Before The Next Round By Edwin Madunagu

I am inviting our country’s popular-democratic forces, especially the Nigerian Left, to join me in looking back once again. We have to look as the Nigerian state and the various fractions, factions, groups and blocs of the ruling class now begin to take the country through another political turbulence that will end in a reconstitution of their political representation. It is this reconstitution of its “political class” that the ruling class calls election.

This opening clarification leads to an opening proposition, namely: That if the Nigerian Left consciously, responsibly and seriously adopts electoralism, it is only its participation in elections as a tangible, coherent and relatively independent political force that will begin to introduce real and unexpected contradictions in elections. A real contradiction in this context is a contradiction with both reformist and revolutionary potentials. And I say “relatively independent”, rather than “independent” in describing the popular-democratic forces’ electoral participation because I do not, ab initio, rule out the possibility of alliance which, if it is real, imposes limitations on the freedom of all sides in an alliance.

Historians of independent Nigeria’s electoral politics usually begin the narrative from the federal election of December 1959. This was the election which the history books say determined the power structure which British colonialism left behind as it withdrew from Nigeria on October 1, 1960. Between that election and now, 58 years later, Nigeria has had nine other federal or national elections: 1964, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Leftists had participated in all the 10 elections. And, by Leftists I mean, broadly speaking, socialists as well as progressives and radical democrats who, even if they are not socialists, are not anti-socialist. The central question here is how Nigerian Leftists have so far participated in elections.

This central question may be put in context by locating each of the 10 federal or national elections in the political period it belongs. Nigeria’s First Republic is generally understood to be the period between October 1, 1960 and January 15, 1966, the date of the first military coup d’etat. This designation has come to stay although Nigeria did not become a republic until October 1, 1963, three years after independence. Only the 1964 election falls into the First Republic. Similarly, only the 1983 election falls under the Second Republic (October 1, 1979 to December 30, 1983). The Third Republic, defined only by when it ended (November 17, 1993) and not when it started (when, please?), had no election within it.

The Fourth Republic, the current one, started on May 29, 1999. Four general elections have so far taken place in this period: 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. The remaining four elections, that is, those of 1959, 1979, 1993 and 1999 do not belong to any of the four republics and may be called transition elections. The first of the four was conducted by the British colonialists, while the other three were conducted by military regimes: General Olusegun Obasanjo (1979); General Ibrahim Babangida (1993) and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (1999).

For the Nigerian Left, the 1979 general election marked a sharp and tragic turn in the trajectory of the country’s electoral politics. In the first place, the huge material/financial conditions placed on the registration of political parties almost automatically ruled out genuinely Leftist parties. In the second place, the elimination of independent candidacy placed a stiff choice before intending Leftist candidates and unregistered and unregistrable Leftist parties.

Nigerian Leftists participated in the 1959 transition-from-colonialism election in one or more of four forms: as members of large and well-established ruling class parties; as members of small self-determination or radical-reformist parties; as members of small Leftist parties; or as independent candidates or supporters of independent candidates. The large ruling-class parties were the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) led by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (later, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens) (NCNC), led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Action Group (AG), led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In the last decade of de-colonisation, that is, (1950-1960), these three parties, especially the AG and the NCNC, had received large numbers of young Leftists, including Marxists and labour activists, who had been dislodged from their independent formations by colonial repression. The Leftist entrants into the AG, with support and encouragement from Awolowo himself, transformed the party ideologically.

The small radical parties included the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) led by Mallam Aminu Kano, and the self-determination parties included the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) led by Joseph Tarka. While NEPU was allied to the NCNC, UMBC was allied to the AG. Each alliance fielded a single slate of candidates. The small Leftist parties only participated in the election symbolically and for ideological and educational reasons.

In the 1964 federal election, the only federal election that took place in the First Republic, the 1959 forms of Left participation again appeared. By now the Leftist parties and groups had increased and enlarged. Beyond this, however, was a new development: a number of Leftist parties, including the Nigerian Labour Party (NLP), joined the AG and the NCNC in an alliance called the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA). This was a mega-alliance whose component members included NCNC, AG, NEPU, UMBC and NLP. The alliance survived the December 1964 election and the supplementary election of March 1965. It then went on to fight the very bloody October 1965 Western Regional Election. The mass uprising generated by the last election led directly to the January 15, 1966 military coup d’etat.

The 1979 general election was a transition election: transition from the 13-year military dictatorship (1966-1979) to the Second Republic (1979-1983). By then several things had changed: the country had moved from the parliamentary to the presidential system; parties now had to be officially permitted and registered to participate in the contest; only very rich parties or parties of very rich people could satisfy the conditions for registration; participation as independent candidates had been abolished; and elections had become much more corrupt than they were in the First Republic.

For the Nigerian Left, the 1979 general election marked a sharp and tragic turn in the trajectory of the country’s electoral politics. In the first place, the huge material/financial conditions placed on the registration of political parties almost automatically ruled out genuinely Leftist parties. In the second place, the elimination of independent candidacy placed a stiff choice before intending Leftist candidates and unregistered and unregistrable Leftist parties.

