Right of Reply to Pendulum: Open Letter to the VP

Right of Reply to Pendulum: Open Letter to the VP

By Laolu Akande

My dear Bob Dee!

One could have easily made up his mind not to read or respond to anything you wrote after seeing the rather unprincipled queuing up behind Senator Bukola Saraki and then abandoning him, moving on to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and then deserting him as well.

But I felt one should respond to your attempts to create a false narrative from the very hollow lamentation of the recent elections as the “worst in our history”.

In my view, those like your good self, veteran journalists, who have built a formidable platform in the public arena must strive always to use the platform for the larger public good. There have been several interventions from you that reflect such true public spirit, but some of us stridently disagree with what at times could be perceived as a self-serving journalistic conduct. Many would seem to agree that this was obvious in your recent open letter to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

But first, let me thank you for your gracious words of congratulations to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, and your admiration for the VP’s commendable performance in office. I am certain that your quest for public accountability derives from that admiration.

It is important to state that a citizen’s open letter to public figures or government authority is always welcome here and not necessarily a matter of right or exclusive access. For us, such matters of access for the people to their elected leaders is of normal cause and ought not to be a matter of exclusivity nor should we make a play of it as so special.

As is typical of your propaganda machinery, it begins with an outrageous lie by the principal then the operatives like yourself repeat it ad naseum. It appears you were not in this country when foreign and local observers accepted the results.Independent Foreign Observers commended the transparency and credibility of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Also, the Independent ElectionMonitor group, supported by the French Embassy, concluded that “based on the analysis carried out in this document as well as the actual observations of the election activities across the country, it is Election Monitor’s considered opinion that the 2019 Presidential Election results are consistent with the will of the majority of voters who took part in the elections notwithstanding the various infractions which also occurred as they were not on a scale significant enough to affect the overall outcome of the election.(http://electionmonitorng.blogspot.com/2019/03/analysis-of-2019-nigerian-presidential.html)

YIAGA Africa’s Parrallel Voting Tabulation, relied on by international agencies, embassies and funders also said its “findings show that for the presidential election the All Progressive Congress (APC) should receive between 50.0 per cent and 55.8 per cent of the vote.” And that “the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) should receive between 41.2 per cent and 47.0 per cent of the vote; these figures are consistent with the official results as just announced by INEC.

“For both APC and PDP, the official results fall within the PVT estimated ranges.” That YIAGA AFRICA results statement was based on reports from 1,491 polling units which are 98.4 per cent of sampled polling units. YIAGA AFRICA’s projections were reportedly also consistent with the officially announced vote shares for the other 71 parties who contested in the presidential election. It is also believed that the group’s projections were based on the results announced in the polling units and would have detected any significant manipulation occurring during collation at the ward, local government area, State and national levels. Also, “INEC’s official results for turnout and rejected ballots were also generally consistent with YIAGA AFRICA WTV estimates.” (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/02/yiaga-africa-verifies-election-results/)

These are empirical facts, my dear Bob Dee, especially if you your analysis through any rigorous tests. Propaganda and falsehood only need a willing sponsor.

Yes, observers mentioned pockets of violence and some malpractices, but none felt that these were sufficient to affect the credibility of the elections or its results. Frequently cited is Ago Palace in Lagos. One unit in a city of 20 million! In any event, the real question is, how did the violence in the comparatively few places where it happened favour the President? And how come the strong allegations of foul play by the likes of Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom, George Akume in Benue and Ndoma-Egba in Cross Rivers State (all APC Senatorial aspirants!) escaped your eagle eyes?

It is sometimes forgotten, and Bob Dee , you chose to forget, that for the previous 16 years before 2015, the PDP governments had conducted elections. Everyone is familiar with the incredible excesses of the elections and the election-observer reports so poignantly describe some.

In the 2003 elections which gave Atiku Abubakar and his boss a second term, Wikipedia observes that “Millions of people voted several times. The police in Lagos uncovered an electoral fraud, finding five million false ballots.”

But the 2007 elections got even worse reviews: “Following the presidential election, groups monitoring the election gave it a dismal assessment. Chief European Union observer Max van den Berg reported that the handling of the polls had “fallen far short” of basic international standards, and that “the process cannot be considered to be credible”, citing “poor election organisation, lack of transparency, significant evidence of fraud, voter disenfranchisement, violence and bias.”

They described the election as “the worst they had ever seen anywhere in the world”, with “rampant vote rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation”).One group of observers said that at one polling station in Yenagoa, in the oil-rich South-South, where 500 people were registered to vote, more than 2,000 votes were counted.”

Your choice of words such as “theatre of war” to describe the presidential polls is not only inaccurate and questionable by and large, but also surprising considering the recent history of past presidential polls. And you have to tell us who described the elections as “the most dreadful and desperate”?

Besides this facts that you carefully chose to ignore, the contents of your letter read in part like a brief for the opposition, and, at other times, a judgment of an electoral tribunal in favour of the opposition. And such bias undermines the credibility of the author such as yourself.

It could even render the write-up confusing rather than informing the readers. For good measure, Bob Dee, maybe we should just remind our readers that not only are you an active member of the opposition, you have also benefited from significant business relationships with some in the opposition circles. And this is entirely within your right.

But that certainly discounts your assessment about the direction of our administration. It also devalues your criticism of the narratives that hold those who raped this country in the past responsible for the consequences of their corrupt activities while in government.

One also wonders whether it is your well-known personal relationship with the opposition that has beclouded you so much that you seek to assail the anti-corruption efforts which ordinary and well-meaning Nigerians have embraced.

Let me make it clear that the facts show that while some old members of the opposition have joined APC, that has not shielded those responsible for corruption and graft. In any case, even if old PDP members are now APC members, the current leadership of the country under the APC stands out as it is made up of two gentlemen with impeccable integrity.

Old PDP members and all Nigerians are welcome just like sinners are embraced in the church, Inf act, the church was opened for sinners to be converted. And what is skewed about the anti-corruption campaign when the two governors who have now been convicted for corruption are both APC?

Having said that, be rest assured that the APC as a party will articulate its defences to any allegations. For the records, it is an obvious fact and this must be reiterated that the Buhari administration has a commendable record of respecting the independence of INEC, a clear departure from what occurred under previous administrations. This government also ensures that it provides all the support INEC requires, as well as respects the independence of the judiciary and has ensured that security forces act within the ambits of law. Even international observers have made their comments accordingly and positively.

As the Buhari administration always noted, every single loss of life is sad and lamentable. And previous elections have regrettably caused even far more losses. We must achieve an electoral system that doesn’t result in any such loss of life. However, the record of improvement from the past is clear as it were.

To characterize the will of the people as Pyrrhic victory represents what exactly needs to change in and about our nation. Indeed, our privilege as elites imposes the responsibility of trustees of power, wealth, values and direction of and for a nation in the interest of the people upon us. To narrow this interest or substitute our amplified voices as the vocal minority for the silent majority is not only taking liberties a little too far, but also losing tune and touch with our national realities. As leaders, we must reflect introspectively on how we have prioritized the people, and how we must continue to do so going forward.

This is what President Muhammadu Buhari is known for and it is what played out in the elections. It is the voices of the few and the devices of the privileged that the Opposition regarded and expected to hold up. That did not happen.

We respect the right to disagree and exercise that right through the established mechanisms, but we reject any denigration and the diminishing of the electoral outcome which is the true voice and expression of the people of this country.

As you noted, the whole concept of sin in the worldly context is a violation of the law of the land, and in the spiritual context, a violation against God. That you judge either as a matter of law, or ecclesiastically when you by yourself determine that this administration is “committing sin” is a departure from what your letter identifies as its objective. Victory in an election is a nation speaking up, while the victor is the symbol of that nation’s victory.

Both life, by its temporal nature, and the Constitution, by its term limitations and periodic elections, already ensure that we all know that everything but eternity is transient, and the example of that in our nation today is the rejection of the old order four years ago, and the most recent confirmation of that rejection by preferring the new and current order, and the Next Level of our national restoration and growth.

Finally, thank you for declaring your belief that the APC “would have won” a handsome victory because that was exactly what happened! It is your equivocation about Atiku’s loss expressed in the same letter where you said you expected an APC “handsome victory” that left me and other readers confounded. What are we to believe?

Again, thank you for your open letter. Be rest assured that the Vice President and the President would continue working for the good of all Nigerians in the Next Level.

A giant called Pius Adesanmi

A giant called Pius Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi

By Sonala Olumhense

I never met Pius Adesanmi, the remarkable Nigerian icon who died in the Ethiopia Airlines Boeing 737 Max crash last weekend.

But we were part of an NVS editorial board for a while, and I read much of his writings. I knew his spirit. And his heart.

It is why I understand why his death has hit so many people so hard and so personally that there are remembrances being held in many places around the world.

Sadly, those who lose the most by his passing, particularly Nigeria’s poor and exploited, did not know him. And ironically, those who gain the most will be the scavenging and ruthless social and political manipulators that were at the receiving end of his work, wit and wisdom.

It is good, then, that while death may not end the journey God begins for each human being, it does sever the consciousness of the departed with earthliness.

Otherwise imagine how outraged Adesanmi might have been upon discovering that President Muhammadu Buhari, who didn’t know he existed while he existed, described him and Ambassador Abiodun Bashua, another Nigerian who died in the crash, as “distinguished Nigerians who did the nation proud in their professional endeavours.”

Did Nigeria proud?

I pay my respects to Mr. Bashua, an accomplished diplomat, and condole with his family and friends.

But Adesanmi cannot be thought of or remembered in the same way. As an intellectual, he was a champion of excellence, a currency that is admired and widely-sought in much of the world.

But while he was a scholar of reputable standards and achievement, it is the quality of his character and his voice that brought him celebrity in Nigeria.

The irony is that in his tribute, Buhari did not—could not—acknowledge that side of the man. Responding also, Senate President Bukola Saraki also said he did not know about Adesanmi but read some of his articles last week when the explosive impact of his death consumed the country.

