Home Opinion Rogue INEC tars Buhari’s exit, By Ike Abonyi

Rogue INEC tars Buhari’s exit, By Ike Abonyi


The greatest threat to the constitutional right to vote is voter fraud.” – Lynn Westmoreland

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is not known to shy away from airing his views, warts and all. He always speaks out courageously and pungently. Obasanjo’s quick and immediate reaction to the ongoing election brouhaha pointedly reminds President Muhammadu Buhari of the danger the fallout of last Saturday’s polls is posing to his legacy.

The ever-blunt former president also acknowledged that, unlike Buhari in other areas of governance, his commitment to bequeathing a credible and transparent election has been apparent and convincing. But all that, he added, would be eroded if he failed to quickly stem the rising dangerous tide.

Not a few Nigerians would have easily bought into Obasanjo’s positive rating of Buhari given his repeated assurances of a free, fair, and credible election, his resolve to confront vote buying from the root, and the redesign of the national currency on the eve of the election. The marching orders to the heads of the national security apparatchiks on the election all combine to interpret his resolve for a transparent election as real and empowering. As a result, many government watchers were already predicting a prodigious exit for the president by May 29, 2023.

But his various utterances at Bola Tinubu’s rallies, declaring him the next president, voting for him, and displaying who he voted for to the people, plus the BVAS scam coming from the Independent National Electoral Commission, all combine to raise suspicions about the president’s sincerity. Could it be that the president’s positive utterances are gimmicks and an alibi to confuse us as in his inaugural in 2015, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”? That tended to portray his neutrality in governance but as it turned out his rule became one of the most nepotistic administrations in our history. As it stands now, unless Buhari heeds the wise counsel of Obasanjo, and acts swiftly to tame the monster from the February 25, 2023, presidential election, his anticipated heroic exit by May 29 may be stillborn. In its place, his name will enter the democratic black book.

Voting in an election, we believe, is a civic sacrament to be performed by all patriotic citizens of voting age. Last Saturday, Nigerians proved their patriotism by to their various polling centers to vote. But events in some democracies like what Nigerians are currently witnessing after last Saturday’s Presidential poll merely decorates a British Playwright, Tom Stoppard’s view that “it’s not the voting that’s a democracy, it’s the counting” meaning that voting does not guarantee you victory but the counting.

In Nigeria and various other third-world democracies, counting rather than voting has proven to be more important and strategic in achieving victory. In a bizarre political setting in Africa, figures can be cooked and delivered even where voting did not take place.

February 25, 2023, came and passed as yet another day in history. The long-awaited day that Nigeria was looking forward to a make-or-mar decision about its nationhood came and passed disappointments. Did the day live up to expectations or was it just like every other day? Answers to the above questions will depend on where you are standing to view the situation.

To those who believe that the people, not any group or organization, should determine who gets the mandate, it is a day of dashed hope, a day when our democratic gear was put in reverse. A setback day when the will of the people suffered a negative reset.

After the amended Electoral Act was signed into law by President Buhari in 2021, many thought that an antidote had come to address persisting electoral fraud that has always dented Nigeria’s democratic profile. The almighty Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), inserted in the new law as a means of voting in an election was generally hailed as the biggest anti-electoral fraud move. After it was successfully used in the Osun State gubernatorial election last year, its positives increased.

Ahead of the February 25 presidential election, not a few believed that with the BVAS device, votes will count and if votes count, the right candidate will emerge as the winner of the election.

Nigeria has had an ugly and chequered history of electoral fraud but began erasing that aspect of its record in 2015 when it delivered a new type of democracy. A huge plus was when from an African country, an incumbent President and Commander-in-Chief watched himself lose an election and went further to accept it by placing a telephone call to the winner. He topped it by arranging a seamless transition. The global democratic community stood in awe of what we did and doffed their hats for Nigeria. No wonder the image behind this landmark achievement, former President Goodluck Jonathan is being celebrated today both within and outside the shores of Africa and the world.

But last Saturday, the government that hugely benefited from that singular historic feat, conducted one of the worst elections in our history. Visibly and unashamedly thwarting the will of the people without a twinkle of an eye in such a way that as you read this conversation the nation is in a heavy melancholy, in a deep feeling of pain and sadness arising from the election results from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on the Presidential election of last Saturday. Not the normal sadness and joy that attend election results declaration. In the case at hand, the defeated feel cheated.

The BVAS of hope before the election has in a post-election analysis become a huge scam. What is even putting our electoral process at risk is INEC selling a make-believe story that there was no voting fraud. Last Saturday, there was enormous voter fraud, anybody telling you otherwise is a huge liar. What we saw on Saturday was a BVAS scam whose app was in the custody of INEC and was adequately deployed for a purpose of delivering a particular candidate and party. The excitement that greeted the electioneering and Election Day last Saturday has turned into graveyard silence whose implosion could be unimaginable.

Whether President Buhari is aware of the grand electoral fraud or not, he has a choice, good and evil to choose from. Good for him to act promptly and stem the nonsense and save our democracy and nation. By his looking away and allowing the fraud to germinate and engulf the nation and record him as the converted democrat who benefited from it but ended up destroying it. The choice is his to have a heroic exit by May 29, 2023, or a cataclysmic ending.

For INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, and his team I like to leave them with these words to chew and either swallow or spit off.

You may do as you wish without fear of retribution. It may serve you, however, you need to be aware of consequences because Justice can span years but retribution is not subject to a calendar. The forces of retribution are always awake and listening. God help us.

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