Today, there are more than 11 oil companies operating over 159 oil fields and over 1481 wells. Nigeria’s total earnings from crude oil has been put at over $ 600 billion and N1.8 trillion per annum in the last 46 years. (See ADB Report, 2005). Yet, the country is replete with marginalized under-achievers from the Niger Delta to Kutuwenji.
The 2007 Elections. The International Republican Institute, a US based non-government organization, on 23rd of April, 2007, scored the April 2007 elections as below the standard set by previous elections and international standards witnessed by IRI around the globe.
The report said that “Nigerian leaders and the system put in place to mid-wife the process, failed Nigerians and lacked credibility because it denied many people the opportunity to vote”.
The observers noted that “ neither the spirit of Nigerians who went to the polls to cast their ballots nor the dedication of the thousands of poll workers struggling to execute their responsibilities in polling stations throughout the country were matched by their leaders”.
The report said that irregularities were observed on a higher scale during the federal elections than during the state elections, noting that underage voting and lack of privacy at the polling units, falsified result sheets and manipulation of voters by the police and party agents were re-curing occurrences. There were violence-related security concerns during all the elections.
The current INEC Chairman needs to plug these deficiencies, if the 2011 election will not suffer the fate of the 2007 elections. This is a Herculean task.
General Buhari, the ANPP leader, who was a contestant at the 2007 presidential elections in a statement to the Nigerian Press, said that the presidential elections were neither free nor fair. He declared the elections were “blatantly rigged, surpassing even the massive fraud of 2003”.
He noted that “Nigeria will survive only if the elementary and basic rules of democracy are observed”.
Alhaji Abukakar Atiku said that the 2007 elections were the “worst poll in Nigeria history”. He spoke to Alifa Daniel at his Oba Akenzua Street, Abuja in2007. He observed that “70 to 80 percent of Nigerians were disenfranchised, while symbolic elections were made to take place at the state capitals”.
He said that two people must be held responsible for the electoral chaos, Professor Maurice Iwu and President Olusegun Obasanjo. He complained that his picture did not appear on the ballot papers. He described this as anomalous.
Mr. Max Van Den Berg, the EU representative and Madeleine Albright’s NDI, declared “the 2007 presidential election heavily flawed and perhaps the worst in all region of the world”.
The NDI said that the flaws could cast a big question mark on the credibility of leaders, who emerged from the polls. This was true, going by the disclaim and contempt with which
the international community treated the regime of Umaru Yar Adua.
The NDI observed that the elections “were marred by poor organisation, lack of essential transparency, widespread procedural irregularities, significant evidence of fraud, particularly during the result collation process, lack of equal conditions for contestants and numerous incidence of violence”.
There were barriers to popular participation and disenfranchisement as well as orchestrated delays in the delivery of electoral materials and in the opening of polling sites, which the NDI said were unprecedented.
The ECOWAS team led by Sir Dauda Jawara of Gambia called for a reform of the electoral process. The ECOWAS team recommended that the independence of INEC must be assured in terms of the appointment and security of tenure of electoral commissioners as well as guarantee adequate and autonomous funding for INEC.
The atmosphere for impunity for elections violations must cease, executive impunity should be removed and political will must be demonstrated by parties at both federal and state levels to end the practice of hiring thugs to perpetuate electoral violence.
Responding to INEC Chairman’s, 80 percent self-assessment in 2007, Mrs. Madeleine Albright said, “No, I will give INEC a failing grading and that Nigerians can ask the National Assembly to do something about INEC”. However, what Mrs. Albright did not know was that 80 per cent of the members of the National Assembly benefited inexorably from the ELECTORAL FRAUD of 2007.
The NDI statement was authoritative in that the six-page NDI report was the handiwork of eminent world personalities like Dr Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia, Mahamane Ousmane, Speaker of ECOWAS parliament and former Nigerian President Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada and Justice Yvonne Makgoro of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
The EU team was joined by a delegation from the European Parliament led by John Attard Multalto and Vittorio Agno letto, both of whom endorsed the 11-page statement read by Max Van Den Berg.
In spite of all the evidence provided by General Buhari’s Attorney, the Supreme Court of Nigeria entered a curious and amazing judgment, which many Law students all over Nigeria have mocked at ever since.
