Why Iwu Failed

by Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

Again, despite all the stern-looking, gun-wielding soldiers unleashed into the streets to intimidate everyone, ballot boxes were still stolen, and stuffed with already thumped ballot papers. Were these perpetrated by privileged hoodlums? By the way, I thought Iwu had promised us that his computers would detect multiple-voting?How many of such were detected last Saturday? We surely would like to know, because so much time and energy was wasted on this Data Capture machine stuff (or whatever they called it), and Iwu had stubbornly insisted on using them despite the position of many Nigerians and the National Assembly on it. He must be willing to tell us the advantage that has accrued to the process as a result of their usage.

Well, I have heard it mentioned here and there that the only consolation for the very disappointing elections held last Saturday is the realization that no matter the outcome of the overly fraudulent exercise, President Olusegun Obasanjo would certainly show Nigerians his back on May 29. The belief is that foundations for a new and progressive Nigeria can only be successfully laid at his back.

Indeed, there is an ever growing consensus that the most outstanding legacy of the outgoing regime in Abuja, apart from institutionalization of corruption, glamorization of incompetence and failure, and extreme lawlessness, is, perhaps, our gradual graduation from massive rigging of elections to no elections at all. It is most unfortunate, and what Nigerians must insist on is that such a satanic practice must go with the regime that instituted it.

After massively rigging the elections, Obasanjo has flooded the streets with gun-wielding, stern-faced soldiers to intimidate everyone into silence and suppress and crush any form of dissent. Nigeria today looks like a typical coup day, and everyone lives in fear. That is Obasanjo democracy. Democracy of fear and intimidation.

Well, the main loser in the whole charade they are calling elections would of coursebe Prof Maurice Iwu who would always be remembered on the wrong side of history as the man who sought to gratify the narrow interests of a tiny, unpatriotic few at the expense of the national expectation for progress and democratic stability. Whatever ugly incidents that these elections are throwing up will surely be blamed on him.

In Imo State, for instance, the Governorship election was cancelled because of alleged eruptions of violence, yet in some states where worse things happened, the elections have been announced and applauded by the PDP/INEC. And mark you, the elections into the State House of Assembly in Imo State in which the PDP achieved a “fraudslide” victory was not also cancelled. INEC is yet to tell us how it determined that the violence was only perpetrated in respect of the governorship polls, even though the two elections ran simultaneously.

But what everyone knows is that INEC/PDP cancelled the Gubernatorial election in Imo State and fixed a run-off election on April 28, so that the PDP which had expelled its Governorship candidate can now have the opportunity to field another candidate and equally rig him in. Nothing can be so outrageous. Iwu does not even pretend at all about where his loyalty lies in this election.

Well, after the all this mess, Iwu would certainly sit down to count his losses, just as the nation is doing now, and determine where the rain began to beat him. For instance, the way he had gone about his present job had led some people to probe his past, and some questions marks now accompany his academic reputation. When the clouds have cleared, and this strange PDP/INEC assignment is over, he would have to grapple with this, and the fact that he shattered the hope of his people.

Indeed, this INEC Chairman would be remembered as the man who was given an opportunity to advance his nation’s progress but he chose to conspire with a tiny congregation of retrogressive and dishonourable characters to abort the prized dream of his nation. Most unfortunate, indeed.


The injustice Against Jimi Agbaje

Before last Saturday, I had told some friends that I had a very strong suspicion that Jimi Agbaje, the Gubernatorial Candidate of DPA (Please, I don’t know the full meaning of that) would pull a surprise in Lagos State.

Although it is always very difficult to trust a politician, it is also difficult to listen to Jimi Agbaje and not come away with the impression that he is such a focused, serious-minded gentleman, who spoke with such deep conviction that seemed to suggest he is sincere.

I have never met Mr. Agbaje. I only heard him on television like many people in Lagos, but I was surprised when several people I interacted with everywhere I went in Lagos firmly told me that he was the man they were waiting to cast their votes for.

Now, I do not know if ensuring that Jimi Agbaje’s photograph and that of some other candidates, including that gentle lady, Uche Ibukun Ohimai, whose campaign jingles on TV were always very touching, did not appear on the ballot papers was part of INEC/PDP agenda to capture Lagos by all means, in this election the party’s leader had already declared a do-or-die affair.

But, the truth, however, is that many people who may have wanted to vote for Jimi Agbaje last Saturday did not care to know the name or logo of his party. They were relying on INEC’s assurances that the photographs of candidates would be displayed alongside their party symbols.

