It was one of the most hotly contested elections in Nigeria’s history. Signs of what to expect happened early on the Election Day. In some parts of Lagos, for instance, harassment and intimidation of voters held sway. At some polling units in Surulere, Ikate, Ajah and many other parts of Lagos, thugs disrupted the voting process and threatened voters who would not vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to leave the polling units. In some polling units in Ikate, thugs reportedly destroyed ballot boxes and threw the ballot papers into the gutter. Policemen could not stop them. Labour Party logo was also missing in most of the ballot papers in Lagos.
In Kogi State, the powers that be in the state reportedly dug trenches in a part of the state to prevent officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accessing some polling centres. Thugs also caused some havoc during the election in the state. Security agents arrested some of them. In Rivers State, there were reports that some characters threatened those who would not vote for the APC not to bother coming to vote. In some parts of Edo State, ballot boxes stuffed with ballot papers clearly showing that Labour Party was winning, were destroyed.
The worst is that many eligible voters were technically disenfranchised by INEC officials. In some parts of Lagos State, for instance, INEC officials did not show up for the election. This happened in some parts of Ejigbo and Oke-Afa in Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Area of the state. In some of the places, officials came late and voting started late such that a large number of registered voters could not vote. This happened in some polling units in Lagos and some other parts of the country.
Even after votes had been counted, it became a problem for INEC officials in Lagos and some parts of Delta State to upload the results of the presidential election already collated in various polling units to INEC central server. People waited up until past 9pm in some of their polling units to ensure the results were uploaded. Yet, that could not happen. This prompted the Labour Party National Chairman, Julius Abure, to issue a statement denouncing the situation. Abure said Labour Party was alarmed that some officials of INEC in connivance with the security agencies, including the Police were claiming that the BVAS deployed in most polling units had suddenly developed fault and therefore could not be used to upload presidential election results from the polling units. He described this as a tale from the moonlight. A civil society organisation, Yiaga Africa, expressed similar concern about the delay in uploading polling unit results on INEC’s election result portal.
The inkling of what could happen in this election occurred on the eve of the election when a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member of the House of Representatives from Rivers State, Chinyere Igwe, was caught with almost $500,000 and a list of beneficiaries of the cash. There was also a report that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) intercepted N32.4 million meant for vote-buying in Lagos. The commission did not name the culprit but said the suspect had been taken into custody for further questioning.
President Muhammadu Buhari had tried to avoid this type of electoral fraud. He has repeatedly promised to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and credible elections to Nigerians. To partly actualize that promise, he approved the redesign of the Naira. But his fellow party members were more virulent in the attacks on the policy. Who would have ever believed that someone like Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, or even the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, would ever oppose the President the way they did.
These are stalwarts of the ruling APC who used to kowtow to the President. Their major anger seemed to be that the billions of Naira they stockpiled for this election was rendered useless with the Naira redesign. They ordered their people to continue to use the old Naira notes which the President said were no longer legal tender. They went straight to the Supreme Court to halt the policy. The matter is still on.
Though vote-buying might have still taken place in this election, it could have been worse. Buhari deserves commendation for his efforts so far. But he needs to follow up with INEC to ensure that the wishes of the people are not thwarted at this point.
My happiness is that despite all the plots to rig and scuttle the election, Labour Party still made a strong showing in many parts of the country. From media reports, the party won in Aso Rock and even in APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu’s unit in Nasarawa State.
Soon, the result of the entire election will be known. But, no matter how it goes, Nigeria will not be the same. It is my hope and wish that Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party will be declared the winner of the presidential poll. He carried out the most robust campaigns in this election and is the most qualified to lead Nigeria at this point in time. If he ascends the mantle of leadership, Nigeria will experience uncommon transformation. Cost of governance will be drastically reduced. Nigerians will see genuine efforts at addressing their problems. Those citizens who ran to foreign countries may consider returning. Those wishing to relocate abroad will likely reconsider their plans.
If it’s Atiku Abubakar of the PDP that wins, then the impression would have been created that no matter what, the North will determine who rules the country at any point in time. It will not augur well for ethnic and regional harmony in the country. The crisis that will emanate from such a scenario still wears a hat.
