Ekiti knows the President’s Promise of Electoral Reform Sounds Hollow

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

This of course is less about the comedy of a rerun election that was just gerrymandered and concluded in Ekiti, but more about the conscience of our President. What can one write about a show of shame? When the self proclaimed “servant leader” took office on May 29 from the prominent rigger-in-chief of Otta, he promised to clean house. He promised to change the way Nigerians elect their leaders; institute electoral reforms and other elegant yada-yada; well ask Dr. Fayemi of the Action Congress how effective Mr. President’s promise has been.

While many of us remained skeptical of the “go-slow” gentleman from Katsina, others told us we should keep faith that somehow this chef beneficiary of rigging and electoral malpractice can conduct a self surgery, and remove the cancer of electoral malpractice from Nigeria’s system. Well, now we know better. Since then, the not so innocent beneficiary of electoral criminality has instituted the reforms of his kind. What kind of reform keeps the paycheck flowing to the worst electoral chief in Nigeria’s history, Dr. Maurice Iwu to be precise?

Indeed, during his now famed Guardian interview, the President comes out patently dishonest and cagey in two areas: electoral reforms, and his association with corrupt persons. While on the whole, he came across as someone who knows what he is dealing with when it came to the myriad of developmental challenges that face our nation (more on that in the future) – in those areas that matter the most, the rule of law and fostering the culture of ethics and fair play in our sick society, the president was found wanting. At the cross roads between associating with sick and patently corrupt personalities like Ibori and Igbinedion, and condoning electoral malpractice sits his continued association with INEC as it is currently constituted with Iwu as its leader.

There is no leader in the world, worth the quantum of his leadership that will retain the head of an agency that fails more than three out of ten times. Indeed, if the number of elections held in 2003 that has been asked to be redone is anything to go by, Maurice Iwu and his INEC are failures. Yet for some ugly reason, or some magical reasoning- our President has decided that not only will Iwu stay, but that Iwu’s term is somehow indeterminable. Asked if he will keep Iwu beyond his current term, our President that could quote power generated in megawatts, and contract sums awarded for roads to the nearest tens somehow lost his memory and couldn’t even remember when Iwu’s term ends!

Since the inception of this administration, I have shied away from criticizing it, conscious of the fact that Yar’Adua himself did not even expect to be President. I mean, who can blame the man? But this perception of him as an unwilling beneficiary of rigging is gradually giving away to the reality that he sits atop a cabal that is determined to deny Nigerians the freedoms of democracy to choose and elect the leaders they wish without intimidation or fear. Nothing proves this than the manner in which the recommendations of the Uwais commission was handled and to which the President offered feeble defense when he sat down with Dr. Abati and his colleagues. Hearing him defend the indefensible situation where election riggers usurp power and hold it for many years until it is reclaimed with the injunction that “The best thing is to leave the system just as it is”, proves the President is no reformer. Reformers do not leave the system the way it is, they improve it!

Mr. President cannot claim there is no middle ground between the current unwarranted situation where riggers get installed and then are allowed to even stand election again in the rerun instead of cooling their feet in prison. Mr. President cannot defend, without sounding hollow, the state where the duty circuits of our courts and electoral tribunals are over loaded, which invariably elongate the petition process, because of an incompetent electoral chief. Mr. President must find it ridiculous, as educated as he appears to be, to defend the situation where chief executives on the state and federal levels pack electoral commissions with their relatives and pretend everything is Uhuru. No it is not!

The President sounds hollow!

It is a shame that in this 21st century, orderly election still eludes our country. Even primary school pupils can muster enough courage across Nigeria to orderly elect their class prefects, yet Mr. President cannot order his foxes to their cages to let Nigeria be. To allow Nigeria and Nigerians enthrone true democracy devoid of violence, maiming and intimidation. To be a statesman, and do what no other Nigerian leader has done, and be entrusted to shepherd this process. All of this for power? I know the President is a student of history; may be he can research what political crisis preceded the demise of the first, second and third republics. They all had something in common: a badly handled election!

In spite of the President’s gallant failure, I am heartened by the spirit of the people of Ekiti led bravely by their true leader, Dr. Fayemi. It is equally important that Dr. Fayemi not give up and see to it that Oni is denied the luxury of electoral robbery: a heritage Oni now shares with the President. Action Congress supporters must also avoid violence because that only plays into the hands of the Pindipi thugs that have overtaken our politics. The desire of PDP is not only to steal our mandates today, but to render the political process unattractive to future participants so they can loot our nation dry. Hence, we must keep faith. The courts will render justice in due course, and I only hope Oni is conscious that one day he will be held accountable for every dime he is spending illegally today. God willing, in few months the usurper of Ekiti’s mandate will be thrown out (take that to the bank); and whether that day is postponed or not- the President’s electoral reform promises nevertheless sounds hollow!

This Greek gift is sure slowly, unraveling! Ekiti has led, now is left for the rest of Nigeria to follow. Ekiti kete!

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