This is important. Nigeria has a lot of frontline professionals in many fields within and outside her borders. Few, however, have either the inclination, commitment or talent to step outside their comfort zone and open their voices on behalf of right over wrong.

Those who do are dismissed as people who complain because they have not been given a place at the table. Translation: every Nigerian is a thief.

But Adesanmi was a reminder that there are people who do not want a part of any dirty buffet; people who believe there is enough for all, particularly if the best and most able are allowed opportunities that should go to the best, not the best-connected. He hoped for, and yearned for, and campaigned for a Nigeria that would rise to its potential.

The trouble is that nobody can do that without identifying the factors and people that are responsible for her failures. But Nigerian power-wielders hate to be so identified, let alone challenged. It has become our character and history as a people: Obafemi Awolowo was in his time and prime the best-qualified for national leadership, but he would not get it. Tai Solarin died screaming for social justice, as did Gani Fawehinmi.

Sometimes, we even go abroad to advertise our disdain for quality. Appearing before the Editorial Board of the New York Times in the late 1980s at the peak of his powers, Tom Ikimi, who was Sani Abacha’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrogantly dismissed the worth and work of Wole Soyinka.

They walked out on him.

In 2004, when Chinua Achebe rejected the award of a National Honour because of the sordid record of Olusegun Obasanjo’s government, particularly in Anambra State, government spokesman Femi Fani-Kayode offered him this insult: “If you feel that your country does not deserve to honour you, then we believe you certainly do not deserve your country.”

Nigerian leaders resent and reject the logic of excellence and performance. You worship them with presents and praises. They love the language of such people as the delegation of so-called non-career ambassadors who visited Buhari a few days ago.

They were led by a man called Ashimiyu Olaniyi, who told Buhari with something of a straight face: “You are God-sent. You have always come on stage at the critical moments of our national history to right the wrongs of the past.’’

He told him that his election and re-election, “are divine interventions in the affairs of the country.”

Buhari had to have been glowing with joy, liars such as Olaniyi being priceless and memorable. Unlike writers, particularly irreverent critics such as Adesanmi who have no price tag.

Little wonder then, that Buhari, an unrepentant nepotist, never noticed Adesanmi. People like that are said to be merely “speaking grammar.” To have noticed would have been to acknowledge the writer’s abhorrence of the Nigerian leader’s world of self-worship and hypocrisy.

Of that world, I give Saraki credit for finding the courage to attend a memorial event for Adesanmi in Abuja last week, along with Senator Dino Melaye, although I do not believe any of them read enough of him to understand what he would consider to be penance or repatriation.

What would Adesanmi have thought of the massive “Jail Bukola Saraki” signs seen on the side of London’s famous buses last week? It is unimportant that the images may have been photoshopped: London is Saraki’s real hometown, the one where he became a man and is thought to hold most of his wealth. That such signs were thought up and paid for either by Nigerians rich enough or creative enough says a lot about where the Nigeria struggle goes next.

It is significant that Buhari told the Olaniyi group last week his government is trying to reverse the mismanagement of his predecessors, “and with some luck, our best will be good enough.”

Luck.

Adesanmi would have been furious that while Buhari clearly had but fuzzy plans in 2015, in 2019 when he should be recognising the critical importance of leadership, better policies and dogged implementation, he is throwing his hands into the air just as he threw eight meaningless fingers for the election.

Clearly, that means that Nigeria, post-Adesanmi, has a dark road ahead.

So what do we owe Adesanmi? There is always a lot of energy when a man of such moment passes; in Nigeria, sadly, we do not translate them to action. What meaningful memorial is there, today, of Achebe?

In my view, the most fitting tribute would reflect not only his prodigious energies but his advocacy of meritocracy and quality. Let us have an annual writing competition in his name and writing prizes at least in schools he attended, the objective being to unearth new literary gems and courageous voices from the bowels of the soil he cherished so much.

Adesanmi opened his heart and gave it away. In the end, that is all that matters, for it is by our hearts we live and die, and touch others.

Credit: The Punch

How to end rigging in Nigeria

How to end rigging in Nigeria

By Simon Kolawole

Let us perform an experiment. Let us make a Super Law that says if you are an elected public officer at any level of government, you must enrol all your children in public schools. You cannot send your children to private or foreign schools. If they are already in private or foreign schools, you must withdraw and enrol them in Nigerian public schools after you are elected into office. Also, you and your family members must receive medical treatment at government-owned hospitals in Nigeria. Your wife must give birth at a primary healthcare centre. No member of your family, including yourself, can receive medical treatment in a private or foreign hospital, except treatment is not available in Nigeria, and this has to be confirmed by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

You and members of your family must travel by road anywhere you want to go in Nigeria, expect it is more than 500 kilometres. You cannot be accompanied on the road trip by armed escorts. No elected public officer, president and governor inclusive, will be allowed to fly private or presidential jets even if they are going to Australia. They must all take commercial flights, and only the president and governor can fly first class if they so desire. No elected public officer is allowed to use a motorcade with more than three cars. No public officer is allowed to use siren — the wailing machine should be reserved for the emergency services, notably the fire brigade and ambulances. Nobody should block any road because a governor or president is visiting.

Let us take the experiment further. Elected public officers should be paid only “living” wages and evidently reasonable allowances. There should be no severance package beyond a defined, realistic pension judging by global standards. There should be nothing like “estacode” for travels. The state will bear your expenses — hotel, feeding and transportation — within predefined limits. There should be no foreign trips without clearly defined goals. You must appoint all your aides from the civil service, so we are not going to be bearing extra costs to provide you with special assistants and special advisers. Let the civil service employ and train the best. We have all the technocrats in the civil service so let us make use of them, in addition to raising the standards of recruitment.

Let us step it up now. We should design an accountability and transparency system that will make it virtually impossible for a political office holder to take one kobo out of the treasury. This system will be so crafted that you cannot even award contracts to your friends, families and fronts because your power will be whittled down and circumscribed. Inflation of contracts is virtually impossible as there will be predefined costing templates and predetermined profit margins. You cannot say you bought a can of Coke for N155, for example. Above all, if you steal public funds, a solitary bullet will be fired through your ear or between your eyes — depending on how you like it.

Now, let us begin to catch our breath a little. What would happen if indeed we make a Super Law to enforce these rules? I can assure you straightaway: there will be almost nothing to fight over again! There will be no more rigging, no more violent elections, and no more inconclusive polls. We will not have to shut down schools, impose curfews and deploy soldiers simply because we want to hold elections. The only people you will find in politics are those who genuinely want to serve the society. Anybody who wants to go to public office to accumulate wealth and walk on the heads of Nigerians will not even bother to pick the nomination form. Only genuine human beings will go into politics.

There will be uncountable accidental benefits to Nigeria. If the children of politicians are forced to attend public schools, all the schools will suddenly become excellent, trust me. We will have the best public schools in Africa. If the politician’s wife has to give birth at the primary healthcare centre, even St. Nicholas Hospital will become green with envy at the new standard of the centres. If our political leaders have to regularly travel by land without armed escorts and siren, not only will the police become efficient and chase away armed robbers and kidnappers from the roads, even ordinary potholes will disappear. It is an experiment worth trying!

Imagine that the punishment for awarding a contract to your fronts is a tiny bullet entering through your nostril and exiting at the back your head. You will most likely not want to kill to hold such a position. And even if you decide to seek office, the prospect of joining your ancestors so early in the day will strike the fear of God into your heart. You will not dare go into politics if your interest is not the development of Nigeria. It will not matter whether or not you are a member of the ruling party before the Super Law comes for you. Your sins will not be forgiven even if you are the founder of the ruling party. In the end, there will be enough money to spend on healthcare, education and infrastructure. In not time, we will not recognise Nigeria again. We will think we are in Japan.

If you think my experiment is Utopian, then you are a stranger here. When the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, was shut down for repairs in 2017 and the Kaduna airport became the alternative, did you notice that kidnappers and potholes disappeared from the Abuja-Kaduna highway? You guessed right: the moment the elite needed to use the road, government decided to do the right thing. No governor or minister wanted to be kidnapped. That is the way we roll. The Yoruba say a wicked man does not do wickedness to himself. Even when the French President, Emmanuel Macron, visited Lagos in 2018, suddenly all the bad roads in Ikeja were repaired and broken down vehicles were cleared from sight. Our leaders know what is good, believe you me.

I am sorry if I have upset you today with my proposed experiment. Remember, it is just an experiment, so don’t be too upset. I don’t even believe in capital punishment. Let me be kind a bit then. One, we should use four years to prepare for the experiment. It shouldn’t start immediately so that we can tidy things up. The schools and hospitals should be in a decent state before take-off. Two, there should be enough guarantees to prevent abuses. Three, the experiment should not last for more than 25 years. If there is still election rigging and violence after 25 years, the experiment will have failed. We should then return to the pre-Super Law era. But I am confident that this experiment will work. A trial will convince us. Finally, I would suggest that the Super Law should also apply to ALL civil servants and political appointees, not just elected officials.

As for those who don’t understand irony and might have concluded that ‘Simon has gone rogue this morning’, let me now say it in your language: elections are inevitably violent and atrociously competitive in societies where public office holders have unfettered access to public funds — with little or no accountability. By just becoming a lawmaker, even at state level, you can become a billionaire overnight. You can create perks for yourself. You can pad budgets. You can harass ministries, departments and agencies to employ your thugs, to pay for your accommodation, to buy you first class air tickets, and to award inflated contracts to your fronts. You can, overnight, move from your shack in Mushin to a mansion on Banana Island. How on earth will elections be peaceful?

You see, people don’t fight over nothing. Why would elections be atrocious if you will be forced to withdraw your children from foreign schools and enrol them in Nigeria? Why would you want to kill for an office that will not allow you to fly private jets and chattered flights — even if you owned them before you were elected? Why would you hire thugs to snatch ballot boxes when you will not be able to take one kobo more than your entitlement? You cannot build an extra house, cannot use siren, cannot have a long motorcade, cannot jump queues and cannot get your family members into boards of agencies, so what are you looking for in public office if not that you really want to serve? You must really want to sacrifice for the progress of Nigeria!

