I have witnessed many elections since 1979 and I can say without any equivocation that the 2023 election was the best, the most free and fair, the most transparent. Those who are pillorying the election and INEC, the electoral umpire are simply saying so because the outcome of the election, especially the presidential election did not match their expectation.
May God forgive them, especially the men in cassocks, who in their hallucination, had prophesied victory for their favourite candidate, claiming it was a message from God. It must be clear to Nigerians that those clerics were not in any conclave with the Almighty God. Their prediction was their personal desires, which went unfulfilled by God. God surely has other plans for our country and instead chose a man, who has the best leadership pedigree and espouses the best vision to pilot our affairs from 29 May. Man indeed proposes, God disposes.
Our clergymen, not satisfied with the divine and INEC verdict have been all out disparaging the election. The latest of them was Cardinal John Onaiyekan of the Catholic Church. News reports said the Octogenarian claimed that the election was rigged. He accused some unidentified people of masterminding the rigging and claimed that God knows those riggers. To Onaiyekan, the alleged machination of ‘those riggers’ made impossible the manifestation of the ‘people’s will’ in the outcome announced by INEC.
This lie, nay a malicious propaganda, has been told repeatedly by the opposition parties and their supporters since 1 March when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was declared as President-elect. The lie has been sold abroad to people who do not have a first-hand information on how INEC conducted the poll. The lie is simply vicious. It must stop. It is a lie for which the purveyors, no matter their status, ought to earn the wrath of God on earth and in heaven. It is not true.
Without holding brief for INEC, which has filed its defence at the Tribunal, which begins sitting on 8 May, I repeat again that the 2023 election was the best since the return to democracy in 1999. It was miles ahead of the heavily compromised 2007 election conducted by President Olusegun Obasanjo, wherein the beneficiary of the electoral heist, Umaru Yar’Adua apologised for the embarrassment. Yar’Adua atoned for Obasanjo’s sin by setting up the Justice Uwais Commission to sanitise our election process. Since then, our elections have gotten better, election cycle after election cycle.
The introduction of BVAS made a significant difference and made the 2023 election, the most technologically driven poll ever conducted in our country. And the best. BVAS made it impossible for parties to record outlandish numbers in their strongholds. It ensured that only the accredited voters voted. INEC deserves praise not ridicule.
All the critics of INEC, on account of the non-transmission of the results recorded at the 176,000 polling units are purely doing so for mischief. The criticism is most misplaced as the so-called result transmission was additional to what happened at the polling unit. It is superfluous. In the presidential and National Assembly elections, all polling units tallied votes cast and each party polling agent was given a copy of Form EC8.
Collation of polling unit results was done at the ward level and from there to the council level and then the state level. Political parties usually know how they fared in the election by the time votes are tallied at ward or council level.
Parties do not need to wait for INEC upload of polling unit results on its portal to know the entire result of the election. They do not also need to wait for the results announced at the Abuja Collation Centre. In 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan conceded to President Muhammad Buhari before INEC’s announcement, because he and his agents had the figures from all the states. He conceded because he knew the election was already lost to Buhari.
In a development that is extremely strange to our politics, the Labour Party and the PDP initially sponsored calls for an interim government. When that did not get traction, they mounted vicious attacks on INEC for not uploading the results on time, using this lapse to vilify an election that was the best in our country. It’s like condemning your bank for not printing a receipt for a credit payment, when the money is already sitting pretty in your account and you have received the alert.
The Labour Party and the PDP and their surrogates, some of them lawyers, clerics and some ethnic groups have also mounted desperate campaign for the postponement of the inauguration of the President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 29 May. S
ome other groups, including the leading labour and partisan unions, the NLC and TUC, in league with some equally partisan civil society organisations are blackmailing the judges that will handle the petitions against Tinubu’e election. We have never had such post-poll desperation, except this time that we have a Peter Obi on the ballot and an Atiku that is cocksure he has lost his last chance to gun for the nation’s No. 1 seat.
Since 1999, every election held has always been disputed by losers. The winners are allowed to be sworn in, while litigation goes on. This was the case in all elections. This is also the trend in the states.
This has been the convention. It was the convention when Labour Party Vice presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed became a senator, representing Kaduna North in 2011 under the platform of Congress for Progressive Change. His challenger went to court. Baba-Ahmed’s victory was upturned, after some months, when he had been sworn in as senator.
We cannot change the convention now because some people believe that the men who came second and third in the poll, are pursuing cases in court. They should exercise patience for the judiciary to decide whether they have any strong case to invalidate Tinubu’s victory.
The judiciary has always supported litigants when they have ‘substantial’ proof that they were rigged out of an election. As the tribunal begins sitting today, let Labour and its senior partner, the PDP stop further blackmail of the judiciary. Enough is Enough.