1. The 2007 Elections have come, but have not gone away. They were so much rigged that they are a national embarrasasment except to the conscience-less, riggers and their beneficiaries alike. For primary presidential-election beneficiary Umar Musa Yar'Adua to promise "electoral reform" afterwards;
for INEC's chairman Maurice Iwu to admit error "here and there" and to now state that the voters' register used just two weeks ago is no longer ready (Lord have mercy!); for "certificates of robbery" to be secretly given to (s)elected governors; and for President Obasanjo, in desperation, to bring in a paid racist Barroness Lynda Chalker (who did not bother to be present at the elections as an observer) to plead his case for understanding are signs of their own embarrasment.
Chalker regaled us with news of dead men voting in the UK - but no examples of British Bobbies and returnee-Iraqi soldiers carrying and thumb-printing ballot boxes in her constituency and other places. [The story making the rounds just today in Chalker's UK is that of an electoral fiasco in Scotland - precisely because of the electronic voting that Iwu almost foisted on our country. See: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/scotland/story/0,,2073685,00.html International experts slam ballot fiasco in Scotland, May 6, 2007]
2. I do not support the call for the whole-sale cancellation of the results. One "June 12" is enough for Nigeria. In any case, it simply will not happen when the majority party is the beneficiary, controlling the Presidency, the Military Forces and even the Legislature. If a minority or opposition party had won so widely, with or without rigging - AND if there was persistent escalating violence on the streets in days after the election, particularly with foreign incitement - then that would have been a strong possibility.
[This is what happened in Ukraine's "Orange Revolutin" of November/December 2004 between Yanukovich (who won the first election) and Yuschenko (who won a re-run five weekslater) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_presidential_election,_2004 ]
3. I support EVERY ONE of the aggrieved with constitutional locus standi - that is the parties and/or their candidates - who wishes to go to the Election Tribunal to contest the elections. That includes EVERY ONE of them, even those who came second, third, fourth or even tenth. All they need is documentary evidence; courageous persistence and financial muscle.
Without ALL three, they should forget the tribunals, stay at home and lick their chops: they knew that rigging was coming, did they not, and what were their preparations before, during and now after it? The Nigerian judiciary has become the last hope of Nigerians, bearing in mind the independence it has shown for quite some time now, particularly in connection with these elections.
Atiku Abubakar's persistence is to be commended on this score, enabling the establishment of the facts that the Vice-President is not the President's "boy-boy" or "girl-girl"; that the Executive cannot just use administrative panels anyhow to indite and harrass its opponents; and that INEC has no business disqualifying candidates.
4. The whole set of elections were so egregiously rigged that it is INCONCEIVABLE that NONE of them will be upturned by the tribunals - and who knows whether it will be yours or not? There should be no dose of sentimental emotionalism before the tribunals because even this ruling PDP is a study in electoral wanton-ness and greed who are prepared to go the Election Tribunals themselves to win or to "win" (in their usual corrupting/intimidating ways) even more seats for themselves.
[In Ekiti State for example, the PDP, with support of its godfathers both resident and foreign, have filed the first petitions. They are already boasting all over the place that they have "fixed" the Election Tribunals in Ekiti State Assembly to emerge PDP 17 and AC 9 in the State Assembly by May 29, instead of the current 13-13 that they violently obtained on April 28 from the original results of 16 AC, 6 PDP, 3 ANPP and 1 UNDP of April 14. For all the "wuru-wuru" in Ekiti State, please see: http://www.kayodefayemi.com/documents/Data_crunching_PDP_fraud.htm ]
5. For the Election Tribunals, the primary evidence (if available) and demands by the aggrieved should be at the very minimum three things: (i) legally-attested pictures of thumb-printings; videos and audios of police-, military- and other election violence; eye-witness accounts.
(ii) original certificates of winning originally issued by INEC at ward and constituency levels, and/or testimonies about them, because these were sometimes retrieved surreptitiously by INEC officials - and returned naively by candidates - only to be re-issued with new results inserted; (as happened to 1 AC candidate, 3 ANPP candidates and 1 UNDP candidate in Ekiti State); and
(iii) the discovery of the BALLOT BOXES complete with their contents - every last one of them. No thumb-prints and multiple thumb-prints will be so-discovered, and whoever wins or loses should be so determined. Gani Fawehinmi and Yusuf Olaniyonu have given good backgrounds behind the hurdles facing the aggrieved in Election Tribunals.
6. No new elections should be held with Maurice Iwu as INEC chairman: he should be fired with immediate effect. He is acutely incompetent; transparently biased; and most annoyingly, spectacularly clumsy even in showing his incompetence and bias. In a decent country, Iwu would be long gone.