Check out the countries in the world where elections are treated as warfare and you will find that (1) there is crime and there is no punishment (2) there is easy money in public office. These are the incentives for bad behaviour. If there is little or no accountability, it means when you enter public office, you can please yourself and your friends without consequences. Even where there are consequences, they are not applied uniformly. If you belong to the right clique, you will get away with rape and murder. Human beings are not stupid. We take calculated risks. If the risk is low and the reward is high, bad behaviour will become the gold standard. Until public office is no longer a shortcut to wealth and crimes are punished uniformly and swiftly across board, expect more rigging and more violence in future elections. Except, of course, we pass the Super Law. Experiment.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
FOR PIUS

When I lost my elder sister and childhood friend, Bosede, in 2015, I despaired even of life. I kept asking: why would she die after all that she had gone through in life? A similar gloom overwhelmed me when I heard of the death of Prof. Pius Adesanmi, the respected writer and literary critic, in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. He was always so lively and extremely witty — two of the attributes that made his column unmissable. I can’t understand how Pius would survive a road accident in which every other passenger died — and then get killed in an air crash less than a year later. In my little mind, surviving the horrific accident meant long life was on the cards for him. Mystery.

BUILDING COLLAPSE

Twelve persons, including nine children, died when a three-storey building collapsed in the Ita-Faaji area of Lagos Island on Wednesday. The building, which housed a primary school, caved in at a time pupils were in their classrooms. The building had been marked for demolition because it was classified as “distress” but any surprises that things still ended the way they did? We were still mourning the dead when another building collapsed in Ibadan on Friday evening. The BBC report on the Lagos incident perfectly sums things up: “It is not unusual for buildings to collapse in Nigeria; materials are often sub-standard and the enforcement of regulations is lax.” Shame.

FALLEN MIGHTY

Although there are serious complaints about malpractices in the governorship elections, we just have to be positive and see that we made some progress, no matter how little. That at least three governors have so far failed to install their lackeys as successors should count for something. For all the anger against the ruling APC, it appears PDP has gained more states in this election. I am not a supporter of APC or PDP, but I would say we need this balance of power to keep this democracy growing. I want giant strides, not our usual story of ‘one step forward and two backward’, but maybe we can still find a silver lining in the cloud. Prospects.

AND FINALLY…

Nigeria has become such a dysfunctional society where senior police officers openly associate with glorified thugs and assassins. Even artistes are singing praises of political thugs, glorifying the exploits of miscreants that used to be classified as outlaws when we still had values. To be a thug and assassin is very rewarding in Nigeria. The rate at which we are going in this country, entrepreneurs will soon start registering companies to provide services of different breeds of political thugs specifically for elections. For now, it is an informal business. But we have so glorified the madness that it will soon become legit. They will even charge VAT. Calamity.

Credit: TheCable

Pride goeth before destruction

Pride goeth before destruction

Governor Abiola’ Ajimobi of Oyo State

The old saying admonishing against pride remains as true as ever. At least, the 2019 Nigerian general elections have ensured that. More remarkably, even though garbed in biblical language, the admonition is meant to serve entire traditional worshippers, even atheists and of course public figures.

Otherwise, only inability or unwillingness to abide by that caution or even deliberate disregard of that self-discipline could account for the electoral setbacks of the state governors humiliated by voters in the 2019 elections. Ironically, their disgrace was avoidable. In any genuinely democratic setting, the arrangement is such for incumbents to serve their tenure as guaranteed, in fact, limited by the Constitution, and allow voters to choose whoever is preferred next. Somehow, the illegality of violating that same arrangement has, over the years, been institutionalised by state governors. It is tempting to absolve these political culprits (state governors) of any blame. But such view will be nothing less than unnecessary pampering. A criminal cannot escape punishment or at least guilt, even though origin of crime(s) dates back to the creation of human beings.

If only the state governors humiliated by voters in the 2019 elections had not been power-drunk, theirs, today, would have been such glory and public acclamation of enviable proportions. Instead, the governors concerned opted for the discredited pattern. That legacy was a carry-over from former President Olusegun Obasanjo who, in 2007, in an act of petulance for woefully failing in the attempt to perpetuate himself in office, deliberately blocked all willing contestants and, instead, unlawfully chose his successor, all aimed at subtle continuation of his authority in governance.

Within a short time, that subtlety became too overbearing for late President Umaru Yar’Adua who had to put a stop to Obasanjo’s insatiable demand for his cohorts, apart from trying to run the government for Yar’Adua, who unfortunately died in office, from causes totally unrelated to his disagreement with Obasanjo. No matter how erstwhile Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan might be happy that Obasanjo virtually catapulted him to office as a successor to Yar’Adua, the same Jonathan was soon to taste of Obasanjo’s indirect command of anybody in Aso Rock.

It was also with that idea that Obasanjo cleverly threw his weight behind candidate Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 against “rebellious and ungrateful” Jonathan. And when Buhari won (in 2015) on the combined merit of his person and his party, the APC, Obasanjo resorted to type by sending two of his cohorts to deliver to Buhari some kind of policy directive. This would have been followed by a list of his potential appointees into government jobs. Buhari’s outright rebuff of Obasanjo’s attempt to commandeer his (Buhari’s) administration was the only cause of Obasanjo’s political hostility, which led to his call on Buhari to quit after one term. It was a gamble, which (has now) exposed the hollowness of Obasanjo’s widely presumed electoral influence anywhere in Nigeria.

The damage done to Nigerian politics by Obasanjo is not only trying to choose his successors or trying to run administrations for them as they came, was not lost on state governors who, since 2007, similarly imposed their individual successors to ensure their (outgone governors’) continued dominance on their imposed successors. Mostly, it never worked out. From one state to another, the newly imposed governor eventually alienated his benefactor of yesterday by, among others in extreme cases, exposing the financial infractions of their predecessors.

Whatever might, therefore, be the intention of some state governors humiliated in the 2019 elections, the situation in Imo State was grotesque. It is, by the way, arguable if any Nigerian can occupy a political office for eight consecutive years without getting controversial. Even then, Imo’s outgoing governor Rochas Okorocha did not help himself. Indeed, no matter how well he might have performed, Okorocha’s actions and utterances in the past six months were not complimentary. And nobody around him bothered to draw his attention to such self-deprecating conduct? In the build-up to the primaries for APC governorship ticket in Imo State, media reported Okorocha as saying he would never allow one of the aspirants (Ararume) to succeed him. That was wrong. It is not within the law or the power of a state governor to refuse a fellow citizen to succeed him. Only law courts or the electorate can exercise such veto against an aspirant, no matter his misdeeds.

To worsen matters, again according to unrelated media reports, outgoing governor Okorocha was to head for the Senate while his wife was set for the House of Representatives.

Except that Okorocha’s son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, eventually turned out to be an aspirant as a successor to Okorocha himself, such an arrangement sounded incredible. Okorocha himself should have known that South-East is too republican for such emerging monarchical hierarchy. In any case, when his party then intervened and organised open primary election to select his successor, Okorocha should have accepted the result, no matter how distasteful. Instead, Okorocha’s son-in-law stood on the platform of a rival party. Thereafter, Okorocha lost everything. Even his Senate election result now stands doubtful, courtesy INEC. All because of the pride of a state governor hell-bent on pursuing the future outside the control or outside the regulations of his party. What would it have mattered if APC won Imo governorship with the party’s candidate instead of Okorocha’s son-in-law? In view of APC’s defeat in the Imo governorship race, what are the prospects of Okorocha’s reconciliation with the party at national level or even state level? Sudden end to otherwise promising political career? In this row, Okorocha is so outmatched that only he can save himself. First, by lying low.

As speculated in this column, APC split its votes in Imo State while PDP fully consolidated their votes for the governor-elect, Emeka Ihedioha.

Outgoing Oyo State governor Abiola Ajimobi is particularly disappointing for how his political career has ended. He should have done better since, at least, he is educated, which does not mean others are illiterates. There is more to education than not being an illiterate. The value of education is the reasonableness it imparts on the recipient. Ajimobi is too exposed and urbane to have attracted, over the years, the vitriol and verbal venom unleashed at him by critics after his (Ajimobi’s) defeat in the senatorial election. Yet, there couldn’t have been two governor Ajimobis, except the one widely known.

The criticisms are too wounding and incredible. For public office holders, perhaps unconsciously, over the years, isolation sets in either because he is averse to advice/criticisms or those around him are too subservient to criticise unpopular decisions. Yes, inside government such criticisms are more effective, more instant and more preemptory. If Ajimobi did not avail himself of such checks, he is today paying for it. Political power or even ordinary authority is so ephemeral that only God is omnipotent. Human beings? He is a failure who does not create room for critical observations by subordinates.

Governor Ajimobi’s handling of the Olubadan/new kings crisis was very tactless as well advised in this column at the time. Centuries-old ethnic culture cannot be dismantled in total disregard of the concern of those to be affected. As minor as that might be, all such issues on traditional rulers in Yorubaland always left traces of bitterness such vindictively expressed against Ajimobi, leading to his defeat in the senatorial race and that of his nominee Adebayo Adelabu in the governorship battle.

Still needlessly, if days could roll back, Ajimobi would not have chanced himself to contest the senatorial race in 2019. What would Ajimobi have lost if he did not contest? Nothing, as it turned out. What would he have gained? Glory and statesmanship. Indeed, he would have earned public respect by allowing willing others to contest for the Senate, instead of even imposing a candidate. Ajimobi rather contested and lost. What humiliation. Now, he is sober and derelict. Ajimobi’s education should have saved him that pity. From the Senate, Ajimobi came, served as governor for eight years consecutively and was still determined to return to the Senate. This was not to be, except that he never believed. Now, he believes.

The least said about outgoing Ogun State governor Ibikunle Amosun, the better. That is merely on the surface. Otherwise, much must be said although briefly. Unlike many governors, Amosun has the advantage of being close to President Muhammadu Buhari since decades. Unfortunately, Amosun misused that edge even to embarrass Buhari himself.

