By Sani Danaudi Mohammed
The attempt to sow doubt over the outcome of the Presidential, National Assembly, Gubernatorial and State Assemblies elections in Nigeria are not just historical curiosity. Post-election litigation is nothing new in Nigeria. Except for the 2015 election when former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR conceded to President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. Every Presidential election held since 1999 has ended in legal fireworks, but none quite as dramatically as this year considering the religious, regional and ethnic bigotries that marred the Process.
Political attention is shifting to the courts as aggrieved candidates and political parties that contested in Nigeria’s 2023 general elections are heading to the courts to Challenge the outcome that is against their favour. Before February 25th February and March 18th,2023, Polling Units were the soft target for electoral Competition. It is obvious now the Elections Petition Tribunal and the Courts have displaced the polling Units as the aggrieved Candidates and Political Parties are looking up to them as an arena for contesting the results officially declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission The concerns are only where the aggrieved lost that are rigged but turn out to be credible where they same aggrieved won.
Consequently, the judiciary now is the constitutionally positioned body which stands as the final arbiter in election disputes, oftentimes, ends up being the determiner of the winners and losers of elections. Though none of Nigeria’s Presidential election results has ever been annulled or invalidated by the court, there’s a litany of situations when the third arm of government acted as a last resort in cases of electoral result disputes. Though accusations have been labelled against the judiciary, these are not enough to subject the entire system to trial. This is because there are many political victories that were upturned in favour of Some aggrieved Politicians in Nigeria.
Since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has struggled to conduct credible polls. Elections in Nigeria are consumed by Post-election legal battles. This is because electoral malpractice has become part of Nigeria’s electoral culture. These malpractices take place before, during and after elections. Some of the most common include manipulation of voters’ registration, intimidation of voters, vote rigging, violent clashes between supporters, disruption of voting by thugs, and the snatching of ballot boxes and electoral materials. It is, therefore, on this note that political parties and their candidates, disfavoured by the election results, unhesitatingly head to the court to seek redress.
The electoral umpire has conducted Seven general elections in 24 years and has also had many of those elections upturned by courts as a result of electoral malpractices. Within those years, a number of governors lost their seats after election petition tribunals and of course, the Supreme Court nullified their elections. Consequently, the court has restored the mandate of seven governors two of them in the current political dispensation along with many legislators.
The ICIR compiled the list of governors who were the beneficiaries of this kind of court action. These are Rauf Aregbesola, Peter Obi, Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole, Segun Mimiko, Bello Matawalle and Hope Uzodinma who was until the Supreme Court ruling a runner-up in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State.
The world’s attention is understandably taken up by headline-grabbing events such as Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, the aftermath of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, Trump’s arraignment and skirmishes in the “great power competition. However, the international community cannot afford to overlook elections and importantly democracy across Africa this year. Case in point, Nigeria: Africa’s most populous country and one of the world’s largest democracies.
On February 25, Nigeria held its presidential election. Millions of Nigerians went to the polls for the opportunity to elect their new leader. At a time when the world is experiencing a democratic decline, Nigerians stood in line sometimes for hours for the chance to have their voices heard. Though, With Over 93M registered voters and with 87.2m PVCs collected, the sad reality is that less than 30 per cent which represents only about 25 million of the electorate showed up to vote. What this simply means is that only two out of every 10 registered voters were at the polling booths to exercise their civic duties.
The ongoing installation of ethnic, regional and religious hatred by some loose Political souls in Nigeria must be resisted by all the right-thinking Nigerians. There is no word nor an abjective left in the contemporary dictionary that has not been used to describe the President-elect Senator Bola Ahmad Tinubu and the Vice President-elect Senator Kashim Shettima during the electioneering Period. The bitter truth is that elections have been won and it is time for the healing process which requires all hands to be on deck. They are all winners because they make our democracy more interesting and kingly contested.