This strategic change, if adopted, frees you to seek alliances. For accessible historical illustration: First, check China in the years between the Japanese invasion and the end of Second World War. The alliance in mind here was the one between the Chinese Leftists and the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang).

This choice can be put like this: “Abandon your electoral ambition or come and seek a chance in one of the registered and registrable parties”. In the third place, since the big registered parties knew that the unregistered leftist parties and candidates could not participate in elections without coming to them, they imposed tough conditions on collaboration. The main condition invariably was: “Withdraw publicly from your platform and publicly join us. But you must join us as individuals, not as groups”.

This situation may be summarised this way: From the 1979 general election onwards the genuinely Leftist parties could participate in electoral contests in Nigeria only by liquidating themselves as they were and as they presented themselves. It was then that history presented the silent revolutionary alternative: “But if you must still participate in Nigerian elections, then you must adopt, or rather, return to, dialectics. That means: differentiate between form and content; or rather, while retaining the revolutionary content, adopt two forms – one for elections and the other for the permanent democratic struggle of the masses.”

This strategic change, if adopted, frees you to seek alliances. For accessible historical illustration: First, check China in the years between the Japanese invasion and the end of Second World War. The alliance in mind here was the one between the Chinese Leftists and the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang).

After this, turn to the post-Second World War history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island and check the alliance between the various wings of Irish nationalism.

For contemporary illustration, turn to South Africa and check the Tripartite Alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

INEC To Monitor 2019 Elections Through Satellite

INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has disclosed that the agency would deploy satellite to remote areas where 3G and 4G networks are not available, to monitor the 2019 general elections.

He said this during his visit to the the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT), Abimbola Alale, in Abuja.

INEC said it

“In continuation of consultations with national agencies in the telecommunications sector, INEC considers this interactive meeting critical to the success of our commitment to deepening of the application of technology to elections. While we appreciate the tremendous reach of the telecommunications operators, we are equally aware that some of our polling Units are located in places where 3G and 4G networks are not available for real time electronic transmission of results”

“It is for this reason that we wish to leverage on the capacity of NIGCOMSAT to provide a wide range of telecommunication services. In particular, your broadband service offers a tremendous flexible bandwidth capacity that can be deployed almost anywhere and in a short period of time, including hard-to-reach and temporary locations. These are invaluable to the work of INEC. Working with you and in partnership with the NCC as well as the telecommunications operators, we believe the challenges to the seamless transmission of results are not insurmountable We are similarly aware that NIGCOMSAT has the capacity for Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting, multimedia, video streaming, Hotspot event services and indoor and outdoor electronic message displays. These services are invaluable to our work on voter education, sensitisation and mobilisation for elections”.

 

2019 Elections: Atiku Dumped By Ex Governors

News have emerged following a closed door meeting which took place at about 7pm on Sunday at the Delta state governor’s lodge in Asaba, that ex- governors of the People’s Democratic Party have decided to dump former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for a ‘true, steadfast and loyal man of the party’.

Ex-Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) namely, Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Henry Dickson (Bayelsa), Benedict Ayade (Cross River), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo (Gombe), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), and Darius Ishaku (Taraba) together with the party’s NWC led by the national chairman, Uche Secondus, made this decision.

“The PDP Governors and the NWC after several hours of deliberation collectively agreed to settle for former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido for his consistency since the party was founded. They viewed former Vice President Abubakar Atiku’s moves as desperate and over ambitious. According to them, a true, faithful and loyal party man who has the interest of the party at heart will not turn into a political prostitute as the over-ambitious former Vice President Atiku has done.” a source according to Sahara Reporters said.

In a six-page communique signed by PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus and the Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum Nigeria, Ayo Fayose read by Mr. Secondus, at the end of the closed-door meeting the Governors and the party’s NWC, strongly condemned what they called the “unabated killings” across the country and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to come out clean on the herdsmen killings and address the nation on how to end the carnage.

“The President must take responsibility on the protection of lives and property of Nigerians which is the most important of his responsibilities. We believe that the Federal Government’s decision to set up a Committee to address the issues of herdsmen killings is a pretentious approach to a matter that requires firm action and leadership by the President in line with his oath of office to protect all Nigerians irrespective of creed, tribe and political affiliation.

“The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been the author of restructuring and this was further expressed in the Report of the 2014 National Conference. The All Progressive Congress (APC) as a later day convert of restructuring is merely paying lip service to a matter of national importance. However, we have mandated our members in the National Assembly to immediately commence the process of initiating a Bill to address issues bothering on restructuring.

“We urge Mr. President to henceforth direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to adhere to the Rule of Law by obeying court judgements and orders such as the one involving the Ekiti State Government against EFCC and restrain itself from further political intimidation and harassment of known or perceived political opponents. We commend the judiciary for their commitment to the enthronement of constitutional democracy in the face of intimidation and harassment.

