universe that monitored the election crying about rigging? The latest report coming from the Buhari camp is a direct insult and frontal attacks on Nigerians. Just as he has always done in the two previous elections he is calling the national mandate handed to Jonathan a “stolen mandate”! Such inflammatory rhetoric associated with Buhari are carefully calculated to incite his supporter to violence. What more evidence anyone needs to classify Buhari as national security risk and the secret instigator of the violent protests in parts of the north?

It is, of course, reasonable to assume that an ex-army general and former military head of state of Buhari’s pedigree would not fancy himself issuing empty threats of unleashing violence on the nation should he not be returned to the presidency by the Nigerian people using unsubstantiated allegations of rigging as convenient pretext. It would be recalled that Buhari campaigned less on his programs for the nation if elected and more on inciting his followers to “defend” their votes—a barely disguised euphemism for violence. One only has to scan through Buhari’s utterances before and during the electioneering campaign period to appreciate this fact. It is all made up of series of incitements to violence. It stands to reason, therefore, that Buhari had probably spent a large chunk of his time preparing for street warfare in the event of his anticipated defeat even before he remembered to launch his presidential campaign, which only got underway after Jonathan had almost completed his campaign whirlwind throughout the nooks and crannies of the nation while he (Buhari), was, in all probability, busy consulting with Jihadists and terrorists for post election militant operations. He will of course deny his involvement in these despicable acts, but he cannot wash his hands off the killings and wanton destruction of properties in parts of the north by his supporters on account of his defeat. What is more, he has not considered it fit to distance himself from the blood-letting either, when other prominent Nigerians including the revered Sultan of Sokoto himself are condemning the violence and calling for cessation of hostilities, which he had stoutly refused to do despite repeated entreaties to him, well until now. Even so he had sought to cast the blame on everybody else except his party supporters. Therefore, his inexplicably loud silence and belated reaction in the face of wanton destruction of lives and properties going on the north in his name is an indication of his complicity. And that makes him at the very least potentially an accomplice before and after the fact. His belated dissociation from the criminal activities of the street blood hounds in his name is clearly an afterthought and has come only after prominent northerners had begun to condemn the violence, with the concomitant implications that he was behind it and was therefore compelled to follow suit.

It would appear that Buhari has seemingly declared war on the nation for daring to reject him at the polls in an election roundly declared by both local and international observers as reasonably free, fair, and credible, and comparable only to the criminally annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election that was won by MKO Abiola. But such verdict means nothing to Buhari and his deranged band of supporters, who now see a bug in INEC’s computer machines that they claim were programmed to pad the votes for Jonathan and the PDP in the general elections. In his desperation, Buhari is prepared to tell the world, without offering any proofs whatsoever, that the proprietary “Microsoft Excel” application in INEC’s computer machines had been programmed to pad up the votes for Jonathan and the PDP. Never mind that the voting was manual and the results declared on the spot enabling election observers and the parties to do the math themselves. Now I knew Buhari to be ex-army general, former petroleum minister, military Head of State and chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under the late military dictator, General Sanni Abacha. But I must confess I never knew Buhari was also a computer software engineer who could technically trace his crushing electoral defeat to a computer software glitch. Trust me if I knew he was such a computer wizard, I would have campaigned for him and persuaded Nigerians to vote for him en-mass, and all the Yahoo Boys would have mobilized massively for him too. Too bad he did not make a full disclosure in his resume in his job application to the Nigerian people. If he did I missed it.

But wait a minute: This is not a laughing matter. We are talking about a pro-PDP rogue-ware allegedly built right into Microsoft Excel application installed in INEC computers to award unmerited votes to Jonathan in the presidential election won by Jonathan! In order words, Buhari is telling us that it was INEC’s computers that awarded victory to Jonathan not Nigerians. This is an unbelievable allegation. First of all, Microsoft Excel is a proprietary software application owned by Microsoft Corporation, and it’s duly protected by both local and international copyright laws all over the world. And I don’t see INEC or the suppliers of the machines messing with Microsoft copyrights. They would be out of business if and when caught. Microsoft plays hard ball with its copyrights infringements. But come to think of the allegation, was that why PDP was trounced by the ACN in the NASS election in the South/West or the machines mistook ACN for PDP that was supposedly programmed to benefit from the alleged rogue-ware? What a grotesque and outlandish claim! This raises a lot of questions for Buhari. When and how did he become aware of the presence of this bug? Was it before or after the presidential election? Did the bug affect results in the north where he won in several states or it was programmed to doctor only results in the southern states? Are the results his field men had at both the polling stations and the collation centers different from those declared the state RECs? If so by what margins, and why has he not published them for the world to see and review and for people to make their judgments?

