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Election Tribunals: We May Be Getting Some Wrong
Author: Prince Charles Dickson | February 26, 2008



An old man once said that, “It was only a fool that puts two legs into the water when trying to ascertain the depth of the water”. Ironically in my country we not only test with our legs, we infact test with our two hands, we bend down and do not care about our behind. Sometimes when we blame leadership for all our woes I have asked that who makes this leadership after all, certainly people, not just people but us. You and I make up leadership, either in our small homes, wards, local councils, states, and the so-called Abuja. Unfortunately it is impossible for a man or a people to rise above their knowledge, we cannot get more than we ask for, and if we do, that would be simply luck or a miracle. Take soccer for example; I recall we asked for a world class coach, they gave us Berti Vogts, despite his abysmal performance in Scotland he was given the job in Naijaland and today we are all witnesses of how the journey has been. This is not about the Nations Cup, Berti Voigts, Yar’Adua or anyone but Nigeria, like everything Nigerian we learn in a slow motion and forget at the pace of lightening, nothing learnt, no intent and no purpose I am more than ever, concerned with the recent rate at which the tribunals are churning out the whole nullification thing. And before I get crucified, let me state very quickly that I have no grouse with the verdicts in theory but practically there are inherent problems we have chosen to turn a blind eye to, and they are the reason I ask ‘are we getting some wrong?’ We berated the tribunals initially for their slow pace, we asked if they had not been compromised, like in Asaba, Delta state where the tribunal has only just began work, or in Benue where David Mark has contrived to stop judgment. By and large they slowly but steadily started the job, indeed it was slow and at first insignificant, until they started going to the Gubernatorial, Senatorial, and only Almighty Allah knows… Now that these verdicts are being upheld by the appellant court, I wonder if Professor Iwu could be humble enough to tell us he goofed. With all these fresh elections scattered all over the place, can someone tell me that it would be organized free, no logistics, and no expenses whatsoever. I can say with a proof of certainty that there are several million naira worth of election materials hidden in places, so the deeds of April 14th and 21st 2007 will continue to remain an illusionary part of our history, this is so because no effort has been made to look at the issues, not all this ‘no DPP logo’ judgments. I am equally concerned about the status report from the South African end regarding ballot papers that were paid for and were not delivered. As we celebrate these ‘victories’ on behalf of democracy, at what cost is it to us as a nation, is it really worth the hassle, are we learning anything, when a roll call is made will Nigeria be part of those that have been there, saw, survived and actually conquered. All the tribunals have so far done is to look for shelter in one technicality or the other, infact rather than face the issues of mindboggling rigging, inflation of figures, announcement of results even before actual votes were counted, we are jubilating verdicts based on parties that could not win a ward even if they had their logo, name, wife’s name and pictures of their entire family on the ballot paper. My apologies, no offence meant, in the Senate President’s place Chiefs carried ballot boxes like thieves, in Yar’Adua’s homestead, I saw underage voting, a scenario of boys turned man. I know of a clear case where a sitting Governor’s temporary voters’ card surfaced in another state completely, and still the Governor cast his vote in front of cameras. I begin to think sometimes that ours is a case of a people that do not know what they want than that of a nation that is a patient with bad leadership. I read in the papers the other day as Lawyers in Diaspora asked the tribunal to thread softly in this nullification matter. Priests are now scared and are warning the Tribunals to thread softly, and I wonder what do we really want? But these are the same Nigerians that had earlier harped on the need for the right thing to be done, but now we do not have the guts to stomach the attendant results. Surely because we did not know what we were asking for, we just asked without a clear sense of cause and effect. How much would it have cost us if we had done one proper election in Kogi, as against the waste of resources that will occur in the name of fresh elections come March 29th? I question the fresh elections to be conducted by Iwu and some of his men, or the one to be monitored by same security personnel or the one that would be contested by the same crooks. The Kogi experience shocks me, but the fact is that most things in Nigeria are shocking and when they are not, we deliberately add the shock factor into it. Only months, no one wanted to hear Abubakar Audu but today he is a frontrunner in the forthcoming elections, same man that was arraigned for stealing ‘once in a while’ when his governor. I wonder if the Kogi people remember how EFCC accosted him in Jos in commando like fashion. When we want to do our own things, we do the overkill, like former Chief Justice Belgore had said we do everything either our way or the wrong way, often; we blame others for the way we deliberately choose. At a function he had to remind his audience that the Americans whom we tend to copy have not had an impeachment in decades, but in our case, you just don’t like a man’s face you commence impeachment process. Still someone there lacks the sense of duty to see that Iwu can, should and must not only be impeached but prosecuted if found culpable. Really there are times we do not know what we want, now after all the billions that was stolen and is still being stolen we are blaming immunity for it, immunity is about an office, not an individual, a man will still steal with or without it. And t is in this light I think that we have a problem that is way above us. I was privileged to be on Obasanjo’s campaign train, and it often beats me that all he promised is, what he denied us, he sold refineries to his cronies, after wasting billions in rehabilitating same, from turn around, turn forward and look back maintenance and in the end we know better whose pockets was being maintained. We have given the likes of IBB the honour of a comparative analysis, and we forget that two same side of a coin is always worth nothing. In the final analysis what will be the productivity rate of the tribunals, have they added value to our democratic crawling. Now every crook hails the judiciary, but with executive lawlessness and legislative laxity not much can be achieved or can change. The positives of the tribunal basically are the fear it sends down the spines of our politicians and how it is helping shape our federal status but given the same circumstances our political class have shown they will do same again and again. The tribunals have tried, but have we shown signs that we are willing to try, elections are one fundamental aspect of democracy, and flawed ones are equally one recipe for bad governance and an eventual collapse of the system. We are doing something wrong, the tribunals can be celebrated but if we miss the basic, we are bound to get something wrong. May the Almighty Allah help us learn from our mistakes of the past election. Afterthought In the next forty eight hours or so the Presidential election tribunal will deliver its verdict, David Mark has suffered the hammer blow, whichever way the pendulum swings, this again will pose as a litmus test for Nigeria and Nigerians.

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