“We condemn in strong terms the massive corruption going on in the management of fuel subsidy regime which the Federal Government had declared non-existent while billions of Naira are being deducted monthly at Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings. The PDP states and local governments are vehemently opposed to the unilateral withdrawal of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account by the Federal Government under any guise.

“We commend members of our party for their unalloyed support. We reiterate that our repositioned party is prepared for the 2019 elections and will ensure that all Nigerians aspiring to elective offices are free to contest on the platform of the PDP. We want to assure that no established organ of the party is allowed to align with any presidential aspirant. We thank the people and government of Delta State for playing host to this all-important meeting.” the communiqué stated.

Journalists who kept night vigil waiting for the outcome of the meeting between the PDP Governors and the NWC, however, observed that the eleven governors have had a three hours close door meeting at governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s lodge in the government house, Asaba where series of decisions had been  taken by the Governors’ Forum before the commencement of the enlarged governors and party NWC closed-door meeting.

Earlier, before the closed-door meeting the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus who was addressing leaders, elders and members of the PDP at the Unity hall government house, Asaba, discredited former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s newly formed Coalition for Nigerian Movement (CNM), saying it is dead on arrival, adding that the All Progressive Congress (APC) failure to provide good governance will be a yardstick for Nigerians to vote for candidates of the PDP in the 2019 general elections.

2109: Campaign Posters Of Babagana Kingibe Flood Lagos And Abuja

Cities in Lagos and Abuja have been flooded with campaign posters of the ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, for 2019 presidency.

Kingibe is not new to the presidential run as he was also the running mate to late Bashorun MKO Abiola, under the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

In Abuja, the posters were seen at some major spots, including the Federal Secretariat with the inscription, “Sai Baba for President 2019.”

Also in Lagos, they were cited in the Ikeja area around the State Secretariat in Alausa, Agidingbi and Acme roads as well as other major points of attraction.

Recall that the “Sai Baba” slogan was used by Buhari in 2015.

The phrase was also used in 1993 during the SDP presidential primary.

The former SGF, a Kanuri from Borno State, was former National Chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, but now a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

 

House Of Reps Reviews INEC 2019 Elections Timetable

The House Of Representatives has amended the Electoral Act to change the order of election shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the 2019 general elections.

From the new amendment, the National Assembly election is to hold first, followed by gubernatorial and state assembly with the presidential election billed to be conducted last.

The amendment was effected yesterday at the committee of the whole, presided over by Deputy Speaker, Hon. Suleiman Yussuff Lasun, while considering the report of the House Committee on Electoral Matters on the proposed amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). In the timetable released by INEC, the presidential and National Assembly elections are to hold first, while the governorship and state assembly follow.

The House amended section 25 of the principal act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1) which reads: “Elections into the office of the president and vice president, the governor and deputy governor of a state, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and House of Assembly of each state of the federation shall be held in the following order (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) presidential elections.”

Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties” (a) the primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship (iv) president. “The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than one hundred and twenty days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”

The House also amended section 36 to allow running mate of any candidate  that dies before the conclusion of elections inherit his votes and continue with the process.

According to the new section 36 (3), “If during the commencement of the poll, but before the conclusion of the elections for the office of the president or governor of a state, one of the nominated candidates of a political party dies, the commission shall allow the running mate, that is the party’s vice presidential candidate or deputy gubernatorial candidate to continue and conclude the poll and should he score the majority of the votes cast in accordance with the constitution, be declared the winner of the said election.”

Relatedly, the House amended section 35 and provided that if before election a candidate dies, he will be replaced by the next contestant with the highest vote. “Where a nominated candidate dies in the circumstances stated under subsection (1) of this section, the next person, from the same political party where the deceased emerged, with the second highest votes in the primary election shall be submitted to the commission to replace the deceased, and the commission shall accept such replacement as if the deceased is alive,” the amendment stated.

Also amended was section 143 with a new section 3 providing that “where the nomination of an elected candidate is nullified by the court and notice of appeal against the decision is given within the stipulated period for appeal, the elected candidate shall not, withstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office pending the determination of appeal.

“If the court determines that the candidate was not validly nominated, the elected candidate shall, notwithstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office within the period an appeal may be filed; and shall not be sanctioned for the benefits he derived while in office pursuant to this section.”

The House also effected an increment in the limitation of election expenses to be incurred by candidates for presidential candidates from N1 billion to N5 billion; governorship from N200 million to N1 billion; while Senatorial and Representatives candidates are not to exceed N100 million and N70 million respectively. For State Assembly and chairmanship elections, candidates’ expenses have been raised from N10 million to N30 million while councillorship candidates’ ceiling has been raised from N1 million to N5 million. Similarly, individual contribution has been jacked up from N1 million to N10 million.

 

Donald Duke Reveals Plan To Run For President In 2019

Former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, has indicated his interest to run for president.

Mr Duke made his interest known at the third Mike Omotosho annual lecture titled: “Millennials as Protagonists in Nation Building” on Sunday night in Abuja.

Mr. Duke was governor of Rivers State between 1999 and 2007. He promised to start up the process at, ”the right time and circumstance.”