A possible Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidency will be worse. If the APC’s candidate wins, there will be both ethnic and religious tension. Tinubu, in his wisdom, chose a fellow Muslim to be his running mate without minding the Christian/Muslim equation in the country. There is always a conscious plan to balance ethnic and religious configuration of the country to achieve peace and harmony in the country. It was for this reason that Buhari did not choose Tinubu as his deputy in 2015. He rather chose a Christian, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, for that position.
Besides, a Tinubu or Atiku’s emergence as President would have created the impression that Nigerians don’t bother about integrity and character for public officers. There is a groundswell of allegations against these two major candidates ranging from corruption and drug-related offences, to questionable origin, age and so on. In a sane country, both Atiku and Tinubu would have been disqualified from contesting the election. But here, anything goes.
I salute the ‘Obidient’ movement for their steadfastness. Despite the intimidation, harassment and attacks, they stood their ground and vowed to take back their country. It was never easy. In Rivers State, an APC lawmaker representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Ephraim Nwuzi, in an inciting video, allegedly threatened violence against some persons, including INEC officials. A Chief Magistrate Court in Port Harcourt has remanded him in Nigerian Correctional Centre custody until March 3, 2023 pending when a charge will be preferred against him. A traditional ruler (Baale) in Eti-Osa area of Lagos threatened to deal with non-indigenes living in his community if they failed to vote for the APC. An ‘Obidient’ supporter had his hand amputated recently after an attack by hoodlums and party thugs in Lagos. In a recent report, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) noted that no less than 60 attacks resulting in nine deaths and some injuries were recorded at the political rallies since campaign started in September 2022. It was a grand conspiracy by the old power horses to subjugate the people and continue in their plundering of the country.
Even Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who we thought was with the masses, changed gear dying minute to support Tinubu. Because his support was selfish and because he knew it would not go down well with his people, he could not come out openly to endorse his preferred candidate. Here is somebody who had been pontificating and attacking the APC for mismanaging the country. Suddenly, he became born again, turned 360 degree to support the same party he had denigrated and vowed never to have anything to do with. Shame!
Shame to Nigerian crooked politicians! Shame to corrupt INEC officials! Shame to compromised security personnel! Shame to all those who allow themselves to be used! If we fail to get it right this time, all of us will bear the consequences. The wrath of the youths awaits whoever has a hand in scuttling our young democracy.
Re: Electing Nigeria’s miraculous President
The old order, like the mathematical recurring decimal point, has dwelled with us for too long! Having not truly assumed an appreciable level of a nation, Nigeria’s voting direction for decades has largely been tailored along tribal lines and other primordial factors as opposed to a candidate’s ability to deliver. But the resultant pains usually occasioned by misgovernance and ineptitude have always affected the majority of Nigerians irrespective of ethnic groupings or state. The apparent confusion of the present times which has left many a Nigerian family crying and stranded is legendary. Some have even died as a result of hunger. And may I ask! Have the Nigerian voters ever decided who becomes their president? History records that Nigeria’s Head of State or Military President, as one of them chose to be called, usually assumed power through the barrel of gun. Or, in the so-called civilian dispensation, the president to be is usually drafted via an arrangement by the oligarchs to preside over Nigeria. The one and only Presidential Election which Nigerians overwhelmingly spoke with one voice in favour of an Abiola Presidency was the very one that was mindlessly truncated on 12th June 1993 by the known forces of darkness. If Nigerians have seen the light and now want to do away with the old ‘unworkable’ order which the APC and PDP represent, the votes of the teeming majority of Nigerians which personify Peter Obi must be allowed to count. Peter Obi remains the long-awaited Nigeria’s miraculous president.
-Edet Essien Esq. Cal South, +234 810 809 5633
Casmir, at this stage, let’s keep our fingers crossed and wait for the results as well as the post election events. May the best man — as decided by the electorate –win the election in a free and fair manner IJN. The candidates must display enough maturity in handling post election results! The electorate should be peace loving citizens. There is life after February 25th! No one should be pushed into violence sequel to the results not being in their favour. We need ‘peace, more peace and the most of peace’ in our beloved nation. May God help Nigeria in installing the best man for the job!
-Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +234 816 111 4572
Dear Casmir, it is hoped that this election will beat all including that of June 12, 1993. Old naira notes are no more legal tender. Let no one be deceived into selling vote this election.
-Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, February 27, 2023