A Bonded Political Association
The Guardian Newspaper (Nigeria) on Sunday, February 4th 2007, reported that the PDP had “compelled PDP candidates to a “Bond of Allegiance, during the April polls and subsequent inauguration of the next dispensation from May 29, 2007.
Office holders (elected and appointed) of a new government that may beformed by the party are also to be covenanted to a strict “articles of commitment”. The aspirants/candidates to various offices on the platform of the party were reportedly made to sign the bond contained in a three-page document headed,’ .
A PDP leadership Bond- Articles of Commitment’ “a sore –point in the document wrote Ezomon,” is the subjugation of candidates /office holders to the supremacy and authority of the party at all times, others are to avoid joining opponents of the of the party to organize attacks on its leadership and policies in such a manner as to bring the party into contempt and public ridicule, and any measure or position that would tend to polarize the party”.
Dr Eluyemi, the late Apena of Ife and also a founding member of Osun PDP expressed dismay at the development.
I Some PDP governors and candidates were quite uncomfortable with the document but ambition was too strong for them to reject the document. There is nothing wrong with being loyal to the party of one’s choice but to swear is to call God to witness and it is a serious matter.
The declaration by the candidate/office holder that if at any time he failed, refused and/or neglected to abide by these principles, he shall accept the verdict of the party in accordance with its constitution is frightening This affirmation robs the candidate /office holder of his free will and the status of a free willing participant.
Since the 4th of February 2007, many have quit the party and some have returned. The PDP manifesto; PDP Electoral Guidelines, PDP Code of Conduct, PDP Statement on Candidate desirable Qualities, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act and regulations are regulatory documents to assist party ruler ship.
The party has to learn from the history of political theory and statecraft in order to effectively govern a complicated nation made up of those who run, those who walk and those who do not move at all.
Writing in the Nigerian Guardian newspaper on 13th November 2006, in an article entitled “Destroyers of Nigeria”, this author observed that Nigeria has been hurt deeply by untutored praet
orian guards and political under-achievers.
Consequently, we have had to waltz through the nightmarish cabaret of broken dreams. Nigerians must prevent all destroyers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from getting near to centers of power, in our own interest. Conscientious and courageous compatriots must arise.
We must re-structure Nigerian politics, economics and law so that their guiding principles could reflect the ethos of Nigeria’s cultural life.
We have been on the wrong road and have insisted in running along it. We must make a clear distinction between belief and knowledge. Those who appear to have gotten away with their stolen wealth are brazenly out to seek office again.
The Nigerian psyche seems vehemently opposed to learning from its history. It is important for our citizens to insist that the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power
(Section 15 (5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
We do not seem to know where we are coming from nor where we are going. We ought to lay the philosophical and practical foundations for good governance in Nigeria. This is far more critical than having a successful election. If after a good election, we enter the same whirlwind of uncertainty, of chance happenings, guesswork and ad-hocism, it could be tragic.
It is not improper to ask Nigerians to be better than their traditions. Political absolutism as it is being orchestrated by one party could lead to despotism. For example, someone had
Suggested that the EFCC and ICPC should tap the telephones of suspected citizens. It is trite to say that such practices can be misused.
It is one step away from Neo-nazi incandescent light of repression. It breaks the golden cord of law, which good men abhor. Constitutional rule is effective when it guarantees the dignity of subjects. Law must protect human rights. When leaders accumulate governance experience they can then articulate the wisdom that aids social intelligence. This point is of fundamental philosophical importance in that wisdom and knowledge enhance the leader’s decision-making processes.
A leader’s socio-political awareness is crucial to good governance. A very important issue in Nigeria’s governance is the issue of foreign capital. It continuously and progressively exploits and de-humanizes the people of the client states. Imperialism and foreign capital impose leaders they can manipulate.
Those of them intensify a high degree of penetration and control of client states. These are felt in the manufacturing, oil and agricultural sectors. Our national political economic decisions are defined in Euro-American boardrooms located in Nigeria. This practice is more acute in high-tech and big corporations which shape and share power in Nigeria.