“I am entitled to run for the presidency of this country. Only on right circumstances I will aspire for it. I don’t shy away from responsibility, I will aspire for presidency of this country. I have what it takes to be president of this country.”

Mr. Duke challenged the youth to be active in the electoral process by getting their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, and sensitise others ahead of the general election, rather than, ”loafing around, looking for who to heap their problems on.”

He noted that country once had young leadership in its first republic.

“It is high time Nigerians begun to project people with the technical know-how to take the country to the Promised Land.

“I hear young people say to me that why would they spend hours queuing and casting their votes when at the end their votes won’t count. And I tell that if their parents conceived them they never gave up on them considering the high mortality rate, so why would they not take a chance in building this nation?

“We had young leadership at one stage or the other. Even in our first republic, besides the likes of Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, M. T. Mbu was in his twenties when he became a minister.

“Gowon was 30 when he became the head of state. It comes back to the disaster therein because most of them didn’t have experience in governance, which led us into war. We need the combination of both. What I think we should be doing is to ensure a government that is youth-friendly to provide opportunities because we need to groom the next set of leadership.”

Mr. Duke lamented the recent death of Nigerian migrants on Mediterranean sea, slavery in Libya, job loss and the rate of unemployment in Nigeria.

“I don’t know what a definition of failed state is and I don’t want to categorise Nigeria as a failed state yet, however, a state that was unable to provide for its people has faded up.

“So, if we are not there yet, we are walking with our eyes open towards it. And we need to pull the hand break now before it gets late.”

The ex-governor, speaking on the activities of the current administration, said the challenge is that there is disconnection between President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet members. He attributed the failure of governance on the lack of consequences for erring leaders which has given room for incompetence.

“The challenge we have today is the disconnect. That is the challenge of the governance today. Because if you speak with the folks in government, and I am being candid here, I think we should stop to deceive ourselves here and stop all these political correctness. There is disconnect between the president and even the ministers.”

 

2019 Elections: The Clear And Present Dangers Ahead By Chima Amadi

Expectedly, and in keeping with its proactive approach to elections management, the INEC just released the schedule of activities for the 2019 elections. Going by INEC’s timetable, it is precisely thirteen months before the general elections, while official campaigns are supposed to commence on the 18th day of November. However, even when they make the rules, politicians being the rule-abusing clan that they are, have already started not too covert electioneering activities, way before the officially designated date. Well, it would be disingenuous to tar the political class with the brush of abuse of process if it is not stated among other things that the president did not set the force of personal example to adhere to rules.

Under the guise of wasteful commissioning of projects first in Ebonyi, and subsequently, in Anambra and Kano states, the president has already commenced campaigning for his not too secret ambition to seek a second term of office. The actions of the president have already opened the vista of politicking, horse-trading and conspiracies that is the routine of politicians.

However, in a departure from the last election circle, i.e. 2015, when during the same corresponding time, the polity was already abuzz with seismic realignments ala knew PDP and APC mergers, pontifications, posturing, and cross-fire barbs by political actors, there seems to be some graveyard peace. Perhaps, the political class, quite uncharacteristically, is showing deference to the veil of death and flow of innocent blood that has covered the land, from the plains of the middle belt plateau to the desert hinterlands of the North East. Any keen observer that mistakes this unofficial armistice as foreshadowing a peaceful 2019 elections is naïve at best.

As someone that has had the rare privilege of formally studying elections in Nigeria since 1999 as a Civil Society observer, this writer can without equivocation state that there are clear and present dangers lurking around the corner for the 2019 elections. These threats, accentuated through the examination of the history, profiles, actions and inactions of the strategic stakeholders during elections are the focus of this week’s discourse. It is hoped that this early exposé will help prevent avoidable pitfalls that can put the polls in jeopardy.

There are usually four key stakeholders in any elections in most climes, namely: The Election Management Body, the electorate or voters, Politicians/candidates, and security personnel. Given the peculiarities of the Nigerian body polity, this writer, now includes the judiciary to these key stakeholders and will shortly unpack the reason for their inclusion in this classification.  Since Nigeria started experimenting with democratic governance, and this time series goes back to pre-independence elections, the legitimacy and integrity of Election Management Bodies have always been called into question. However, no State institution, bar the Nigerian Police, typifies the rot that Nigeria has become like the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC). The INEC was cobbled together by the departing military in 1998 to quickly conduct elections that would usher in the Fourth Republic. The Junta had their preference of outcomes for the elections which the INEC was expected to effectuate. The dissatisfaction with the successive leadership of INEC and elections conducted by them led to the overwhelming clamour for a reform of the electoral process. It was in attempting to provide some form of credibility to the INEC that former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Professor Attahiru Jega, a man renowned for his integrity, as the INEC Chairman on June 8th,2010.