He has done what he was hired to do - and more - and his primary hirers will thankfully be gone come May 29. But ours might indeed be a dubiously indecent country in which ALL the members of its Council of State - that is ALL living previous Heads of State (minus on this occasion IBB and Abdusalami Abubakar) - were conned JUST A FEW DAYS to the elections by a fast-talking, Ebola-virus-non-curing, snake-oil salesman named Iwu into believing that every thing was in place to run credible elections.
In this respect, presidential Muhammandu Buhari displayed complete political naivete that did not justify him being considered a viable president for now or for the future. A professor Iwu who grades his own performance as 80% as "B-" hovering on C (but a solid "A" in Nigerian scale, which starts from 70%), to the consternation of the other party agents in the room, he disappears from the INEC collation room (with the collation of only 11 states completed) only to emerge before cameras to hurriedly announce pre-determined presidential results to the world - but not until after going into a tirade.
[Hear him on http://www.nigerianmuse.com/video/u=Presidential_results_announcement_audio_video_Nigeria_April_23_2007.htm ]
Without explanation to date the results that he announced on TV are different from what are shown on INEC's website [
See the differences on these tables: http://www.inecnigeria.org/election/show_result.php?catagory=Presidential and http://www.nigerianmuse.com/important_documents/?u=Presidential_results_2007.htm ]
He is asked to give a certificate of robbery to the presidential "winner", and yet he launches into another shameless tirade. [Hear his second tirade in. http://www.nigerianmuse.com/video/?u=Presidential_certificate_presentation_audio_Nigeria_May_2_2007.htm ]
Finally, when state governments wish to hold their own local government elections - for good or for bad reasons - he says that INEC is "working on the voters' register", to fix certain unstated problems. In short, he is already criminally tampering with the Voters Register NOW not only in readiness for muddling the Election Tribunals, but to ensure that the states obey ruling party PDP's directives NOT to stage local government elections UNTIL after the instrumentalities of rigging power are in the hands of the newly-selected governors and state assemblies.
7. Without being able to use one-man-one-vote elections to freely, fairly and credibly (i) retain good elected leaders; (ii) toss out bad ones and (iii) elect new promising leaders; then democracy is a sham, and we might as well be ruled by the Military.
Constitutional reforms are therefore PARAMOUNT in Nigeria now than never before, with electoral reform being front and center in the first six months of any new administration. If a new administration does not embark on constitutional reform - or to be less charitable, if the "electoral robbers" do not take immediate steps to discuss the improvement of the nation's "security system" which was shamelessly breached in April 2007 - then opposition and relentless watch-dog groups must pour out onto the street to demand it, otherwise four years from now, we will be "rushing" all over the place again.
This assurance MUST be part of the current ongoing negotiations for peace and reconciliation in the country, not the annoying mantra of "Let us move on for the sake of peace; please accept this appointment or that appointment......" being parlayed among both metaphorical "monkeys" and "baboons." [See: http://www.tribune.com.ng/05052007/news/news15.html "We don't want baboons in our midst" say PDP National Coordinators to Umar Musa Yar'Adua]
8. The constitutional reforms needed are so deep - and the current requirements for changing parts of our 1999 Constitution are so politically cumbersome - that we are back to an original demand that will never go away: a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) [whose outcome BINDS the National Assembly into making the necessary changes] is absolutely necessary under the circumstances, not the type of NPRC of yore whose sole hidden agenda as in fact the Third Term Agenda (TTA). [See http://www.nigerianmuse.com/projects/SNCProject/ ]
9. For Nigerians in the Diaspora, one bright spot in these disastrous elections was the victory of the natural-born Nigerian Isa Odidi/Akeem Bello presidential/Veep candidate-pair of New Democrats party to obtain a favorable court ruling concerning their right to run as dual citizens of Nigeria and Canada/USA respectively. http://www.nigerianmuse.com/important_documents/?u=Odidi_Bello_Dual_Citizenship_Judgement.htm .
Next battles are (i) the rights to register and vote in-situ abroad, a class-action suit of which is currently being filed, http://www.nigerianmuse.com/nigeriawatch/Diaspora_Nigeria/?u=Diaspora_Nigerians_to_File_Class_Action_Suit_to_Vote_in_Nigerian_Elections.htm as well as (ii) more meaningful participation in the constitutional political process in and economic development of Nigeria, a new impetus for which will be kick-started by the Nigerian Democratic Movement (NDM), in an international forum tentatively fixed for Washington DC, USA on Saturday, September 29, 2007.
These above are some thoughts, not a sermon, as I rest my case for now as we watch - and in some cases participate - in the unfolding developments concerning these seriously flawed April 2007 elections.
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