As the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria elected on the platform of a political party, it was only normal for Buhari to be part of APC’s decision of open primaries in the selection of candidates for the 2019 elections. Instead, Amosun defied that decision and chose his own candidates for all the posts. He was particularly insistent, in strict adherence to Obasanjo theory, on single-handedly choosing his (Amosun’s) successor as governor.

To rub it in, Amosun openly declared that not only was he opposed to the party’s candidate as governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, but also that he (Amosun) would campaign against Dapo Abiodun. What was Buhari to do? To refuse Amosun entry to Aso Rock?

Taking undue advantage of unlimited access to the place, Amosun took his personal candidate on the platform of a rival party to Buhari at Aso Rock. To ridicule Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, an indigene of Ogun State supporting the party’s candidate, Dapo Abiodun.

Amidst his braggings and threats to campaign against Dapo Abiodun, the outgoing Ogun State governor (Amosun) was advised in this column that nobody dares Ijebu. Amosun did and suffered electoral humiliation as his candidate was defeated. God neither brags nor threatens as has been happening in Ogun State for the past four months.

Rather, God indulges the shortsighted and immodest to grope in the dark. Not even the declaration of spiritual war by an ex-gubernatorial aspirant could work. Dapo Abiodun won and nothing would happen to him except success and, imperatively, modesty.

Credit: The Sun

Inadequate understanding of “inconclusive” elections

Inadequate understanding of “inconclusive” elections

By Jibrin Ibrahim

#TrackNigeria: On Wednesday, a group of protesters under the platform of Save Nigeria Democracy Group (SNDG) went to INEC national headquarters to protest against too many inconclusive elections declared by the Commission. The protesters said the results from the just concluded elections “did not reflect the true voting direction of Nigerians.’’ They were seen carrying different placards with inscriptions such as “the people’s mandate cannot be stolen”, “Atiku will not congratulate Buhari”, “Prof. Yakubu must resign”, “inconclusive election is a shame”, “Atiku will get justice,” among many others. They argued that: “This latest show of desperation has further strengthened earlier concerns of widespread voter suppression, targeted violence, militarisation of the political space and systematic inflation of figures that punctuated the presidential and National Assembly elections.” They added that the Federal Government was: “muscling INEC and the nation’s security into turning blind eyes to obvious infractions and violations of the federal constitutional provisions and the Electoral Act and the regulations/guidelines regulating the 2019 general elections and went ahead to uphold and announce a tailored result that only serve the ruling APC.”

This narrative has existed long before the elections. In virtually daily news conferences and releases, the Peoples’ Democratic Party and its allies have consistently inundated the broadcast, print and social media about an alleged grand scheme to rig the elections. It is therefore not surprising that so many people today believe that the programmed design to rig the elections has been executed. I have been startled by many friends calling me and demanding that I confirm that the 2019 elections are the worse in Nigerian history; and I have consistently replied – certainly not. Then I get this strange response “but everyone says it’s the worse”, the assumption being there is something wrong with my limited understanding of Nigerian elections. In my world of social science, the fact that everyone asserts something does not make it true. As an observer of the elections, I did not see any evidence showing that there was a significant level of rigging and neither national nor international observers have reported such phenomena. Yes, there were lots of problems with the conduct of the elections, violence, logistics and YES, some rigging but we should assess things for what they are not what we suppose they should be. I am open to being shown evidence of massive electoral fraud being spoken about but so far, statements have remained at the level of assertions.

READ ALSO: PDP rejects Borno governorship election result
Also, on Wednesday, the House of Representatives, resolved to probe the “unwarranted, escalating trend of inconclusive elections in Nigeria, which has cast doubt on the neutrality of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as an umpire in Nigeria’s elections.” The resolution followed a motion of urgent national importance on “the malady of inconclusive elections in Nigeria” by Sunday Karimi (PDP, Kogi), and seconded by Nnenna Ukeje (PDP, Abia). He asserted confidently that the frequent declaration of inconclusive elections by INEC, which was not envisaged in either the 1999 Constitution or the Electoral Act, has become a demon haunting the country’s electoral system. He lamented that the governorship elections in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states were declared inconclusive despite leading candidates having met the provisions of Section 179(2) of the Constitution. That is the section that defined how a winner, who has a clear majority, emerges in an election. The irony is that elections are declared inconclusive precisely in cases where the candidate with the majority has not been clearly identified.

READ ALSO: Elections: 14 of 24 Zamfara Assembly members lose return bid
In the current elections, in 22 States, winners of governorship elections were announced. However, in the six states of Kano, Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and Sokoto, they were declared inconclusive for a number of reasons. These include the discontinuation of the use of Smart Card Readers midway into the elections or the failure to deploy them, over-voting and widespread disruption in many polling units. The reasons are therefore clearly related to electoral fraud and it is curious that correcting such activities to protect the integrity of the elections is being castigated. INEC uses the margin of lead principle to determine whether the clear majority has emerged. In cases where supplementary elections have to be organised because the difference between the two leading candidates could swing after the additional elections, it is simple justice that the supplementary elections are conducted and the definitive winner known before announcement of the results.

In the 2003 and 2007 elections there were no inconclusive elections because numbers were simply allocated to ruling party candidates and the vote of citizens did not count. The phenomenon of inconclusive elections started in 2011 when the integrity of elections started to improve. Remember in 2011 for example the results of the Anambra senatorial election in which Dora Akunyuli of APGA had 66,273 and Chris Ngige of ACN had 65,579 and the margin was 679 while there were 7,930 cancelled votes were declared inconclusive on the basis of Section 53 of 2010 Electoral Act as amended which deals with over voting and section 26 which deals with postponement due to threat of violence and other emergencies. It is dangerous anti-democratic propaganda to turn the tables and present the practice as fraud. It is also illogical to complain about which parties are affected, it is not a question of which party is affected but of what the numbers are when additional elections have to be conducted and the returning officer has done their math based on the margin of lead principle.

READ ALSO: Inconclusive polls: We’re satisfied with INEC’s decision – Bauchi APC
The number of inconclusive elections has grown because opposition parties have grown stronger and have become more competitive. In addition, the introduction of technology, especially use of the Smart Card Reader has been a real check on the old practice of the illegal allocation of votes, reducing the number of landslide results. One of the interesting things about the governorship elections is that the pattern of vote changed in certain states in relation to the presidential vote due to local political dynamics. When local dynamics are reflected in results, it’s a clear message that the votes of ordinary people are counting and both the Peoples’ Democratic Party and the All Progressives Party have good and bad stories to tell on the matter. It is widely known that those who seek to rig elections act on the principle of getting fraudulent results announced through any means and forcing the opponent to go and prove fraud in court, which we all know is very difficult. The approach of INEC since 2011 is not to rush to announce results when there are suspicions of fraud and organize supplementary elections to protect the integrity of the outcome. This trend should be understood for what it is – improving the integrity of elections and supported.

Credit: Daily Trust

Presidential Poll: A Post-mortem

Presidential Poll: A Post-mortem

By Simon-Kolawole, Email: simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com, sms: 0805 500 1961

Since I have been old enough to follow presidential elections in Nigeria, I have to admit that I have never experienced the kind of gloomy mood that hit some sections of the country after the declaration of Presidential Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23 poll. In the past, there would be spontaneous outbursts, demonstrations and riots by the aggrieved. This time around, the atmosphere was more like a funeral in certain places. Many looked severely bereaved. A friend of mine, an entrepreneur, was so distraught that he sent me a chat after the announcement of the final result: “Simon, where do we go from here?” I joked in response: “Canada.”

In my opinion, there were generally two categories of people that backed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the presidential election. In one category are those who genuinely believe his presidency would be better for business in particular and Nigeria as a whole. They are convinced that Atiku has a better grasp of the economy, is more pan-Nigerian in outlook and can assemble a winning team — compared to Buhari. In the second category are those who feel persecuted and marginalised by Buhari and would be too glad to see his back. It is not so much that they all passionately believe in Atiku, just that Buhari is bad news to them 24/7.

I can identify two of the strongest responses to the outcome of the election in the pro-Atiku camp. One is that the poll was rigged. They maintain that if everything had run normally, Atiku would have won. Their grievances are well known: they think that the votes for Buhari were inflated in some northern states, that the security agencies terrorised Atiku’s supporters in some parts of the south and that state institutions worked actively for Buhari’s re-election. I would conclude that a good number of Atiku’s supporters are of the opinion that the election was rigged. Atiku himself has headed to the election petitions tribunal to challenge the outcome.

Some prominent Nigerians have asked Atiku not to go to court. The former vice-president has even been derided by some APC supporters on the social media for daring to challenge the outcome of the election. I take it that people are simply playing politics. We know how many opposition candidates became governors via court judgments when PDP was in power from 1999 to 2015, and I think it is most unfair to mock Atiku for choosing to exercise his democratic and constitutional right. As to whether or not he can win his case, why not wait for the courts to decide? Why pre-empt? It appears many of us still do not have the temperament for democracy in Nigeria.

The second strongest post-election response from the Pro-Atiku camp, which has been picked up and amplified by the international media, is that the results were reflective of the social strata and tendencies in the country. Infographs have been designed along this line of thinking: that the educated voted for Atiku and the uneducated preferred Buhari; that the lovers of prosperity chose Atiku and the lovers of poverty trooped out for Buhari; that earners of higher income were in love with Atiku and the wretched of the earth stood firmly by Buhari. I have seen maps being circulated to support this thinking. Many foreign journalists and analysts have bought fully into it.
Any student of statistics will tell you a guiding principle: that correlation is not the same thing as causation.

If PDP wins the 11 states in the south-east and south-south, it may have nothing to do with the levels of education, poverty, violence or income. It may just be that the PDP is still very strong in those states. It may have more to do with their political leanings and traditional voting patterns rather than an addiction to university degrees. I don’t know. I can’t say. But just sitting down in our living rooms and drawing conclusions from election data without a proper survey of the voters themselves might turn out to be unhelpful.