Jega realized very early in his tenure that the organization he was asked to lead was reeking with the foul and offensive smell of the Nigerian system. For instance, it is an open secret among stakeholder-circles that any Nigerian politician of means has moles in the INEC that provides him/her with information aimed at compromising the organisation and its operations. Rather than adopt a reformist approach in tackling the integrity deficits and severe dysfunction of the electoral body and system, Jega chose to whitewash or mask the defects by applying deodorant to the stench in the INEC. In the conduct of elections, Jega adopted the same principle that led to his appointment, he merely brought his professor colleagues from the various universities in Nigeria, many of them serving Vice Chancellors. Academics, especially of the professorial class are mostly considered to be politically aloof and bring some integrity along with them. He also dragged Youth Corpers into the process by using them as ad-hoc staff. All these moves merely peppered over the enormous cracks in the system, but given Jega’s integrity credit, he cashed-in efficiently and got Nigerians to trust the system. By introducing the limited use of technology in the last elections, which inevitably led to the defeat of the ruling party, Jega created a myth of someone that left behind an outstanding organisation and huge shoes to be filled by his successor.

Nothing could be further away from the truth. Without disrespecting the legacies of the eminent professor, evidence suggests that the 2015 election was the worst in the history of the conduct of elections in the Fourth Republic. Beyond the usual culprits of underage voting, logistical handicaps, etc., the number of cancelled and rerun elections ordered by the tribunals in the last election is not only unprecedented but outweighs all other cancelled elections in past combined. This article, written in Awka where a court-ordered rerun election took place, three years after the 2015 elections is one of the legacies of the Jega INEC. It is within this context that the current INEC leadership, headed by another eminent professor of no mean repute, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, was appointed to superintend the 2019 elections.  Professor Yakubu, in a sharp departure from his predecessor, adopted a reformist approach to the electoral process. But this has put him at daggers drawn with the establishment and entrenched interests in the polity. It is important to recall that following the string of APC losses of elections conducted by the INEC under Yakubu, the APC’s National Chairman openly accused him of being a mole of the PDP and an enemy of the ruling party.

The reason for this is not farfetched. Behind Professor Yakubu’s smiling façade is a stubborn and uncompromising insistence on respect for rules. This demand led to a series of inconclusive elections early on in his tenure. He just refused to budge on cases of proven disregard for the Electoral Act. However, he was severely burnt and exposed to the way of politicians during the Edo governorship elections in 2016 where while announcing to the world that the INEC was ready for elections, authorities in Abuja short-circuited him with a fait accompli that led to a shift in the elections. A change instigated mainly by the ruling party which ultimately benefitted from that adjustment. The current INEC’s reformist approach has seen some attempts made at clearing the Augean stable. For the first time, the INEC is carrying out an internal cleansing of itself. Over 250 staff members of the organization indicted for various election malpractices have been handed over for prosecution by the Chairman. It is understood that more have been penciled down for the same treatment.

Again, there is now a deliberate attempt by the INEC to respect the letters of the Electoral Act as intended. The registration of new voters has now become continuous, systemic and frequent engagement with stakeholders has been put in place, a test run of electronic transmission of results has also commenced. It is also noteworthy that the Card Readers, contrary to information being bandied about are now less cumbersome. In fact, during the Anambra elections, the number of faulty Card Reader machines that could not be rectified during accreditation was less than 0.01 percent of total Card readers deployed to the field.

The reforms are yielding fruits. No tribunals have thus far overturned any elections conducted by the Yakubu led INEC. History was made recently when all the candidates in the recently concluded Anambra gubernatorial elections accepted the outcome of the elections and congratulated the winner. This has saved the nation millions of naira in potential litigation cost.

To be fair to INEC’s thousands of staff, there are indeed a quiet majority who are honest, transparent, hardworking and genuinely want the system to work.  However, the active minority who collude with politicians to perpetrate electoral fraud are so entrenched that it would take more than just prosecutions to rid the Commission of rotten eggs in the system. The ease at with which political actors compromise INEC officials suggests that there must be a surgical, methodical and meticulous reorganization of the agency to position it for efficiency. The fact that there is no time for that as the elections are already upon us is a clear and present danger to the 2019 elections. The lacunae for compromise of electoral officers occasioned by the structural defects of the agency is reflected in the audacious governor Wike leaked audio tapes. A recurrence played out in the last Anambra elections were a suspected internal compromise nearly ruined the deployment of Corpers to the field but for a contingency intervention quickly put in place by the INEC. In 2019, when elections will be simultaneously taking place all over the country, I doubt that the INEC will have the capacity to carry out a timeous and efficient intervention in the event of sabotage of its operations from within.

The Nigerian voter experienced a euphoria at the ease of voting out an incumbent president and quickly realized the power of the Voters Card or PVC. The rapid collection of PVCs has reduced the number of outstanding and uncollected PVCs from the embarrassing twelve million that it stood at shortly after the 2015 elections. As at April 2017, there are 66.5m registered voters, out of which 54.43 have collected their PVCs and 7.8m yet uncollected. The impressive collection of PVC belies the fact that there is troubling and deep-seethed apathy among voters in participating in the electoral process. This indifference played out in 2015 where only about 25 million voted in the presidential elections. However, a more potent and dangerous threat to the outcome of the elections is the emergent trend of vote selling. This pattern became brazen during the Edo elections and have now become a norm. The Anambra elections witnessed an upsurge in this practice with parties colluding with officials to foreground this bizarre practice. Why is this a threat to the 2019 elections?