When our nation produced cocoa, palm oil and groundnuts in abundance, we had a major say in our economic organization even though European firms and their agents, with cash advances played a significant role in whittling away our total control.
Now that every sector of our economy is dominated by foreign interests, we are economically very dependent. Even our Central Bank was brazenly tinkering with selling local banks to foreign capital until better counsel prevailed. In Nigeria, there is the conflict of the ideal and the actual.
Many conflict situations in Nigeria, must find answers, so that after a successful run of Election 2011, we do not begin again to go nowhere slowly.
In an organised society, political parties play a major role in governance since they are expected to formulate the ideas and ideals that should move any society to gain acceleration in the right direction. They proffer reasonable and rational programmes for societaldevelopment.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) under Part III supplemental, from 221-226 grants a monopoly to only political parties “to” canvass for votes for any candidate at an election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election.
This restrictive proclamation excludes broad participation and further excludes capable candidates, who could have been sponsored by other associations. Registration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is important for the sake of regulation and proper documentation.
Opening membership “to every citizen” falls short of checks on citizens whose civic conduct have been tainted by criminal conduct and these will only compound the problems of political parties.
Article 223 (i) says that the principal officers of the party should be democratically elected periodically. This is a positive declaration since political association is voluntary, forcing governing bodies and the executive committees to “reflect federal character”.
Article (225) (3), (4), 226 (1) spell out in detail the regulatory functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission for these regulatory measures to work successfully, the Chairman of INEC must be fearless, knowledgeable about the constitutional authority which guides his office.
Article 228 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria spells out the regulatory role of the National Assembly vis-à-vis INEC.
From Nigeria’s dismal history of elections, the people have irredeemably lost interest and trust in our political parties conflicting claims to power. The noisy talk about “building confidence in the electoral process” is merely hortatory. Confidence building takes time and any rational thinker will see the period of seven months before 2011 elections as too short to build confidence in the electorate. Jingles, radio and televised campaign advertisements are inane measures. They will prove inadequate.
REGISTERING VOTERS AND VOTERS RESOLUTION
Voter apathy is so strong that getting people to register o vote will be a problem. Disenchantment with elections in Nigeria has eaten into the marrow of the Nigerian electorate. Some people are asking what happened to their votes in 2007?“ What is the guarantee that their vote s will count even after registration and casting of ballot?
How am I sure that the 280 people who were killed in 2007 will not resurrect to vote again?
What happened to those who physically meddled with ballot boxes in 2007? Only an incurable optimist will speak tongue-in-cheek about “achieving credible voters registration” within the short time available.
It is difficult to convince the voters about “credible” voters’ registration as their memories reek with pain and disappointment.
As we have already discussed earlier in this paper, “Constitutionalism and the Electoral Process” is a fascinating idolatry. Those who were declared winners by the Supreme Court in 2007 were conscious of the fact that judicial manipulation and not upholding constitutionalism put them in power.
Even if the electoral process is free and fair, the short-comings in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot guarantee social and economic rights. Chapter iv, which deals with “Fundamental Rights” does not guarantee those social and economic rights that accelerate social development.
Some of the fundamental rights proclamation are political and ethical. The analysis of actual forms of constitution show that states that are capitalist-oriented are satisfied with political and ethical proclamation s without any determination to actualize any social contract with the under-privileged compatriots.
The result is that a neglected populace engages in despicable self-help measures like armed robberies, stealing, terrorist acts and mindless violence.
An entrenched oligarchy is stifling the dem
ocracy we are trying to build with vain ambitions, declarations, proposals, good intentions, cutting tapes, hilarious ceremonies, self praise, adulation and neglect of the humanistic needs of our poverty-stricken population.
Democratic and oligarchic principles do not always pave the way to sustainable development. The social foundation collapses each time the contradictions manifest in a mixed-up socio-economic system Where such a situation exists the magistrates are over-worked and overwhelmed. Then, people would be pushed to revolt.
I recall the events that led to the French, American, Russian, Hitler- led revolution, Mao-led revolution and other revolutions. Lack of knowledge of history, law and political science creates that emptiness that favour passivity and adulterated wishful thinking of the governing class, who are propped up by armed force.