In the first place, you have to choose one argument. You have to either argue that Atiku won the election but it was rigged or that voters made the wrong choices by not preferring prosperity, which Atiku is said to represent, to poverty, of which Buhari is meant to be the poster boy — in the opinion of these analysts. If you believe the election was rigged, how can you go ahead to say Buhari won because the uneducated, unenlightened and wretched Nigerians voted for him? That would be contradictory. Also, you cannot argue that the wretched re-elected Buhari and still maintain that the election was rigged. You just have to pick one line of argument.

If we are to go by the educated vs uneducated parameter used by some analysts in their post-election commentaries, then we will end up confused. In the south-west, for instance, APC won four of the six states. Should we conclude that the majority of the south-westerners are illiterates and poverty-lovers for voting APC? In 2015, five south-west states voted APC. In 2011, five south-west states voted for PDP. Should we say south-westerners were educated and prosperity-loving in 2011 but became illiterates in 2015 and 2019? In states such as Benue and Oyo where votes were almost evenly split between PDP and APC, how do we separate the literate from the illiterate?

Correlation is definitely not causation. In 2011, the south-east gave 4,985,246 votes to PDP. The figure dropped to 2,464,906 in 2015 (when the PDP controlled all the instruments of power, including the security agencies). In 2019, the tally for PDP further dropped to 1,693,485. I do not want to believe the south-east has been falling in love with poverty and illiteracy since 2011. There may be another reason the voter turn-out has been dropping. Between 2011 and 2015, PDP lost a total of 2,520,340 votes in the south-east in the presidential election — even with a sitting PDP government at Aso Rock. We need to be more sophisticated in our thinking.

I am beginning to come to the conclusion that we only have some respect for democracy in Nigeria when the outcome of an election conforms to our bias. I remember when President Buhari lost to President Jonathan in 2011, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which did not have any presence beyond the core northern states, kept insisting they won. In fact, CPC said there was a bug in INEC computers that was deducting Buhari’s votes. CPC questioned the results from the south-east and south-south, where Jonathan scored 97% of total votes cast. The reverse is not the case: PDP is questioning the results from the north-west and north-east.

What is the conclusion of the matter? Those who believe the 2019 presidential poll was rigged should stick to their position and support Atiku in his litigation. Nobody should say “it is a waste of time”. No litigation is ever a waste of time. Some improvements we have witnessed in our electoral system were influenced by previous legal experiences. For instance, the principle of “substantial compliance” came into being in 1979 when Chief Obafemi Awolowo mounted a legal challenge against Alhaji Shehu Shagari. It is relied upon by the courts till today. There is a reason our laws provide for post-election petitions. Atiku should be supported to exercise his options.

Those who cast the election as a battle between literacy and illiteracy should also stick to their story. They are inevitably saying the election was not rigged. They are only saying the outcome was reflective of the preference of the majority of voters, whom they consider to be illiterates and lovers of poverty. That means 15.1 million illiterates re-elected Buhari while 11.2 million professors voted for Atiku. This narrative is condescending, no doubt, and reinforces inherited prejudices and biases against certain sections of the country — but at least it represents the mindset of some analysts. My only problem with that is the abuse and misuse of statistics that readily comes with such a mindset.

However, when the emotions of the presidential election have cooled, I would advise the protagonists and antagonists to take a second look at the figures both retrospectively and introspectively. The APC should ask itself: is this really an endorsement of our performance or a mere benefit of the cult followership that Buhari enjoys in some parts of the country? Could we have turned out this performance if Buhari was not our presidential candidate? Should we gloat or keep our feet on the ground, knowing the enormous tasks ahead? Are there expectations from Nigerians tied to this victory? What do we owe to the millions who re-elected us into office?

The PDP, as the biggest opposition party, should also ask itself the critical questions: what did we not get right? Where did the rain begin to beat us? Did we overrate our chances? Was it just the incumbency factor that worked against us? Why has the voting trend for us in the south-east been on a downward spiral? How did we descend from the height of having 24 governors at some point in Nigeria’s history to having just 13 today? What did we do wrong? How can we rebuild faith with Nigerians? No doubt, we need a very strong opposition party in Nigeria. It is in the interest of our democracy. Going forward, therefore, the protagonists and antagonists need self-appraisal.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
VOTER APATHY

From indications, voter turnout for Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections was lower than we saw in the February 23 presidential poll. Why? There would be many reasons. I think one of them is the sequence of elections. If I had my way, we would do state elections first and the presidential election last. That is a way of building momentum and generating interest in the elections. But I understand the politics of it all: if governors secure their own positions first, they may not work hard for the president two weeks later! That is why election sequence has always been a battle from the days of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Anti-climax.

MILITARISED ELECTIONS

Does anybody still remember when the All Progressives Congress (APC) used to kick against the deployment of soldiers for elections? The defence of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) then was that the deployment was necessary to secure the peace and avoid bloodshed. An APC lawmaker even went to court and won. Students of history should find it amusing that with APC now in control, the militarisation of elections has continued. There is always a reason to justify it: to safeguard lives and property and prevent violence, you know the rest. Give the average Nigerian politician state power and he is likely to use it the same way. It is the same difference. #APCPDP.

JUDICIAL PRIMARIES

Many of us have simplistic theories on why Nigeria remains backward in the comity of nations but we don’t need to be too hard on ourselves: it is just that we are not like any other people on earth. It is only in Nigeria that candidates of political parties are determined by the courts. The moment our politicians and lawyers figured out how they could use and abuse the laws of the land, it has become fashionable for them to engage the courts to play the role of political parties by determining who is a candidate and who is not. The courts are supposed to serve the cause of justice, we cannot deny that, but why must our own case in Nigeria be always upside down? Mystery.

AND FINALLY…

Election times can be very stressful and even life-threatening in Nigeria, but many people are making lemonade from the lemon. In affluent neighbourhoods, people set up canopies, play music and do barbeque while waiting to be accredited and while voting goes on. But you have to do a thumbs-up to the lively woman in Enugu, said to be a teacher, who came with a pillow and a mat to her polling unit during the presidential and national assembly elections. On Saturday, she turned up again for the governorship and house of assembly polls with more than a mat and a pillow: she brought Whot for a game of cards with fellow voters. Life is too short. Have fun. Chill.

Source: ThisDay

Big four, big fall

Big four, big fall

By Olukorede Yishau

Dr. Bukola Saraki. Godswill Akpabio. George Akume. Abiola Ajimobi. These four political leaders fell last weekend. Their bid to return to the National Assembly was thwarted by lesser known politicians. Saraki, Senate President and ex-Kwara State two-term governor, fell to Yahaya Oloriegbe. Akpabio was beaten hands down by Chris Ekpeyong, a former deputy governor to Obong Victor Attah. Akume, an ex-governor of Benue State and All Progressives Congress (APC) leader there, was defeated by Orker Jev. And Abiola Ajimobi, Oyo State Governor, lost to Kola Balogun —the younger brother of one of the new obas in Ibadan.

Saraki, Akpabio and Akume are sitting senators. Ajimobi was a senator before becoming governor and was cocksure he would become senator once more contrary to a prayer he once said that there was no position he craved again after leading Oyo.

Saraki’s fall is the loudest. He was the undisputed leader of Kwara politics – a position he hijacked from his father, the late Olusola Saraki, who was Senate Leader in the Second Republic. While Saraki was serving out his second term, his father wanted his younger sister, Gbemi, to succeed him. The younger Saraki would have none of it. He stood up to his father. So fierce was the battle that his father had to abandon the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for him and tried to install his daughter through a lesser known party. As it turned out, the younger Saraki triumphed by installing outgoing Governor AbdulFatai Ahmed. The political feud was settled thereafter. It, however, was not long after that the Second Republic Senate Leader joined his ancestors. But what was clear to all was that the son had displaced the father as the new strongman of Kwara politics.

As senator and later as senate president, everybody knew where power was in Kwara. Ahmed never failed to acknowledge Saraki as his leader. House of Assembly members knew who to pay allegiance to, and House of Representatives members worshipped the ground on which the ex-bank top gun walked.

Will Saraki spring a surprise in the governorship election by ensuring Razaq Atunwa, the PDP candidate, is elected to replace Ahmed? If this happens, it will be a major victory for him, but the omens are scary. The people of the state seem set to complete the enough is enough (o to gee) cycle.

Like Saraki, Akpabio was lord in Akwa Ibom. When he sneezed, many caught cold. But his fall began not long after he installed Udom Emmanuel as his successor. When the signs started showing, I wrote a piece titled Emmanuel’s Will on Friday, August 28, 2015. In it, I pointed out that Emmanuel was acting as though he was afraid of a fight with Akpabio. Aniekan Umanah, who was the Commissioner for Information at the time, was livid in his reply to me. In his rejoinder, he said it was “really appalling that one so often gets to read some gibberish in newspapers, all in the name of commentaries or opinion”.

He declared with a note of finality: “I will not allay Yishau’s fear about the strong camaraderie existing between the duo of Their Excellencies, Governor Emmanuel and former Governor Akpabio. They are not going to fight anytime soon or later as you wish. Indeed, for those who are waiting to be entertained with a fight by both leaders, they should prepare for a long wait.”

We certainly did not have to wait too much. Interestingly, when the fight broke open, Umanah was one of the first victims when he and other Akpabio men were eased out of government. Umanah re-aligned with time. He is now with Emmanuel. He won an House of Representatives seat on Saturday.

The uncommon governor, as Akpabio liked to address himself, has had an uncommon fall. We were expecting he would help President Muhammadu Buhari win Akwa Ibom. He could not help himself, not to talk of helping Buhari. He fell in an uncommon manner.

Akpabio’s fall has seemingly confirmed what his first deputy governor, Patrick Ekpotu, said last August. Ekpotu, in a statement, said his former boss’s influence was overrated.

Ekpotu, who was Commissioner for Information under Attah, said Akpabio’s defection was “long awaited”, and showed that he was incapable of operating within an opposition platform because of “his usual reliance on force of power apparatus”.