Tinubu/Shettima were Governors who ruled under very difficult circumstances and have differently changed the face of governance in their States. Both set the foundations and standards for good governance when they Served as Governors of Lagos and Borno States. Fack checks have proven that Tinubu himself masterminds the foundations of the modernization of Lagos State which is standing as the island of the heartbeat of the nation’s economy. On the hand, Kashim Shettima was elected Governor of Borno State at the Peak of the Boko Haram Crisis but has proved to be a leader who can lead during a Challenging time. One thing worthy of Note is that, during the dark days of Borno State,he has never run away from responsibilities and has refused to reduce himself to an Abuja-based Governor.
Tinubu/Shetima ticket scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rivals and candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, who polled 6,984, 520 and 6,101,533 votes respectively. These results have Shamed the emperors who have been preaching the narrative of exclusion against their tickets. To be elected in the first round, a candidate must receive a plurality of the national vote and over 25% of the vote in at least 24 of the 36 states of the Federation. It means that Tinubu/Shettima currently holds the mandate of the majority of the lawful votes cast and has met the requirements by law to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29th,2023.
Another important factor that gave them an edge over their counterparts is their legislative experience as both were Senators of the Federal Republic on different occasions. Although, their victory was Predicted long before the election by those who prioritise Credibility, competency and capacity ahead of regional, Religious and Ethnic Politics. It is obvious that Nigerians are now silently Celebrating the triumph of the Tinubu/Shetima ticket as one that has ended the ugly syndrome of Religious politics in Nigeria. It has now flipped a new page in our nation’s history that despite the secularism of the State of Nigeria, the best will always have an edge. Be as it may be, it is not the Muslims that won but Nigerians and Nigeria won against their enemies.No matter the factors that Play out, Tinubu/Shettima now officially awaiting President and Vice of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where the symbol of hope, Peace, Unity and Prosperity shall prosper under the guidance of the Principles of Justice, equity and fairness.
INTERIM GOVT PLOT AND THE DELUSIONAL GROUPS
The rumours and accusations of a plot by yet to be identified Delusional elements to foresee an instalment of an interim Government is worrisome and condemnable. This development is coming at a time Nigeria is working round the clock to dislodge elements of secession, Banditry and Boko Haram that have tight the country to its knees in the last few years. Be as it may be, Elections have been conducted and despite the hitches recorded, the just Concluded 2023 elections is one of the Free, Fair and Credible Processes since 1999.
The irony is that those behind this daydream Seem not to be good students of history and have not paid due attention to the supreme document that bound us together as an indivisible nation. They contested elections because there is a country called Nigeria. Having lost out at the polls they should not shy away from defending the Constitutional Provisions that offered them an opportunity to contest. The platform paves the way for Tinubu/Shettima’s May 29th Presidency through a Constitutional mandate on February 25th and anyone doubting this fall into the Delusional groups. Just like the advanced democracies of the world where the laws protect their democratic institutions, Our laws should not allow these goats behind this illusionary movie to go free.
The increasing Political awareness in Nigeria from North down to South will never allow the masterminds of this evil plot and their foot soldiers to succeed as the country is a million times bigger than individual ambition. Tinubu/ Shettima as it stands is holding the mandate of nearly 9m Nigerians and only the courts have jurisdiction and Power to say otherwise. It will interest us to note that, those behind these calls are one way or the other the Major beneficiaries of this democracy that the likes of the President-elect was jailed for. One thing and most important is that they are products and symbols of a Constitutional Government, they will serve the mandate of the Nigerian People irrespective of their tribes, religion and ethnic backgrounds.
This is what our National symbols stand for and we must raise to the occasion of accepting the destinies that comes our way whether good or bad. They should learn from the Statesmanship of former President Jonathan and the resilience of President Muhammadu Buhari. As for those making irrational and divisive statements that may trigger their supporters must know that none of them is above the Constitution and Must learn from the Powerful Donald Trump to Save themselves from wearing the same shots. End to democracy? A complete fallacy and daydream of the Delusional Groups. Power is about negotiations, bargaining and dialogue to this end, Tinubu himself has negotiated his ambition for over 30 years and has never threatened the Unity and Peaceful Coexistence of Nigeria to be President but built a solid Political empire that gave him this victory. May Nigeria succeed.
Danaudi, National President of Arewa Youths Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative writes from Bauchi State. He can be reached via [email protected].