The 'Wazobian' Version of 'Super Tuesday'

by SOC Okenwa

Penultimate Tuesday was dubbed “Super Tuesday” by the Nigerian press because that day was set aside as the D-Day for the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. The American ‘Super Tuesday’ had come and gone with no clear decisive Democratic primary winner between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Senator Obama has jolted the calculation of political pundits who gave him little chance against a Clinton, Hillary whose husband Bill remains (despite the Monika Lewinsky White House sex scandal) a presidential asset any day.

Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton (whoever wins the Democratic primaries) will be making history in Uncle Sam. Barack as the first black American to occupy the White House and Hillary the first iron Lady to become President of the free world! But before that history is eventually made in November this year there is a Republican John McCain to contend with. Victory is not guaranteed outrightly for the Democratic candidate in spite of the fact that President George Bush has messed up the American Presidency in the eyes of many Americans.

Barack — the son of Kenyan Obama who was killed in an auto crash years ago in Nairobi and an American mother who died of cancer — is poised for victory over Mrs Clinton. The two Senators are indeed quality candidates with impressive backgrounds. With none of the candidates technically knocked out yet the race to the White House is getting more and more interesting. Obama is matching the Clintons dollar for dollar and rhetoric for rhetoric. The Kenyan-American is a symbol of the title of his own book: The Audacity of Hope!

Apart from powerful rhetorics Barack Obama has a major disadvantage found in his political inexperience though he’s eminently qualified to be the first black to mount the saddle in White House early next year. What he lacks in political experience and administration the Clintons have in abundance. Though Mrs Clinton is promising “solutions” she has had to take seriously the Obama phenomenon which earlier in the race was dismissed ostensibly as a weak challenge(r). Obama has grace, he’s got a charming personality and charisma! And he’s endowed with mesmerising speech delivery that baffles opponents and critics.

Hillary Clinton will however make a better President (with an experienced hubby by her side) and despite Obamania methinks she may win on a slim margin. As an agent of hope and change however Obama is bent on making history and changing the face of American politics for good. While he has my symbolic support as an African the issue of race and gender may very well be the ultimate decider in the race to Washington DC.

The Obama magic has not yet attained its objectives, it must be adumbrated here. His endorsement by the old American political dynasties could be seen as a result of deep envy for the new record about to be shattered by the Clintons. Yet the inevitable consequencies of an Obama candidacy are far-fetched: the challenges of overcoming a Republican candidate in the Presidential poll come November may be much harder than say a Hillary as flagbearer.

The ‘Wazobian’ “Super Tuesday” (that is the Nigerian version) on the other hand came and when the judgment was delivered many followers of events in Nigeria were not at all surprised as the verdict went President Yar’Adua’s way. General Buhari and ex-VP Atiku were told in judicial jargon to either take their case to the Supreme Court or go home and wait for 2011 for another presidential contest.

Personally I was not surprised by the verdict. I have nothing serious against President Umaru Yar’Adua. Come to think of it he was made President by a whole undemocratic force comprising Obasanjo, Maurice Iwu, Olabode George, Tony Anenih and many other PDP charlattans. So in a way even if we all agreed and accepted that the April 2007 presidential poll was marred by unprecedented rigging the President cannot be summarily held accountable for he was neither the INEC boss nor the god of Ota who pronounced the elections “do or die”.

The Ogebe and co ruling however, I’m afraid, had not in any way given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), under Prof Maurice Iwu, a clean bill of health. If Iwu and his conscienceless men and women in INEC thought it expedient to feel any sense of triumph or vindication then something must be terribly wrong with them. The April 2007 general elections were fraudulently organized and criminally manipulated.

Since jurisprudence is not about emotions I think Atiku and Buhari failed, in the eyes of the law, to prove their cases or so the jurists ruled. And come to think of it, even if the presidential poll were to be conducted yet again — this time ‘Iwu-lessly’ and ‘OBJ-lessly’ — I believe Yar’Adua would triumph over these duo. I for one, if I happen to be in Nigeria the day of balloting, would vote for him!

I am having some problem however to justify why and how Justice John Fabiyi and other learned Judges could employ complex grammar to scare the layman away from simply understanding why his vote of last year was not allowed to count. When one remembers that the Nigerian judiciary has been up and doing in recent times it calls for some hope and faith in the system that has its own fair share of the generalized national corruption quagmire.

But when one remembers that the same judiciary declared one ex-convict James Onanefe Ibori different from James Onanefe Ibori the ex-Governor of Delta State when opponents contested the moral credibility of an Ibori as Governor then the law is an ass indeed! The technicality of justice sometimes conveys nothing but confusion in the minds of non-legal experts like us. The same Court of Appeal once ruled that Maurice Iwu’s INEC had powers to disqualify candidates only for the Supreme Court to rule otherwise!

It is worth repeating here for purposes of emphasis that the April 21 presidential election was a farce and that the result was astronomically and unacceptably manipulated in favour of the present occupant of Aso Villa. Atiku and Buhari may not have gathered or presented enough and overwhelming evidence, according to the learned Justices, to upturn the election but the truth remains that President Yar’Adua cannot be said to be a President elected on a solid electoral ground. In French it is called: “un President trés mal elu”.

The sacredness of his mandate therefore is still open to question despite the Court of Appeal (PEPT) ruling. Mallam Yar’Adua is both a winner and a loser morally on this score. From all indications, it must be indicated, there’s a manifest judicial partisanship in the Tribunal’s ruling and this is utterly contemptuous.

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