He said: “His recourse is often to rely heavily on apparatus of state security to cow people into submission and dominion. His decision to embrace the APC now, among others, is because APC is today the custodian of that state apparatus. And I think he is highly mistaken for misapprehending that President Buhari is cut out in the weaknesses of a former President that was recklessly used to his political peril and became the first to dump him.”

Ekpotu went on: “Even if Buhari avails him the security apparatus, remember that Akpabio is not used to elections, which is the norm today, but ‘return of entire number of votes’ in INEC register to himself.

“But With INEC’s card reader system today, hardly would we have such number of votes in consideration, let alone to be ‘returned’. So, all odds are against him and the APC.”

In that statement Ekpotu added that a shock awaited the former Senate Minority leader, saying: “A journey into that past rather evokes disdain and repugnance following its glaring shortcomings to which the people had long answered objections and cannot allow a replay, no matter where Akpabio derived his inspiration. I see, not just the PDP in the state, but also majority of its citizens playing this out strongly, stoutly, and committedly in days ahead.”

Akpabio, Ekpotu observed, is “surrounded by those who constantly drum to him the beauty of his weird world, he gets encouraged to live in delusion. He is fully conscious of these shortcomings, but rather than work to improve on them, pretends that all is well. And APC will soon know his true value.”

Now, the question is: is there any miracle Akpabio can still perform in the March 9 election to ensure that Emmanuel is replaced with Nsima Ekere? The omens are scary, really scary.

Akume, like Akpabio and Saraki, was governor. He was governor from 1999 to 2007, and has been in the Senate since then. He installed Samuel Ortom as Benue State governor. Some months back, Ortom dumped APC for PDP. Akume remained and vowed to deal with his estranged godson. In his heydays, anybody who wanted political power in Benue sought him out. I doubt if that will still play out with his fall to Jev. If not for Jev, he would have been in the Senate for the fourth time.

Ajimobi’s case is a bit different from the trio. As a sitting governor, many thought Ajimobi should easily win election in one senatorial district. But he lost and certainly life after May 29 will never be the same again. Even if APC wins the governorship, the pain of loss will have its political effect on Ajimobi, who may now have to battle Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu for the state’s ministerial slot.

Shittu and Ajimobi have never been on the same page. Shittu wanted to be governor, but was screened out by the national secretariat of the party for skipping National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). He became a minister despite Ajimobi’s objection. I see a major fight ahead of these two sworn enemies!

My final take: In politics, falling is not a sweet music, especially for giants such as Saraki, Akpabio, Akume and Ajimobi. Their fall is only sonorous in the ears of their opponents and adversaries. I urge them to be humble now that they are low, as advised by John Bunyan, so that they shall ever have God as guide.

Credit: The Nation

Why Atiku lost: An analytical dissection of the 2019 Presidential election

Why Atiku lost: An analytical dissection of the 2019 Presidential election

Mayowa Oladeji

To ascribe the defeat suffered by Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 Presidential election to massive rigging is mental laziness.

To also describe the 2015 election that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power as perfectly free and fair is a distortion of history. The election was given the toga of credibility because the opposition won the election.

The headline on one of the online media on 13th February 2015 screamed, “58 Nigerians killed in 2015 pre-election violence so far – Rights Commission.”

The National Human Rights commission had released a report on pre-election violence in parts of the country and especially in some key flashpoints.

On the 17th of February again, another headline read, “Explosions, gunshots disrupt APC rally in Patience Jonathan’s home town.”

The intention is not to justify the horrific violence that greeted the election, but history is not about morality or passing judgement but recording events, so that lessons could be learnt.

The 2015 election result was disputed by the ruling party, at the National Collation Centre In Abuja.

A former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe had accused the-then Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) boss, Prof Attahiru Jega of colluding with the opposition, so the election was not without blemish.

This election like 2015 is not perfect, but there are several factors that worked against the opposition party, most they could have mitigated, but for reasons best known to them, they failed to be proactive.

Five things that cost Atiku the election
Poor winning strategy for North Central
Atiku campaign team placed their hopes on anger in the Middle Belt over herders/farmers clashes. Emotion is never a reliable strategy, while it is a useful too, it’s unstable, that is what transpired in that Presidential election on Saturday, February 23rd 2019.

Most pundits never expected the votes that came from Benue, Plateau and Kogi states, what was shocking was, no message nor structure tailored to harvest the discontent of the people with the ruling party from aforementioned states.

In Kogi for instance, Sen Ahmed Ogembe and Sen Attai Idoko should have been given the needed support, because if they had performed well just like Sen Dino Melaye did, Atiku would have benefitted. No one has ever won the presidential election without winning North-Central.

Despite being obvious that the PDP was heading for defeat in Kwara due to the anger towards Saraki, the party never had any strategy to checkmate the fallout of the ‘O to ge’ movement other than chest-tumping on national television. The ruling party ended up wining North Central with 2.1m to 1.6m, almost the same margin as 2.4m to 1.7m of 2015.

Non usage of incidence form
Since 2011, the quantity of votes in the South East has continued to experience decline. The effect was less felt in 2015 due to the use of incidence form, but with the elimination of incidence form, the effect was devastating for the major stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Total votes for the PDP dropped by about 400,000, while the ruling party increased its votes from 198,000 to 403,000. Before we jump into conclusions, only the North East had an increase in this election, but Atiku also benefited from the increase.

Both the APC and the PDP had a 400,000 increase each to their 2015 figures in the North East, so if the party had positioned itself, it could have benefitted from the increase in the North East votes.

Worst hit by the elimination of incidence form is the South South region, where Rivers, Delta and Akwa-Ibom all polled over 1m votes each.

What changed was the elimination of incidence form and presence of strong members of the ruling party in those states, from Akpabio to Omo-agege and the likes.

The governors in those states were lukewarm in their participation in delivering the candidate of their party.

Voting schedule
During the electoral amendment saga, the main issue was the proposed amendment to make the Presidential election the last election.

The President rejected that bill on three occasions. What, that decision saved the president. For instance, the president benefited from the legislative election in places he would ordinarily not have had any vote. For instance in Bayelsa, the president benefited from Senate and Reps elections. Indeed, the ruling party picked up a Senate seat and two Reps seats.

This also reflected in the Presidential election also. If the election were to be between Atiku and Buhari, it would have been annihilation for the incumbent, but local elections benefitted the President.

Atiku also benefited from the schedule. In Oyo and Ondo states, he benefited from from the work done by Kola Balogun and the revolt against Governor Abiola Ajumobi. If this strategy of supporting APC Senatorial and Representatives candidates had been deployed in the North East and NorthWest, probably the result would have been different.

IDP Camp voting
In the aftermath of the election, many were left wondering why Borno and Yobe states had electoral surge – look no further. Before the elections, INEC has revealed that voting arrangmenit had been made for 409,813 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to vote in Boko Haram-ravaged areas.

One would have expected the PDP to work hard in those places to prevent the political massacre it suffered.

The campaign
The ruling party campaigned as though it was in opposition, touring the 36 states of the federation, with Osinbajo doing his door-to-door campaign and the President and the party doing mega rallies.

Also on social media, the likes of Kayode Ogundamisi were doing the dirty job while Tolu Ogunlesi focused on informing the people on infrastructural achievements of the government, this strategy would be winning template for years to come.

And the wisdom in having Festus Keyamo, a South South man and Senior Advocate of Nigeria as the spokesperson of the presidential campaign was novelty, as against the PDP that had about 6 spokespersons and Kola Ologbondiyan.

However, the opposition party allowed people who should not be around the campaign, like Reno Omokri, Femi Fani Kayode, Ayo Fayose to run riot. These are persons who have expressed anti-Northern statements in the past.

The campaign easily turned into an anti-North campaign, this situation easily fired up the core North.

Whoever suggested this strategy to the party cost the party a golden opportunity to dislodge a president whose popularity had waned significantly.

Going Forward or Backward?

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu

 By Simon-Kolawole, Email: simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com, sms: 0805 500 1961

Going Forward or Backward?

The conduct of the 2019 general election has, expectedly, become the subject of heated discussions and debates everywhere — offices, schools, homes, newspaper vendor stands and social media. Predictably, supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari are satisfied with the outcome which favoured their candidate, while those in the corner of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the flag bearer of the leading opposition party, have questioned the integrity of the elections. In the opinion of Buhari’s supporters, the overall result reflected the wishes of Nigerians. Atiku’s supporters are, however, crying foul. Like Buhari did thrice, Atiku will challenge the outcome in court.

In December 2018, I made presentations on the 2019 presidential election to a group of corporate executives in Lagos and thereafter to my colleagues at TheCable. I started my projections with the south-west. I said Buhari was not more popular in the zone today than he was in 2015, and that he would win there but with a narrower margin. I was right. His 612,000 margin of 2015 was reduced to 260,000. I also said Atiku would get more votes from the south-west than Buhari would get from the south-south and south-east combined. I was also right. Atiku got 1.77m from the south-west while Buhari scored 1.4m in the south-south and the south-east put together.

I projected that the north-central would go Atiku’s way. I was wrong. Buhari got 2.46 million votes — taking four out of the six states like he did in 2015 — while Atiku scored 2.02 million. To be honest, I never saw that coming. I was thinking more about pre-2015 voting patterns and the recent herders/farmers clashes — although, on hindsight, I would say only Benue and Plateau are really in the thick of the crisis. The development in Kwara is historic — the Saraki dynasty finally fell. Or did it? Given that Senator Gbemisola Saraki is in APC and her brother, Senate President Bukola Saraki, is in PDP, it may be a case of the baton changing from one Saraki to the other. Watch this space.

On the north-east, I still remember my words: “I don’t know what Buhari gave them to eat, but he will always win in Borno, Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi. They have always voted for him since 2003.” Someone who hails from that axis looked at me in a way that showed he disagreed. The thinking was that because Boko Haram was still very much alive, the people are disappointed with Buhari and would vote against him. I said it does not work like that. It is a devotion to Buhari. Most people’s minds were made up long ago. And I was right. I also said Atiku would win Adamawa and Taraba. I was right, but I exaggerated his margins. The two states were more competitive than I projected.

