If you are a ‘Wailer’ or, better put, a little less enamored by the alleged integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari, you’ll be quick to jump to the conclusion that the outcome of the February 23 governorship elections is an indication that PMB did not win the Presidential election before it – at least, not as convincingly as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would have us believe.
But while not taking anything away from the position of those who insist the figures of the Presidential vote were creatively (and in some instances, not too creatively) sexed up, I also spare a thought for the “Hailers”, who believe Buhari won, fair and square. My position is informed by the fact that I, for one, hardly vote for the same party in both Presidential and governorship elections. While I’ve always voted AD, AC, CAN, APC for governorship in Lagos, it was only in 1999 (AD/APP alliance) that I voted for their Presidential candidate. So, if I could vote that way, why would I expect that all the people who voted APC on February 9, would still vote APC two weeks later?
That is why I’m not surprised that the Kano state, which “voted massively” for APC’s Buhari, would turn against Abdullahi Ganduje of the same APC. However, I also expected the APC leadership to accept this fact and let peace reign in the states, and not put unnecessary pressure on INEC to do the unthinkable by tweaking the will of the people, through curious supplementary polls.
Is it not the same politicians who tell us that every politics is local? Why are they finding it difficult to understand that while Kano people might accept Buhari, they might not accept Ganduje so wholeheartedly? Why can’t they understand that while Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s group could team up with Ganduje to deliver Buhari in Kano, it becomes a different kettle of fish when it comes to the governorship – which is local politics?
The same thing may have also played out in Bauchi, Sokoto and, to some extent, Peter Obi’s Anambra. I first got a hint of how Bauchi votes as far back as 2003, when Adamu Mu’azu was seeking re-election as PDP governor. Many of the voters, who always believed in Buhari, running for President on the platform of the ANPP, also wanted Mu’azu re-elected. They eventually voted ANPP for presidency, and PDP for governorship.
Some 15 years later, the trend has not changed much. Buhari still has a cult-like following in Bauchi. But that love for PMB has nothing to do with whom the electorate want to govern their state. In fact, on my return from a visit to the state last year, I commissioned a story on the coming governorship election. This was informed by the fact that I had seen several posters which had the photos of both Buhari (APC) and Sen. Bala Mohammed, the PDP governorship candidate. I suspected that while the voters might be unrepentantly pro-Buhari, they might be rooting for a PDP governor, in the stead of the amiable incumbent, M.A. Abubakar of the APC. Now, I don’t know if that is what ultimately played out, but it’s a possibility the APC leadership should live with, instead of nursing this morbid fear of the governorship result suggesting the Buhari victory was manipulated – even if PMB’s winning margin could ordinarily raise a few eyebrows.
This theory also, partly, explains what happened in Anambra state, when Atiku’s running mate comes from. Despite that the sitting governor, who is of APGA, and several other APC heavyweights, worked for Buhari, the people voted overwhelmingly for PDP (and even YPP) on February 9, but returned to their APGA cocoon during the state Assembly elections two weeks later.
It is foolhardy, therefore, for the APC and the presidency to expect that the governorship elections would mirror the results of the presidential election, most especially, when many of us have a few suspicions about how the presidential election figures may have been arrived at. But that is left to Atiku and PDP to prove or disprove.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to regain my sanity since INEC declared what it says are the results of the last general elections.
But my befuddlement is even less with the outcome than the process. Pray, what was the APC agenda in Rivers State? Anarchy? State of emergency? Interim government? If neither of its two foremost governorship aspirants (before the party shot itself in the foot)stood any serious chance of defeating Wike, what made the APC believe it could now unseat the governor with a fourth class AAC alliance, after the second-rate alliance with the Accord Party came crashing before it could even be consummated?
What parallel election was Burutai’s Nigerian Army conducting in Rivers and Bayelsa? Ballot of bullets? Why were those two states singled out? If the original plan was to prevent the traditional massive votes PDP usually harvested from those areas did not come in, to torpedo PMB’s re-election bid, why was the army siege extended to the governorship election, when Buhari was no longer on the ballot?
What really happened in Imo? Benue? Nasarawa? Which ingenious engineer fabricated the figures from Kaduna, Borno, Delta, Zamfara and Yobe – and in record time too? How come the security challenge which made it impossible for the governor of Yobe (with all the police and military protection) to cast his vote, could not stop the citizenry in those insurgent-controlled areas from voting? How did we arrive at the pattern for declaring one election inconclusive and not the other?
And finally, why were the authorities so determined to declare a result in Kano after the supplementary election – even when the violence witnessed on the day of the supplementary election turned out to be more serious than the violence that necessitated the cancelling of the original election last month?
But then, if INEC insists that all these shenanigans amount to ‘free’, ‘fair’ and ‘credible’ elections, then so be it. I only need to go get myself a new dictionary, to update myself on the new meanings of those words.
A footnote called Onnoghen
Let me begin by reminding those popping champagne over the turnout of the case against Justice Walter Onnoghen that the case is not over yet. That the embattled CJN has not been discharged and acquitted. That the prosecution (not persecution) has only closed its case.
Yes, so many things are going wrong at the same time. But one has to be careful in intervening in any, especially as we’ve been promised that the next four years will be ‘tougher’ than the last four – which many of us erroneously thought were the worst years we’ve ever lived through in recent memories.
How do I mean? This government rode to power, in 2015, on the back of a generous dose of fake news and propaganda. In power, it has continued along the same path. The only difference now is that it is coming down hard on those who dare to infringe on its monopoly of fake news and propaganda. Depending on what part of the bed the government wakes up from, such interlopers could now be charged with Hate Speech, Fake News or Public Incitement. Only those franchised by the sole proprietors of fake news are allowed free rein to push out falsehood and get away with it. And they are a legion.
With many media houses folding up and thousands of journalists suddenly finding themselves out of job, many otherwise respectable journalists have since joined the legion, and sold their souls to the devil in desperation to put food on the table.
Suddenly, hitherto circumspect, critical and even cynical journalists and writers now seem to reason from the wrong end of their torsos, as they go to town, shamelessly defending the indefensible. Anyone perceived to be an enemy of the paymaster is instantly torn to shreds in the social media. They seek to outdo themselves as they battle to impress the paymaster, and justify their next slurp of pottage.
So, less than 24 hours after the seeming collapse of the case Onnonghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the narrative suddenly changed. We’re suddenly being reminded that no one accused the Cross River State-born jurist of owning 55 houses. Nor that there was ever any mention of a foreign account. Nor that the cumulative amount found in all the said accounts of our ‘corrupt’ CJN cannot even buy the power bike of the yet-to-be employed son of our ‘uncorrupt’ president.
Of course, all of us, wailers and hailers, always knew this truth. It was only not politically expedient to own up to it. It was more profitable to leave the matter in the court of public opinion – when we know that 95% of that public does not understand the issues at stake.
Of course, like Onnoghen, like Atiku Abubakar and corruption. When it is clear that there is no shred of evidence to support allegations against anyone we intend to bring down, we take the case to the court of an ignorant public, make some insinuation to lead them in the direction we want, and then sit back to watch how the mob (we erroneously, or mischievously, call public opinion) bale for blood, criminalize Due Process, and lynch the innocent.
As the disciples of the Lamidi Adedibu school of politics would tell you, the dress they sewed for Onnoghen fitted him perfectly, why then should anybody bother with the little fact that it is actually not his own robe?
However, until the case is determined, because there is still plenty of room for both the prosecution and the defence to swing it, we must keep close watch, even if the tribunal chairman threatens to put all of us in jail.