Nigerian Elections are Bought and Sold Like Suya

by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

There’s this book by Peter Enahoro entitled You Gotta Laugh to Cry.

The so-called democratic elections in Nigeria almost always end up making all Nigerians laugh to cry.

Let’s start from Nigeria’s much-ballyhooed return to democracy in 1999 during which an army ruler handed over to a former army ruler who had pulled off his army uniform.

Well before the 1999 presidential election, the American journalist Karl Maier who was on a tour of Nigeria to write his book This House Has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis told me that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had been chosen by the powers-that-be to return as the elected leader of Nigeria.

The pre-eminent politicians of the era in the G-34 Group that formed the PDP put it as a rule that anybody who aspired to contest for the presidency must first win his local government election.

Obasanjo could not win his ward but the rule had to perforce be put away for the erstwhile imprisoned man from Otta to become PDP presidential candidate over the vain efforts of Chief Alex Ekwueme in the primaries.

The Obasanjo machine was so heavily funded that it made the challenge of Chief Olu Falae in the presidential election proper to look futile.

Even so, not a few observers stressed that the underdog actually won the election, and the legal challenge had to get up to the Supreme Court.

Many years later, to borrow the opening words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua told the world that the election that brought him to Nigerian presidential power was flawed.  

In my book, the only good thing about recent Nigerian elections is President Goodluck Jonathan’s personal sacrifice to cede power in 2015.

Any talk of the elections being free, fair and credible belongs to fiction of the magical realism type of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Nigerian elections are simply bought and sold like suya.

The buying and selling of Nigerian elections have abiding partners in the mischievously named Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a pathetic judiciary, crooked politicians, and their foreign and local allies.

Lest we forget, the 2015 monster that is now hurting Nigeria to death was forged when the then INEC chairman Professor Attahiru Jega showed his hands early enough by manipulating the re-jigging of polling booths to favour his northern constituency.

The controversy that this elicited made Jega to shift to the next strategy of starving Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) to some zones even as the war-torn north had full compliments of PVC distribution.

The clinching dimension was the card reader which was never tested before the commencement of the elections.

It was obvious to any objective mind that the umpire was only working towards a pre-determined end instead of actually preparing to conduct credible polls.

Like American TV wrestling, the Nigerian election was fixed.

American Secretary of State John Kerry had to come to Nigeria to issue some warnings when the polls were initially postponed.

In the end, the elections held with underage voters, multiple voting, ballot-box snatching etc having a field day.

It may be quite convenient to dismiss Nigerian politicians as master riggers of elections without paying due compliments to our colonial masters, Britain, that introduced the high art into our benighted shores.

Because the pre-Independence elections were rigged by the British certain figures are now taken as a given in Nigerian polls.

In the run-up to the Second Republic elections, the forger of the Twelve-Two-Third legal abracadabra Richard Akinjide stated that his party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), needed to produce its presidential candidate from the North because the region has the largest population in the country.

Akinjide later learnt in his life that this population issue is all a ruse because no credible census has ever been conducted in the country from the colonial times to this day.

The censuses and elections have all been manipulated to fit a formula to serve the interests of the British colonists and their minions.

Little wonder then that Kano and Jigawa states posted more votes than the entire Southeast in 2015!

Now that I have mentioned Jigawa in this piece on buying and selling of Nigerian elections, let it be known that one of the fictional factions of political parties in the about-to-be contested governorship election in Anambra State had to go up North to Jigawa State to get a binding court injunction in an election scheduled to hold down South in Anambra State.

Before anybody could understand the legal geography of the matter, INEC published the bloke’s name as the authentic candidate of the political party!

INEC’s national commissioner in-charge of publicity and voter education, Festus Okoye, an expired human rights hustler, now a hireling more like, had earlier magisterially decreed that the party had been excluded from the election.

The Jigawa judgment had to come in dramatically as a deux ex machina to save blushes because the chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, countered Okoye by stressing that the party had not been barred from the polls and INEC knew of no other faction in the party.

Remarkably INEC had received and stamped the uploaded nomination of the proper candidate on July 2 whose name it ought to publish according to the Electoral Act not later than seven days – that is July 9.

INEC had to wait for the Jigawa legerdemain to publish the spurious candidate’s name on July 16.

Shamelessness is the vilest disease as it does appear that INEC is in cahoots with three despicable brothers from the most notorious family in Anambra politics involved in the choreographed injunctions and counter-injunctions.

It is incumbent on INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, not to let his compromised lieutenants, dodgy politicians, shady judiciary, and the scandalous “orders from above” reduce democracy at all levels in Nigeria to a purchasable farce.

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