I moved to the north-west and reasoned that the zone would determine the overall winner. I said Buhari always does well in the north-west — which has the highest number of states and highest number of votes in the country. I, however, said unlike in 2015 when Buhari rolled over Jonathan by over five million votes in the zone, he would not beat Atiku by the same margin. Was I right? Buhari defeated Atiku nationwide by 3.9 million votes — but in the north-west alone, he had 3.7 million more than Atiku! If you are thinking what I am thinking, you would agree with me that the north-west is the real deal. It has always been so since 1999. Seven states cannot be a joke!

Nevertheless, I got my conclusion wrong. I predicted a “very tight” race and said the winning margin could be in hundreds of thousands or at most a million. I was completely wrong, judging by the final results announced by INEC. A margin of 3.9 million votes is not the definition of “tight”. In the end, Buhari has held on to his traditional base in the far north, made gains in the south-south and south-east (from 616,838 votes in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2019), maintained his new base in the north-central and just managed to keep the south-west on his side. Those are my preliminary observations on the official results.

A PDP supporter is reading this and calling my analysis “bunkum”. Atiku himself has described the election as “the worst” since 1999 — a dubious distinction previously conferred on the 2007 polls when people hardly voted. There are various complaints of malpractices, all boiling down to allegations of voter suppression in Atiku’s strongholds and vote inflation in Buhari’s safe havens. The role of the military in the south-south has also been questioned by Atiku, who believes it was responsible for the low figures from Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom. I am happy that these grievances will be addressed in the courts rather than on the streets. We have shed enough blood in this land.

While this controversy rages, I want to offer a critical overview of the first half of the 2019 elections. Have we regressed or progressed — compared to four years ago? For starters, more voters were registered and more PVCs were collected but the turn-out was lower. Total votes cast were less and total ballots rejected were more. This is not progress, if you ask me. It is not a good testimony that 5.5 million collected PVCs in Lagos and only 1.1 million voted. The shortfall is ridiculous. The disrupted votes in Ago and Surulere were in thousands, so it cannot explain the low turnout in Lagos. We have to explain the voter apathy despite all the noise on social media and the like.

Despite the postponement of the elections by one week for logistical reasons, there were still reports of late arrival of materials, missing result sheets, multiple voting, manual accreditation and other issues. Many will argue that these issues were not widespread enough to undermine the final outcome, but INEC needs to step up. I also thought the final results of the presidential election should have been announced earlier than Wednesday morning. I reckoned that we held three elections same day, had nearly 100 political parties on the ballots, and voting closed at 6pm — not at 2pm as it was in 2015. These factors caused delays. We need to improve the speed.

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It is also very important for us to take a second look at the number of parties taking part in the presidential election. It’s becoming a joke. I think there is confusion somewhere. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that INEC does not have the power to deny political parties registration because the constitution guarantees “freedom of association”. However, the court did not say they must participate in presidential elections. We need a regulation that says for a party to participate in the presidential election, it must meet some requirements. For one, I would suggest that a party must have won at least a seat in the House of Reps in a previous election.

Furthermore, I was very sad about the reported intimidation of voters of Igbo origin at Ago in Lagos. As someone with interest in how we can intelligently manage our ethnic and religious differences for the sake of the peace and progress of Nigeria, I see no sense in trying to suppress the political choice of anybody. If Yoruba leaders would not tolerate the intimidation of their kith and kin in other parts of Nigeria, why should they endorse same of other ethnic groups in Lagos? It all boils down to my diagnosis of the Nigerian problem: the manipulation of our differences for political gain disguised as group interest. Why set Nigeria on fire because of personal ambitions? That’s backward.

Finally, I remember telling my colleagues at TheCable two days to the election that unfortunately, many people would die because of these elections. I stood right in front of them in the newsroom and declared: “Guys, by this time next week, there will be many dead bodies, most of them poor and lowly people, because of these elections. No politician is worth dying for.” As at last count, the body bags were in excess of 20. What a waste. What a needless waste. This is not a sign of progress. Sadly, it has become part of our political culture for lives to be wasted. The winners will enjoy their booty. The losers will reconcile with the winners. Life goes on. The dead die in vain. Shame.

It was not all bad news though. Judging by the voting figures from 2015 and 2019, I think we are finally getting to the real voting population of Nigeria. Obasanjo scored 24 million in 2003, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua also got 24 million in 2007 while Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had 22 million in 2011. However, since the introduction of biometric voter cards and electronic accreditation in 2015, the winning figures have come down to 15 million and the winning margins are becoming more reasonable. I have always believed we sex up figures in Nigeria. I don’t believe our population is up to 190 million. We cannot be more than 120 million. The truth is coming out gradually.

In all, I do not believe we made enough progress with our elections this year compared to 2015. INEC is still basically a shambles in terms of logistics. Voter intimidation remains in some places. Violence and deaths are still features of voting in Nigeria. State institutions, such as EFCC and security agencies, are still not neutral. Voter turn-out remains disappointing — it should be going up, not coming down. Why should we have more registered voters, higher PVC collection rate and less voter turn-out? When the dust has settled, INEC needs to commission a study on this. But let me end this discussion on an optimistic note: cheer up, it could have been worse!

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…

HOT SEAT
President Buhari lost the two Presidential Villa polling units to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by a margin of 17 votes (1,030/1,013). This came as a shock to many, but the Aso Rock jinx is real. Sitting presidents hardly win there. In 2015, Buhari defeated Jonathan 613-595 — a margin of 18 votes. In 2003 and 2007, Buhari won the Presidential Villa against the PDP. Jonathan had broken the jinx in 2011 when, as president, he defeated Buhari by 1,232 votes to 696. The conventional wisdom is that a sitting president should ordinarily enjoy the votes of those who live within and around the premises of power, but only once has that happened in this democratic dispensation. Jinxed!

HOME DISADVANTAGE
Am I the only one who found it amusing that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Jide Sanwo-Olu and Mr. Jimi Agbaje all lost their polling units in the presidential election? Of the lot, it must be quite humiliating that Atiku was not supported by his Yola neighbours. In December 1998, Obasanjo lost his Abeokuta ward in the local government poll, but managed to win his polling unit in subsequent elections, although he could not win Ogun or any other south-west state in the presidential poll. Is this a case of prophets not having honour at home — or prophets not popular enough on their own streets? Goodness!

SPREAD OUT
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar won 13 of the 17 southern states, while Buhari won 14 of the 19 up north. Atiku did not win any of the three northern geo-political zones, while Buhari claimed the south-west. Atiku had a better spread: he won at least two states in five zones. Buhari did not win any state in two southern zones, but he did far better than expected in the south-south and south-east, thus having more spread in 2019 than 2015. Buhari’s spread this time around suggests that he is finally burying the electoral baggage that hovered around him for over a decade. Now, he has to run an all-inclusive government as he promised after his victory. Imperative.

  
Credit: ThisDay

AND FINALLY…
Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Zamfara state, angrily ejected refugees from his shelters after the February 26 elections. He could not believe they still voted for the All Progressives Congress (APC) despite their condition. He said: “I have asked all the IDPs residing in my Shinkafi houses to immediately pack out because they are not serious in life. These are people who had to leave their villages due to insecurity caused by a government that could not provide such basic necessity to them, yet they went and sold their votes trying to bring back the same gang.” Devotion.

Factors that led to Saraki’s fall

ANALYSIS: 13 factors that ‘triggered’ Saraki’s fall in Kwara

Oladeinde Olawoyin

Senate President, Bukola Saraki
On Saturday, Senate President Bukola Saraki lost in his bid to return to the Senate.

In the National Assembly elections held in Kwara Central Senatorial District, Mr Saraki, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost to Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The returning officer, Olawole Obiyemi, a professor of human kinetics education at the University of Ilorin, said Mr Saraki polled 68,994 votes while Mr Oloriegbe poled 123, 808 votes.

Mr Oloriegbe was thereafter declared the senator-elect in Kwara Central Senatorial District.

Aside from losing his bid, the Senate president lost all four of the local governments in his senatorial district and could not deliver his local government and state to PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Tsunami
Similarly, Mr Saraki’s numerous allies and anointed candidates lost in all of the seats contested in the state as the APC won all three senatorial positions and all of the House of Representatives seats across the state.

Analysts opine that the development puts an end to Mr Saraki’s hegemonic influence in Kwara politics, which began effectively in 2011 after he displaced his late father, Olusola Saraki.

PREMIUM TIMES observes that a number of factors helped the opposition displace the Senate President and his party, the PDP, in the state. This newspaper hereby highlights the factors that triggered his fall in Kwara politics.

1. Unpaid Salaries
By far the most potent weapon the opposition used against the Senate president and his party was the issue of unpaid salaries. People affected include teachers, local government officials and pensioners, among others.

The Kwara State Government has for long had protracted battles with workers in the state over unpaid salaries.

There have been a series of protests in the past over the issue.

In 2017, an advocacy group, Kwara Must Change, claimed that the rate of suicides among Kwara civil servant was high because of unpaid salary arrears.

Last September, teachers In the state threatened to embark on strike over welfare issues.

While Mr Saraki is not the current state governor, having served in that position between 2003 and 2011, residents of the state hardly separate the Abdulfatah Ahmed-led state government’s performance from the Senate president.

In effect, he is widely seen as immensely influential in the decision-making process of the Kwara government. Due to the harsh economic conditions thrown up by the unpaid salary controversies, it was all but easy for the opposition to ride on this wave and convince affected people to vote out the PDP.

2. Kwara South opposition/Oke-Ero bye-election
Offa, a major town in Kwara South, is considered the home of opposition in Kwara politics. From the second republic through the third and the current dispensation, the town is known for standing shoulder high against the Saraki dynasty.

Politicians from the town, notably Sunday Olawoyin, a leading disciple of the late Obafemi Awolowo, were known to have stood in the “progressive” camp, standing as the nemesis of the Saraki establishment.