Now, where is the proof in this very serious allegation or is it by his mere say so? He has offered no evidence whatsoever in support of the allegation other than “strong suspicion based on reasonable grounds”! Yes folks, innocent blood of fellow citizens must be shed on the basis of “suspicion based on reasonable grounds.” And what are the reasonable grounds? None is offered either. Both suspicion and reasonable grounds have no proofs. No one knows the reasonable grounds because they are imaginary and products of dementia. If the plot behind this violence is to discredit the elections, which have been hailed as free and fair by the entire world through some spurious allegations, the plot has failed even before it was executed. Would violence change the verdict of the world and the nation on the credibility of the election? Not one chance in hell. Would it prevent Jonathan from being sworn in, come May 29, 2011? Not one chance in hell. So to what purpose is the violence directed? Would it bring down the Jonathan administration through a military coup? Again, not one chance in hell! It won’t do a thing to the results and Jonathan’s mandate freely given by the Nigerian people. But I’ll tell you what it will do. It will further destroy the image of Muhammadu Buhari forever and expose him as the religious bigot that he has always been. It is heart-warming though that people like Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, IBB and the Sultan of Sokoto have denounced the violence in parts of the north directed against Christians and non indigenes alike. And even AREWA too that should equally be held responsible for these totally unwarranted incidents has suddenly found its voice to condemn the violence. Only last week Buhari was faking his concern for the nation by tearing up publicly without any apparent prompt. He had rehearsed that act in secret which he acted out publicly ostensibly to underline his lamentation for the state of things in Nigeria. But the same Buhari is ready to burn down the nation if he was not given what he wanted. While he is mourning his defeat in private, the least that is expected of him is to call his supporters who are killing in his name to order or to dissociate himself from their barbaric acts. His failure to do so speaks volumes about his stance.

Of course no one is denying Buhari the right to contest the results of the elections. He has every right to do so and had, in fact, been doing so before now. He had contested twice before in the past in 2003 and 2007 and failed twice too. He contested the results on each occasion all the way to the Supreme Court and lost yet again. But here is the case against Buhari which has informed my hard line toward him: He attempted to call his supporters out in the streets to protest the results in 2003 when the no-nonsense OBJ dared him and he recoiled into his shell and then went to court instead. And there was no violence in the streets. Buhari is on record to have call for what called “mass action” again a euphemism for violent protests. Must he always resort to violence when a southerner is involved in the contest with him? Though those elections were uncharitably described as the worst in the nation’s history Buhari saw no reason to resort to violence in 2007 against the declaration of Yar’Adua as the winner. Was it because a northern Muslim was the beneficiary of that election that he kept mum? This time around it is southern Christian, and by extension the south that is the beneficiary of the election in the minds of Buhari’s jihadists and street urchins. What has Buhari against Christians in particular? Nigeria is not the only nation in the world with large Moslem population operating under a democratic system. What makes some Nigerian Moslems in the north different from Moslems in other parts of the world that they must always kill and destroy their fellow citizens and their properties at the drop of a hat? Committing heinous crimes in the name of religion and politics cannot be acceptable or tolerated anywhere in the world where there is rule of law as opposed to rule of the jungle. Is it now a crime for a Christian and minority southerner to win presidential election in Nigeria? Is the Nigerian presidency the exclusive preserve of northern Moslems? What makes them to think that they have a greater stake in the nation than others? Or is Buhari doing this because he sees Jonathan as a week man not being an ex-military general like OBJ who had put him in his place? If IBB is not annulling election won by a southerner, Buhari’s goons are killing southerners for winning presidential election. Why must anyone suffer death in the north for rejecting Buhari at the polls? How can we continue to live together as one in this murderous manner?

With that said, if Buhari is seriously blaming his loss on alleged rogue program embedded in Microsoft Excel application I’ll leave that for him and Jega to iron out, not in Jega office but at the Presidential Election Tribunal. But I can assure him that sending a complaint to INEC is an exercise in futility because Jonathan has already been declared the winner and president-elect, and there is nothing Jega and INEC can do to reverse that declaration. And by the way, who are Buhari’s legal or illegal advisers? Once a winner has been duly returned by the Chief Returning Offficer for the presidential election, who is Jega that is it, and he becomes functus officio.

Also no one should blame Buhari either much less condemn him for seeing what others did not see in an election conducted under the full glare of the public and under the watchful eyes of both local and international election observers. Buhari might have a sixth sense that others lack, which might have enabled him to see in the south from his far away base in the north what others based in the south could not see in the south. It is not Buhari's fault that others are not blessed with the sixth sense to enable them see what he was seeing that they didn't see. But regardless of the veracity of his claims Buhari has not right to instigate violence in any part of the country on the basis of his hallucinations or for any other reasons whatsoever. He is certainly not unaware that two of Nigeria’s foremost nationalists and founding fathers of the nation in the persons of the late Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo and Anthony Enahoro, who gave Nigeria independence, were incarcerated by his revered Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, in the First Republic. And ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and MKO Abiola suffered imprisonment too on charges of treasonable felonies in more recent memories both in the hands of Nigerian rulers of northern extraction. And I’m not aware that the laws on treasonable felonies have been expunged from the nation’s statute books yet. What is more, he Buhari, sent many of Nigeria’s statesmen to prison leading to their untimely deaths in the persons of late Bisi Onabanjo and Professor Ambrose Ali, Governor of former BENDEL state just to mention but a few. In addition, he, in fact, placed the late sage Awo under house arrest in the Second Republic and was only set free and his international passport returned when IBB overthrew him (Buhari) two years later in 1985. He should know, therefore, that he is not above the laws of the land and what happened to former leaders mentioned above could equally happen to him and heavens will not fall because the law is the law. President Goodluck Jonathan may have been lenient and accommodating but it would be a grave mistake indeed to dare the authority of the state by instigating violence in parts of the north. Or does he think the security agencies are not aware of his activities and incendiary utterances? Mixing criminality with politics is not a good idea because both have nothing in common.