Shortly before the 2015 elections, the Goodluck Jonathan administration requested for billions of dollars to purportedly combat the Boko Haram insurgency. We now know that most of those monies went into manipulating the electoral process to seek re-election for the ruling party. Unsurprisingly, the current government seems to be picking a page out of that last administration’s playbook. Nigerians are bewildered at the request for 1 billion dollars to fight a supposedly “technically defeated” Boko Haram in an election year.  A little bit of statistical Arithmetic will drive home my point and show a possible nexus between elections, security votes and the dangers ahead. Based on observed patterns of votes buying in the most recent elections, the average cost of a vote in Nigeria is about one thousand naira. The margin of defeat between Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari in the last presidential election is nearly two million five hundred thousand votes. It will take just 2.5 billion naira to purchase that number of votes. Now, the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2016 economic outlook report declared that about 66 million Nigerians were living in abject poverty or below the poverty line of less than one dollar per day.

That number is just five hundred thousand short of the number of registered voters in Nigeria and a whopping 11 million higher than the number of Nigerians that have collected their PVCs. All other factors kept constant; if all Nigerians living below poverty line were to vote in the next elections, it would cost just 66 billion naira to buy their votes. At current dollar to naira exchange, the $ 1 billion (357 billion naira) requested by the president to fight Boko Haram is enough to buy the entire registered voters in Nigeria with still a large chunk left to cater for elite gratification and engagement of “prayer warriors” which cost the last administration about 4 billion naira.

The possibilities of a hijack of the process and inducement of the voting public to go against their will in exercising their franchise by money bags from the major parties represent a clear and present danger to the outcome of the elections. However, it will be too simplistic to opine that anyone with most enormous war chest should carry the day. If we have learnt anything from patterns of vote buying, especially during the Anambra elections, it is that the size of a candidate’s wallet does not always determine the eventual decision of who to vote by voters. However, the fact that money is a factor suggests that we may be saddled with another class of ruling elites whose mandate was bought. The implications of this scenario for development and governance is scary.

Elections are serious affairs the world over and present peculiar security challenges, even in more advanced societies. The security architecture usually woven around elections in any nation is determined by the security challenges and needs of that society. Since the life of this Republic, Nigeria has been bedevilled with several security challenges that have made it near impossible to conduct elections safely in specific areas. The Niger Delta militancy proved a significant bottleneck for officials especially in the movement of materials to far-flung creeks that served as the bases of many of the militant groups. The relative peace in that area has not made elections any more comfortable as the groups have now been transformed into standing militias for electoral violence and rigging. But worryingly, the flashpoints have transcended just the Niger Delta and has engulfed virtually most parts of Nigeria.

The resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the North East, murderous internecine clashes in Adamawa and Taraba and the North Central states of Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa, a threatening Niger Delta Avengers, a rampaging cult/gang related deadly violence in Rivers, Lagos and Bayelsa and an underground but potentially lethal IPOB all have the capacity of inciting the political class to trigger Section 26 of the Electoral Act. For those who may not know, that section grants the INEC the powers to postpone elections if in its considered opinion there may be a likely breach of the peace or the occurrence of natural disasters of such ramifications that could jeopardise the conduct of elections. If this happens, we may witness the return of that famous “doctrine of necessity” that was used to install Jonathan as the Acting President in 2010. This time, it may be deployed to elongate the tenure of the sitting president.

Again, in our clime, where politics had obvious economic allocative implications over the course of the tenure of an administration and given the winner takes all structure of our polity, elections have become what some refer to as a “do or die” affair. Given these situations, the role and importance of security personnel in elections have become all too important. I make bold to say that the greatest threat to the 2019 elections is that posed by security institutions saddled with the responsibility of providing a safe environment for the conduct of the elections. In this regard, the role of the police and other sister agencies and their hierarchies need to be critically examined. While an institution like the INEC has made conscious efforts to improve on its performance in the conduct of elections since 2015, security agencies, mainly the police have merely ignored the call for a paradigmatic shift and are continuing with business as usual, even becoming a significant threat to the 2019 elections.

The Inspector General of Police(IGP), who perhaps was rewarded for providing the security cover that ensured that the APC was not blindsided in Kano state in the 2015 elections has shown a continuing lack of competence in the handling and management of elections security. His lack of foresight almost cast a pall over the credibility of the Anambra gubernatorial elections late last year. In an irritating, insensitively embarrassing and most reprehensible display of a lack of grasp of best practices in elections security management, the IGP withdrew the security detail of the governor of the state less than 72 hours to the conduct of the elections. He was rightly overruled by a visibly embarrassed president Buhari.