Last Sunday, a woman complained to me bitterly how she went to cast her vote for Agbaje, but could not do so again, because, his picture was not there. And she did not know the man’s party, let alone its symbol. She sounded so disappointed and bitter that she was denied the opportunity to cast her vote for her favourite candidate.

Now this woman was not the only one that told me this same story. INEC’s lousy claim that the affected candidates did not submit their photographs have been challenged with proof by some of the candidates. Moreover, what stopped INEC from re-asking for the pictures, if they had misplaced them? What would it had cost them to make that demand if not a mere phone call away? Are they saying that they did not examine samples of the ballot papers before okaying them for mass-production?

That Jimi Agbaje eventually came Third in the polls despite this grave injustice and deliberate disadvantage visited upon him by INEC is a clear indication of what could have happened had the commission provided level-playing ground for all the candidates.

Now, I was not able to vote last Saturday. And I also believe that, like Jimi Agbaje, the man INEC eventually declared the winner (maybe because it had no choice), Mr. Babatunde Fashola, worked hard enough to deserve his victory. Indeed we should also not downplay the fact the he was the candidate of the ruling party in Lagos.

But what I am saying is that if a level-playing ground was provided and Agbaje was still defeated last Saturday, he would have gone home happy that he had put up a gallant fight, and that what he got was what he truly merited, despite the massive rigging that thrived in the charade INEC is calling elections.

So, what INEC did to Agbaje and the others in the so-called elections was bad and ugly and utterly condemnable. Indeed, never in the history of this nation has an electoral body advertised its partiality with such fanfare.

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1 comment

Anonymous April 22, 2007 - 2:36 pm

Mr Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, try to be fair. Are you saying that Anambra Election should be de-recognised but the election in Lagos State should stand despite the injustice to Jimi Agbaje and others? Should the candidate of the Ruling Party be declared just because INEC "had no choice" I looked in vain in your piece for a recommendation on the massive injustice to Hon Jimi Agbaje but all you did was critisize INEC like most critics do. No solution proposed. Well, the truth we must live with is that there was no election in Lagos State. The irregularities were so pervasive and the rigging brazen. The entire exercise in the State was a nullity! The election should be cancelled and a re-run arranged were a level playing ground will be created for ALL candidates. (AND PICTURES AND LOGO SHOWN ON THE BALLOT) That is the remedy needed for the injustice to Mr Agbaje (and others).

It simply does not make sense that INEC should clear every Tom Dick and Harry to contest election. For your information, INEC receives loads of Petition daily concerning candidates nominated for election. There was even a Presidential Candidate who had served a term of imprisonment in the U.S. but was fielded by a Political Party. Should INEC close its eyes to the citizens' Petition that exposed that candidate? Did that candidate also stand "in the way of Aso Rock"?

If Zik and Aminu Kano could be disqualified by the Electoral Commission in 1979 nobody can be too big if INEC has reason to. INEC is not a Rubber Stamp. Unpatriotic Nigerians with criminal antecedents hindered INEC by innundating it with vexatious and abusive litigations. Some sought injunctions a day to election just as was done in the 1993 Election that led to crisis. Rather than campaign, others chose to seek orders in court to stop or postpone the elections. Now that the elections are done there are those who seek to nullify it and scuttle DEMOCRACY just because they lost. Politicians introduced Violence NOT IWU. Politicians attacked INEC officials and Policemen in the course of their lawful duties. Politicians presented fake credentials. You are being unfair to Professor Iwu who left his plush job in America just like our lovely Okonjo-Iweala to lend a hand through this patriotic assignment. All blame cannot be laid on his door-step. He is not a Magician. If someone sits for an exam, he could score 10, 25, 90 or 100 per cent. The Professor would be wrong to say he did not sit for the exam just because he scored 10 per cent. Iwu did not score 100 per cent neither did he score 10. ALL STAKEHOLDERS deserve blame or praise NOT IWU alone. There are 36 States and IWU INEC has succeeded in about 30. That is what you, Mr Ejinkonye and your cohorts call failure.

As for the Presidential, Nigerians had to tolerate some democratic "nuisance" because some of the candidatures were just not viable.

The contest was clearly between General Muhammadu Buhari – a brutal ex- Military Dictator and the personable Governor Yar'ardua – a graduate of one of Nigeria's premier Universities. BOTH ARE FROM KATSINA STATE.

INEC could not stop anybody from contesting so there are many "candidates" but Nigeria's electoral will cannot be manifested outside the duo. INEC would have scored 100 per cent by declaring either. That would advance the nations progress and Iwu could not then be said to be a failure.


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