On the heels of the widespread denouncement of the last Nigeria general elections, dozens of the results are being nullified by the relevant Election Tribunals. Several Governors and legislators have had their “elections” overturned by the Election Tribunals. The Presidency is increasingly hounded by the prospects of a nullification of the result that ushered it in. There seems to be unanimity amongst the cross-section of Nigerian citizens that the last exercise was fatally flawed. Our new President had conceded as much and what is happening at the various Election Tribunals
fortifies this reality.
While we do not hold the Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (INEC) wholly responsible for this national calamity, he bears a sizeable proportion of the blame. He failed to conduct a free, fair and credible national election, despite his solemn
promises to do so. Many of the so-called free and fair elections have been annulled. Some of them are:
· Chief Uba’s Anambra state Governorship that defied all logic because citizens of the state never voted for Andy Uba but the erstwhile President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo just simply thought that he knew better than the patriotic citizens of the state;
· To further underscore the poor conduct of the April polls, the Adamawa State Election Petition Tribunal nullified the election of the incumbent governor of the state, Murtala Nyako, and called for a fresh one within 90 days;
· The Nigeria Supreme Court in a unanimous decision nullified the governorship election in Rivers state of Mr. Celestine Omehia returning Mr. Rotimi Amaechi as legitimate State Chief Executive.
· The Election Tribunal in Edo state ordered a recount of votes in the governorship election following widespread discrepancies in results announced as the INEC accepted culpability.
· Senator Alhaji Jubril Usman Wowo’s election was nullified on the grounds that two candidates of other political parties were unlawfully excluded from participating in the April polls. Justice Tuktur who delivered the lead judgment blamed INEC for its inability
to abide strictly by the mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act
· On December 11, 2007, the election petition tribunal in Benue State nullified the election of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Kerseer Tsumba. Justice A. O. Odusola while delivering judgment on a petition filed by Mr. Osbert Kwangba of the
Action Congress said the petitioner proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that the April 14 2007 state assembly election did not hold in Maruku State constituency as claimed by the defendant.
· Senator Ayogu Eze, Chairman Senate Committee on Information and Media had his election equally nullified by the Enugu State Election Petitions Tribunal. Senator Ayogu Eze is representing Enugu North in the upper chamber of the National Assembly; and
· Mr. Patrick Asadu who currently represents Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency of Enugu state at the Federal House of Representatives also had his election nullified by the Election tribunal.
The list goes on and on as each day heralds another upturn and nullification. The National Association of Seadogs (NAS) opines that the nullification of even one of the 2007 elections in Nigeria is an indictment of not only the Obasanjo’s government but more on
Professor Iwu’s sense of decency, morality, and patriotism.
The 2007 election was adjudged by both international and national election watchers as the worst election in human political history. Following the April elections, the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) had this to say:
“In the final analysis NAS views the conduct and outcome of the April elections as not only a failure towards the citizenry but a dangerous precedent if it is left unchallenged. Since Nigerians have been robbed of the opportunity to make their choices known through the customary democratic avenue of the ballot box, they cannot be blamed
if they resort to using other less conventional democratic means…NAS therefore urges all candidates who have suffered from election irregularities to collect evidence and pursue redress through the tribunals and courts. We also stand in solidarity with all
disenfranchised Nigerians who wish to make their voices heard through various means of peaceful protest so that the government will be aware of the depth of feeling among the populace. Nigerians have suffered yet another failure of leadership; they have been robbed by a group of politicians who hold Nigerians in contempt. It is time to show our leaders that they will be held to account for their actions and that citizens of Nigeria will not sit back and allow our nation to be hijacked yet again…The National Association of Seadogs (NAS) rejects, in its totality, the results of the just concluded Nigeria’s
States and Federal Elections.”
We are glad that the nation’s political class heeded our clarion call to seek redress via the due process of the law at the tribunals. We are living witnesses to the dividends of a resort to civil action through the various tribunals sitting in different parts of the
country as the nation is currently reaping civilized fruits with a deluge of mandate nullifications across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
Even at these failures, Professor Iwu continues to bury his head in the sands by refusing to admit to his failings but rather takes umbrage in blame-shifting and buck passing. Professor Iwu’s failures have cost the nation money and valuable time needed for development.
We in NAS believe that the time has come for Nigeria to cultivate the practice of holding people responsible for their failures. The case of INEC, more than any other deserves a swift action by the Nigerian Government in order to restore its citizens’ trust and belief in the electoral process. It is time for Mr. President and/or the National Assembly to relieve Professor Iwu of his position to begin the process of rehabilitating this all important institution. This is not just an indictment of Professor Iwu’s stewardship but also an
acceptance of the fact that ultimate responsibility rests on the head of any organization that fails in its task.
As INEC prepares for the arduous task of preparing for and conducting bye-elections and repeat elections in the tens of dozens of seats opening up as a result of the activities of our robust judiciary, every effort must be made to ensure that the process is handled by
people of unshakable moral character. This exercise must never be allowed to be handled by the present leadership in INEC nor allowed to be influenced by the past administration. The new INEC must also ensure that the entire process is opened up for proper monitoring and that necessary infrastructure and materials are put in place and on
time to guarantee a successful exercise.
Unfortunately, the cankerworm has spread from INEC to State-INECS, as can be seen in the spate of protests and violent demonstrations trailing Local Government so-called elections in the last few days. It would seem that out politicians have not learnt from the
nullification of results done by the judiciary? If they have learnt some lessons, the alleged rigging of Local Government Elections in some states, which has elicited the condemnation by President Umaru Yar’Adua, should never have happened. It seems that to the politicians, loyalty to party supersedes loyalty to the constitution and to the country; this ugly trend must be immediately corrected.
Professor Iwu even has the effrontery to go around the world to clean up his image by presenting results that do not fully tell the story of the stench coming from the election he presided over. We in National Association of Seadogs (NAS) say that Professor Iwu has
destabilized our national polity enough and it is time for him to go.
PROF. OLATUNDE MAKANJU
National Association of Seadogs (NAS)