The IGP was to delay the commencement of a stakeholders meeting called to address election issues by over three hours when he was apparently in Awka. The meeting had to be declared open without him by a vexed INEC chairman until he sauntered into the meeting at an advanced stage. The same IGP without due regard for the security arrangements that were put in place for the Anambra elections, and without consultations, unilaterally changed all the Divisional Police Officers that had been trained for the elections, replacing them with new and completely ignorant officers less than 48 hours to the elections. This was after assuring officials of the EMB that no such move would be undertaken. This was apparently a repeat of the Edo elections strategy which he almost bungled.

The consequences of these actions played out in the field with the security architecture put in place for the elections collapsing midway into the elections. The mitigating factor that prevented a disaster was the resolve of the Anambra people to be peaceful and to conduct themselves in a most decorous manner. An IGP that has shown serial disregard for due process cannot be trusted to provide security supervision for the 2019 elections. What is more, his integrity has been called to question by the allegations of a serving senator. This writer was present at a meeting where the Senate President stated that the IGP had come to “beg” for leniency after the Senate commenced a probe of the allegations against him. However, rather than investigate the weighty allegations against the IGP, the government filed a case against the senator, charging him for peddling “injurious falsehood” against the IGP. The government chose to throw a blind eye to the weighty allegations.

This move by the government raises intriguing posers. Is the IGP being kept around to midwife another ‘Kanoesque’ operation but this time on a much grander scale? Can a man who has so much baggage and skeletons in his cupboard be trusted to be fair to all, and to provide adequate security that will guarantee free and fair elections? A corollary to these posers would be to ask why the humongous number of personnel always touted by the police hierarchy as being deployed for elections is not reflected on the ground? Are funds for these, in my opinion, ghost deployments, being retired on paper? There are so many unanswered questions but if this IGP is left to supervise the security arrangements for the conduct of the 2019 elections, that in my opinion portends grave dangers ahead.

Another security anomaly confronting the 2019 elections is the infighting that is replete with the Buhari administration especially among the secret security agencies (this will be discussed in detail in a later article). Like many Nigerians know, there is no love lost between the Directorate of State Services(DSS) which is supposed to provide intelligence for the elections and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) that is supposed to coordinate all security agencies. This war of attrition between two security institutions whose covert operations help provide proactive intelligence for use in the planning of the security architecture for elections is a dangerous omen for the 2019 elections. Except of course the crises of confidence is deliberately left to fester for some advantage to the political class.

The political class, another critical stakeholder in elections, whether as candidates, party chieftains, godfathers, or campaign buffs are at the heart of the many process manipulations that have so far been discussed. Nothing more needs to be said about them apart from the fact that they will not change their colours in 2019 and as purveyors and apostles of the Machiavellian principles will do whatever it takes to seize and retain power. This desperation is dangerous enough to pose a threat to the elections.

Finally, the judiciary and their growing and expanding influence in elections also add to the jigsaw. The role of the Judiciary in elections is contained in the constitution and the Electoral Act and needs not be rehashed, but this writer’s interest is in the ignoble roles that a few within that arm of government is playing to derail elections and unwholesomely influence their outcome. Politicians have now mastered the act of “shopping for judgements”. We have suddenly awoken to anomalous behaviour of lower courts challenging and giving counter rulings to the rulings of courts of appellate jurisdictions. To buttress the danger inherent in this trend, we only need to recall that the Third Republic was truncated by a court injunction contrived and contracted by the infamous Arthur Nzeribe-led Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). If this example is part of our better-forgotten history, consider that INEC just conducted the Anambra Central Senatorial elections almost three years after it was meant to have taken place. That election was held to ransom by countless litigations spurred on by a complicit judiciary. It is not beyond politicians to use a corrupt few in the bench to derail the 2019 elections especially if they suspect that the will of the people at the ballot box may not go their way.

In conclusion, I want to state that this discourse intervention is by no means meant to be alarmist or aimed at conspiratorially constructing realities to suite a predetermined end, but rather an intellectual contribution to the course of better elections. Like the infallible wisdom of the sages would say, “it is better we start early in the day to chase a black goat before night falls “. The clear and present dangers of the 2019 elections highlighted herein can be averted.

Dr China Matthew Amadi, a 2016 Chevening Scholar in the Department of Government of the London School of Economics, is the Executive Director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy.

Ebonyi APC Restates Commitment To Peace As PDP Commits To ‘War’

The state’s Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday restated the party’s commitment to peaceful and credible 2019 general elections in Ebonyi.

Nwachukwu said the APC would abide by extant laws, rules and regulations guiding peaceful conduct of elections in the country, having seen the need to make its position known especially in view of unsavoury comments allegedly made by some politicians in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

David Umahi, the sitting governor from the PDP had said that he was ready for “war” to ensure the re-election of the state and federal lawmakers from Afikpo North and Ezza South Local Government Area of the state.

Umahi had said “I am a man of war and ready to war in ensuring that the present occupiers of the positions are re-elected in 2019.

“We all came together on the platform of divine mandate and would complete the mandates together.

“When we all finish our tenures, I will force the present occupiers to vacate the seats to ensure that other aspirants realise their ambitions,’’ Umahi said.

