One read with bewilderment, even a sense of dark foreboding, the statement by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday calling for the cancellation“of all elections that do not pass the credibility and transparency test” during the Saturday (February 25) presidential elections.
We have always known Chief Obasanjo to harbour anti-democratic proclivities. But never did one anticipate this effrontery, this in-your-face audacity by the General and his co-travellers to seek to re-enact the perfidious circus that eventuated in the June 12 annulment of 1993, thereby plunging the country into needless catastrophe yet again.
There is clearly no basis — whether legal or moral — to cancel an election which, on the whole, has been adjudged by the Commonwealth Observer Group as a significant improvement on all previous elections.
Nothing perhaps readily exemplifies this than the outcome of the presidential election in Lagos where the ruling party, APC, lost to Labour Party the home base of its candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the first in the last 24 years!
Of course, the “feat” has since been celebrated with wild jubilation in social media as proof of “transparency and credibility” of the Saturday elections. But the song of celebration echoed by Obasanjo and his cohorts seems to change only where APC won! Note, on the same day that Labour won Lagos, opposition PDP also won the following key states namely Katsina (home of President Muhammadu Buhari); Plateau (home of DG of APC Campaign, Governor Solomon Lalong who also lost his senatorial election); Nasarawa (home of APC National Chairman, Senator Adamu); Kaduna (home of Governor El Rufai, Special Adviser to APC Campaign) and Kano (home of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, another Special Adviser to the APC Campaign whose son also lost House of Reps bid).
So, considering this overwhelming backdrop, what else could still be driving the cry of “massive rigging” and call for outright cancellation of results if not perfidy and pure treason? Just how possible is it to nurture democracy without democrats?
For instance, results authenticated by INEC show that Obasanjo, the promoter-in-chief of the Labour Party candidate, could not deliver his polling unit in Abeokuta, Ogun State to his anointed as he only secured 9 votes to the 56 votes scored by the APC candidate. Part of the issue with Chief Obasanjo is indeed the lack of shame and comportment expected of his stature as former president. Otherwise, having openly expressed partisan interest in Peter Obi and proceeded to campaign vigorously for him and then getting beaten soundly in his own very polling unit in Abeokuta, he should know he had ipso facto forfeited the privilege to invoke the spirit of statesmanship to speak in the lofty terms he now aspires.
To be sure, one aligns oneself with competent opinion already offered by legal authorities that the INEC is in order thus far vis-a-vis the announcement of results, consistent with the extant provisions of the Electoral Act. In any case, the provisions of the law clearly avail anyone with contrary view to take advantage of the Election Petition Tribunal.
Inviting the cancellation of the results like Chief Obasanjo did is, therefore, akin to seeking to abort a pregnancy when the midwives already delivered the baby. A laughable exercise in futility indeed.
With this, Chief Obasanjo appears to finally confirm wild speculations that started gaining traction in the last several weeks of a subterranean resolve by some anti-democratic forces to short-circuit the 2023 electoral exercise and foist another Interim National Government on Nigeria by any means possible.
They are the amorphous group of self-interested, self-styled “owners of Nigeria” who arrogate to themselves the prerogative to forever dictate the outcome of every electoral exercise in Nigeria, in utter contempt of the democratic yearning and aspirations of the rest of the populace.
The owl’s flight in daylight is ominous indeed. How ironic that Obasanjo, who had absented himself from the Council of State meeting held two weeks ago at the Presidential Villa, out of spite, is suddenly adopting a solicitous language in an open letter to the same President Buhari.
Symbolically, what Chief Obasanjo is offering President Buhari in the unsolicited epistle is a poisoned chalice indeed. With the Saturday polls already receiving plaudits from all and sundry as “one with little or no monetary inducement of voters”, Chief Obasanjo must be stung to the marrow by bitter jealousy.
Out of mortal envy, he would not want President Buhari to go down in history as organising polls better than his, thereby potentially displacing him as the new authentic “moral voice” of the African continent after iconic Nelson Mandela. For the better part of President Buhari’s two terms, Obasanjo did all within his power to undermine the latter.
At international fora, he never let any opportunity pass without attempting to discredit the incumbent president who ironically is widely adjudged to have recorded more tangible achievements in office with lesser resources compared to the preceding 16 years of PDP profligacy of which Obasanjo had the distinction of squandering billions of dollars with nothing to show.
A classic example was the $16b splurged on phantom power projects that only generated more darkness for Nigerians by 2007 when Obasanjo’s tenure ended. Now that he has a sinister agenda, the Ota famous letter-writer is suddenly shouting “hosanna!” to the same President Buhari, in a shameless emotional blackmail.
Throughout his eight-year imperial reign, the name, Obasanjo, was of course a by-word for bare-faced electoral robbery and willful subversion of due process. Nigerians will indeed never forget how Obasanjo’s enforcer and INEC chair, Professor Maurice Iwu, had, for instance, appeared in Abuja in 2007 to declare PDP winner of Katsina elections while voting was still ongoing!
So indefensible was the process that eventually ushered in President Umar Yar’Adua that he was forthright enough to openly admit Obasanjo’s “electoral atrocities”, and thereafter sought atonement by instituting electoral reforms contained in the Justice Uwais Report.
Against this backcloth, it might not be out of place to now ask lovers of democracy in Nigerian to stay vigilant at this critical moment against the antics of Obasanjo and other so-called “owners of Nigeria” intent on derailing democracy with a view to sustaining their chokehold on the neck of the Nigerian nation.