The struggle that resulted in Mr Saraki’s fall on Saturday is said to have its root in Offa and other parts of Kwara South, beginning with the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal constituency bye-election which the APC won in 2018. But shortly before the bye-election, the anti-Saraki sentiment in the town was however intensified by the Offa robbery debacle of April 2018.

3. Offa Robbery Debacle
In April 2018, police officers, residents and bank customers were murdered in a robbery operation that lasted for over an hour in Offa, Kwara State.

The robbers blew up entrances into the banks with dynamite, before carting away money from about five banks, then killing scores of people.

By June, suspects arrested by the police allegedly implicated Mr Saraki in their confessional statements, Jimoh Moshood, Force Public Relations Officer, said.

A slew of controversial developments, including evidence presented by police, would later raise public concern about Mr Saraki and the Kwara State Governor’s involvement in the debacle.

Offa, Omu-Aran, Erin-Ile and other adjoining communities have for years been at the mercy of bank robbers, especially during Yuletide periods. Although the Senate president denied all allegations, it did little to address the negative opinion formed against him by the people, which the opposition latched on.

A resident told PREMIUM TIMES on the eve of the election that, based on the developments, the people are not convinced the Senate president (and Kwara State Government) had no connection with the suspects.

4. Defection to PDP
In July, Senate President Bukola Saraki defected to the PDP, alongside Kwara Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. Mr Ahmed, like Mr Saraki, said he defected “having realised that the All Progressive Congress (APC) can longer serve as a platform for achieving the aspirations and expectations” of his people.

Mr Saraki joined the APC on January 29, 2014, after falling out with the then PDP government, led by President Goodluck Jonathan. Shortly after his defection, a huge number of PDP chieftains in the state defected into the APC en masse.

Mr Saraki’s defection to PDP, analysts said, made him vulnerable in the hands of the opposition APC, which controlled the government at the centre.

5. ‘Federal Might’
In all of the Saraki dynasty’s electoral battles since 2003, it never worked against the government at the centre, except in 2015. In 2003, the late Olusola Saraki supported his son, Bukola, on the platform of the then ruling PDP. The younger Saraki sought re-election in 2007 and installed his candidate, Mr Ahmed, in 2011––on the platform of same ruling party.

In 2015, although Mr Saraki’s political camp worked against the Jonathan-led PDP government, it was widely believed that the people also embraced the APC.

In last Saturday’s election, the absence of federal support exposed the weaknesses of the Saraki camp, especially in Asa Local Government and other places rumoured to be its “rigging stronghold”, which the opposition exploited.

6. ‘ Ilorin’s allied forces’
For decades, one of the reasons why anti-Saraki dynasty electoral battles in Kwara State have always been lost is that they were most often championed by people outside of Ilorin, the state capital. From John Dara through Lai Mohammed to Simeon Ajibola, people outside of Ilorin rarely pull the crowd for reasons analysts opine may be cultural and ethno-religious solidarity.

In the last election, however, many of those considered the backbone of the Saraki winning machinery in the heart of Ilorin were recruited into what the APC called the “struggle to liberate Kwara”.

With Lai Mohammed and APC governorship aspirant, Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman leading the pack, Saraki’s ex-loyalists including Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Yinka Aluko, Moshood Mustapha, Cook Olododo and others like Yahaya Seriki, Abdulyekeen Alajagusi were on the ground in the emirate city to deliver for APC.

7. Religious propaganda
Although its use always raises questions, propaganda plays a key role in elections in Nigeria.

In Kwara, one tactic used against the Senate president was to question his Islamic faith. “People think he is not a Muslim but only deceives Ilorin with that identity. Some of our people now call him ‘Gideon’,” a voter who declined to have his name in print told PREMIUM TIMES in Post Office area of the city days before the election.

Ilorin is a deeply religious society and some of the people connected with it and spread the claim, without confirming its veracity.

On the other hand, the APC also appealed to the Christian population, using its “O to ge” mantra. Shortly after the election was postponed, Kayode Alabi, APC deputy governorship candidate visited churches in Ilorin to canvass for support wherein he recited Bible verses containing the “o to ge” mantra.

There are also allegations of being “arrogant”, “aloof” and other character flaws levelled against the Senate president which the opposition amplified.

8 Kwara North revolt
Kwara north is generally considered to be the most underdeveloped part of Kwara State. Besides, the region considers itself the most ‘politically marginalised’ part of the state in its struggle to produce the state governor.

In the buildup to the election, youth in the region were reported to be violent toward the Saraki dynasty. In Kaiama, Ilesa-Baruba and other parts of Kwara North, random videos showed how the people rejected the PDP in its campaign across communities in the district.

Troubled by the rejection the party witnessed across the region, reports said Mr Saraki promised to zone the governorship position to the region in 2023.

The moves, however, did little to sway voters’ decision as results from the region showed that the people embraced the APC and rejected the PDP.

The party swept all legislative seats with wide margin and residents voted massively for APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.

9. Influence of local media
When the history of the fall of Mr Saraki and the PDP in the state is documented, local media especially those owned by opposition politicians would get a mention.

Abu Abdullahi, a member of the APC in the state, told PREMIUM TIMES that affairs of the state have largely been kept in secrecy for years until the opposition had alternative media to air their grievances.

“They (PDP/Saraki) controlled state-owned media houses in the past and people had no access to information that affect them,” Mr Abdullahi said in Yoruba. He added, however, that with the emergence of independent radio stations, the people were informed about “the various excesses of the PDP government,” unlike in the past.

PREMIUM TIMES observed that in Ilorin, Sobi FM remains one popular private radio station considered the people’s favourite, especially because of its newspaper review programme “Feli-feli”. The station, owned by APC guber aspirant, Lukman Mustapha, has had to shake off allegations of partisanship.

“The opposition didn’t have access to the state government-owned Radio Kwara so they started with Harmony FM, but with many other stations now available, the people are better informed,” Mr Abdullahi added.

10. ‘O to ge’ – The APC ‘revolutionary’ campaign mantra
As far as the 2019 general election is concerned, the Kwara APC “O to ge!” mantra would go down as the most potent campaign mantra.

PREMIUM TIMES observes that one unique aspect of the “O to ge” campaign is the ‘revolutionary’ tone it took, with most politically conscious Kwarans seeing the movement as one meant for “liberation”.

The campaign was so infectious that residents in the state expressed it in different forms, with motorcycle riders and cab drivers popularly using the horn of their cars and motorcycles to make the sound in the city centre.

Although the Kwara APC was careful about labelling the Saraki family largely because of the involvement of Gbemisola Saraki in their campaign, the subtle campaign narrative that appealed to the people centred on the ‘revolutionary’ need to end the Saraki hegemony in the state. PDP’s ‘O tun ya’ response did little to dilute the potency of the mantra.

On Saturday, immediately after Mr Saraki was declared to have lost out in the election, those present at the INEC office ended the session with “solidarity” songs typical of student revolutionary struggles.

11. Corruption Allegations
In August, the APC listed what it called Mr Saraki’s long list of corruption cases. Among the ‘cases’ listed were allegations of fraud which led to the collapse of Société Générale Bank; alleged illegal receipt of salary from Kwara State treasury after leaving office; misappropriation of Kwara State funds; the various revelations in the Panama and Paradise Papers investigations, among others.

Mr Saraki’s political career has been defined largely by allegations of corrupt practices.

Although the concerns could be waved away as inconsequential, random interviews with residents of Ilorin before and after the election showed that some of the people were worried about the allegations and they indeed affected voters’ decision. “Workers who have not been paid salaries hear of billions and millions allegedly ‘looted’ by Saraki in the news and you expect them not to be worried? Something will give in,” said Abdulhakeem Adeyemi, a resident.

The APC also intensified its campaign using these allegations as a bulwark. It eventually succeeded in deepening the anti-Saraki feeling across the state.

12 The secret tape
Another factor that arguably contributed to the dent on Mr Saraki’s image in Kwara was the release of a November 2018 secret tape. In the tape, Mr Saraki was heard attributing his major grouse with President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to the alleged suffering of Kwara State indigenes due to the absence of federal appointments despite committing resources to the president’s electoral success in 2015.

Although the Senate president made the statements to appeal to pity and calm fraying nerves, claims that he paid money for election in 30 states did not go down well with some Kwarans. “Some collected N300 million, while some collected N400 million, some collected N200 million,” Mr Saraki was heard saying.

In the midst of unpaid salaries and grinding poverty, some residents said, such news items had domino effect on people’s perception. That was in addition to his numerous battles with Mr Buhari, whom a significant percentage of the people in the state still consider “honest and pro-poor”.

13. Obscene pension arrangement and alleged Illegal salaries
In May 2016, reports said the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja was informed of how Senate President Bukola Saraki continued to get paid his salary by the Kwara State Government after he had stepped down as the governor of the state on May 29, 2011. Details were also laid bare on the numerous lodgments and transfers made by Mr Saraki and his aide during his tenure as governor of the state, with some occurring several times in one day.

Michael Wetkas, an EFCC detective, claimed that Mr Saraki received monthly salaries from June 2011, when he left office as governor of the state, to August 2015 when he served as a senator. There were also reports of obsecene pension entitlements accruing to the Senate president. All of these were amplified in local media via their newspaper review programmes, often broadcast in Yoruba across radio stations in Kwara. Prominent among the programmes at the time was “PDP Gbode”, aired on Harmony FM, Idofian. When he defected into the PDP and earstwhile members of the party defected en masse into APC, the same programme philosophy was extended to Sobi FM’s prime-time programme, “O to ge!”

Mr Saraki’s perception troubles were compounded by these reports, even as Kwara battle with unpaid salaries. A building allegedly owned by the Senate president around the Government House area, GRA, was often pointed at by residents as “proceeds” of the obscene acquisitions. By the time the dust would settle, the people had made up their mind to send him and his loyalists packing. His moves to offset salary arrears owed workers and local chiefs did little to address the concern.

Credit: Premium Times