Nwachukwu described the governor’s threat as an indication of acceptance of defeat.

“Gov. Umahi, while addressing stakeholders of Afikpo North and Ezza South, who paid him a Christmas visit at his country home in Uburu, declared himself as a man of war and ready to fight for his re-election in 2019.

“For us in APC, such comments are un-dignifying and unwarranted especially coming from a man occupying the exalted office of Governor.

“Election is neither a war nor a do-or-die affair. It is a free contest that is only decided by the electorate through the ballot hence it is not an act or war.

“Our questions then are: who is fighting who and who is warring against, who since it must take two to fight or to get involved in a war,’’ Nwachukwu said.

“The Governor knows that he has been technically defeated and that is why he wants to threaten and intimidate.’’

Nwachukwu said that the APC would rather seek the votes of the people than preach war.

“For us in the opposition, ours is to mobilize the electorate, canvass for their votes and support and to urge them to actively participate in the electoral process through sustained sensitisation.

“We are letting residents know that we are ready and set to take over power not by hook or crook, but by the laid down legal procedure that enhances peaceful and credible elections.

“We in APC subscribe to the laws of the land and this includes those laws and guidelines regulating conduct of behaviour during elections because in Nigeria there are laws guiding actions and behaviour and our actions”.

PDP Has Not Learnt From Past Mistakes, Says Oduah

As preparations for 2019 elections continue to heat up, events unfolding suggest that the former ruling party, PDP which lost massively in the 2015 general elections have not learnt from its past failures. This is according to a member of the National Assembly, Sen. Stella Oduah.

Oduah shared that impunity, imposition, disregard for internal democratic systems, disregard for members and other acts of irregularities in the party’s activities led to its losses in the 2015 general elections and the negative traits still persist in the party till date.

She said “I am still waiting for the party to address the concerns and the issues that I raised.

“The issues essentially boil down to the fact that the party’s Constitution clearly states how primary elections should be conducted.

“It stated the stages the exercise should go through and for each stage, it spelt out a check, and that check is to address the grievances that may come as a result of the process.

“Mine was very clear; I raised alert on the defects I noted. I wrote, complaining and insisted that failure to address those concerns, I wasn’t going to be part of that process,” Oduah said.

“Anything unjust is totally unacceptable for me, and that is where we are now, waiting for the party to address those concerns,” she said.

“If you have done something that made it impossible for people to exercise their rights, you disenfranchise them in the process and had a resultant effect, and you repeat it, obviously you haven’t learnt your lessons.

“I wish the party will revisit and address all the concerns.

“This is necessary because when people are aggrieved and you are not concerned about those grievances, you are saying two things: `go to hell’ and “there is nothing you can do about it,” she said.

2019: Presidential Nomination Forms To Cost N10 Million

Following the amendment of the electoral act by the senate, news reports have it  that the form for any presidential aspirant ahead of the 2019 elections will now be set at N10 million naira for all political parties.  This was made known after the eighth senate passed the Electoral Act No 6 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2017 on March 30, 2017, and the bill is aimed at instituting reforms in the electoral process by making it more free, fair and credible.

The new provision in the Electoral Act will see governorship aspirant paying N5million for nomination form, senatorial aspirants purchasing nomination forms for N2million and House of Representative hopeful for N1million.

Councillor-ship aspirants inward will cough out N150,000, while area chairmanship aspirants will pay N250,000 for nomination and States of House Assembly aspirants will pay N500,000 to purchase nomination forms.

The bill also intend to ensure that parties can no longer impose arbitrary nomination fees on political aspirants.

It should be noted that in the build up to the 2015 election, President Muhammadu Buhari said he borrowed money to pay for his own nomination form, which is about N25m.

Meanwhile, with regards to the ongoing speculations about President Buhari re-contesting for the 2017 elections, here are some thoughts.

While, Chekwas Okorie, the presidential candidate of the United Progressives Party (UPP) in the 2015 presidential election, says Buhari will not even attempt to go for a second term, the presidency as represented by Femi Adesina says Buhari will win if he contests another election.

 

 

2019 Elections: APC Reconcile Members in Ebonyi

In preparations for a formidable outing in 2019 elections, the Ebonyi chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has begun reconciliatory moves to unite displeased members of the party.

The State Chairman, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu, Ebonyi APC Chairman, in an interview with the media said that zonal committees were set up to reconcile the aggrieved members.

In his words, “We inaugurated the three zonal committees with a charge to reach out to all aggrieved members who, for one reason or the other, left the fold during the leadership crisis.

“As we gradually approach the election year 2019, it is imperative that we put our acts together by ensuring unity and progress of the party, without which we can hardly wrest power from the ruling party.

“The reconciliation exercise is a mile stone achievement, and I am happy that the move was embraced by party elders and stakeholders, ” Nwachukwu said.

“The committees are expected to take the message of peace, love and unity to these aggrieved members in their various zones and woo them back to the party.

“The initiative is to restore the unity, oneness and love that once existed in the party and I have confidence in the ability of men and women saddled with the responsibility”