And so to the president-elect, Goodluck Jonathan, must I address myself in this fashion: That the protection of lives and properties is the first duty of any government. And the authority of the state must never be challenged unanswered by any armed groups under whatever guise or pretext within its territorial jurisdiction. What that means in practice is that the government as the executing arm of the state has a duty to enforce the laws of the land no matter whose ox is gored.
Those who have issues with the results of the election have been provided with adequate avenues to process their grievances and seek redress. And to the best of my knowledge and understanding recourse to self-help is not one of those avenues unless someone has a different agenda of provoking a crisis where there was none. Government’s repeated failure in dealing with mischief makers in the nation has led to an unacceptable situation where anyone could put a bomb wherever he wants or instigate others to kill and maim their fellow citizens or burn down churches and other buildings belonging to innocent souls for no other reasons than they did not vote for one individual or the other or do not belong to one religion or the other. The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should therefore make clear to the Jihadists that just like the crusaders of the western world who prosecuted non-believers centuries ago the era of violent religious proselytizing is gone forever, and the jihadists are living in the past. Therefore, the very notion of Islamic theocracy, which is clearly their ultimate goal is, at best, anachronistic. The world cannot be moving forward while Nigeria would be moving backwards into fossilized theocracy. Even at the worst of times Nigeria was never a theocracy before and after independence and will never regress into becoming one in the 21st century when theocratic governments in the heart of Islamic world are drawing their last breaths in the Arab world and in the Middle East.

One only has to look at such Islamic nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore that have embraced democracy and have consequently recorded quantum leaps forward in economic growth and development to convince the Islamic fundamentalists that theocracy is dead and buried never to be resurrected. The wind of change sweeping across the Arab kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirate (UAR), will complete this world revolution. That is the inexorable course of history such that even communist nations like China, former USSR now Russia and even Fidel Castro’s Cuba have either embraced democracy or progressively moving towards it. We will not allow misguided elements to set the hands of the clock back for the nation. If they didn't believe in democracy why did they go out to put their names in the voter register in the first place? If they didn’t believe in democracy why did they go out to vote for Buhari only to insist that he must be declared the winner after he had failed to make it? If they had been brainwashed into believing that their votes alone would put Buhari there in Aso Rock they have nobody but themselves to blame when the truth caught up with them as it must. And what have Christians in the north got to do with such misrepresentation that they must die for a lie told by another? Enough is enough. This time around we are asking for the heads of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. It cannot and must not be business as usual or mere pleas to them to lay down their arms. You don’t plead with murderers and savages. They have to be taken dead or alive and made to answer for their crimes under the laws of the land. And that is job Number One for the president-elect. Justice must take its course for no one should take the life of another and be allowed keep his. Isn’t that the prescription of both the Criminal Code in the South and the Penal Code in the North? Or for that matter, isn’t that the prescription of Sharia law as well? Well then let the laws take their rightful course. And that is why Jonathan is president-elect.

Those who are crying for justice whose loved ones have been cut down in cold blood must therefore have been encouraged by the statement coming from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) indicating that the federal government is determined to “... bring to justice all those remotely and directly involved in the killings and destruction that took place in some parts of the federation.” But more than that, however, it is heart warming to hear these following fighting words directly from Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief himself in a nationwide broadcast dedicated exclusively to the rampaging mayhem in the north:
“As president, it is my solemn duty to defend the constitution of this country. That includes the obligation to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian wherever they choose to live.
“I will defend the right of all citizens to freely express their democratic choice anywhere in this country; to enjoy every freedom and opportunity that this country can offer without let or hindrance.
“I have directed that the perpetrators of these dastardly acts of violence and all those who seek to continue to breach the peace and stability of this nation must be fished out and made to face the full weight of the law.
“In this regard, a Judicial Commission of Inquiry will be constituted to look into the immediate and remote causes of this recent tide of unrest.”
Good talk. That is his duty and first order of business as president. However, we have heard such strong statements in the past before when things like these happened, yet nothing substantial followed. The federal government must match its words with action because Nigerians are not interested in hollow declarations. That statement should not be treated as business as usual this time around but given full effect to the full extent of the law. Nigerians are asking for nothing less and must get nothing less. And they are watching…

Long live Nigeria’s democracy!

From the stable of –Cutting-Edge Analytics--More than a Blog, It’s a Learning Experience!
Franklin Otorofani is an Attorney and Public Affairs Analyst. Contacts: mudiagaone@yahoo.com, http://franklinotorofani.wordpress.com/
 




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