[Nigerian Tribune] GOVERNOR Sule Lamido of Jigawa State said that the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the last general election, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), confessed that all political parties engaged in rigging elections.
Lamido said this on Sunday at the Emir of Dutse’s palace when he and the Katsina State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, paid a courtesy visit to the emir, Dr Nuhu Muhammad Sunusi.
Alhaji Sule Lamido was reacting to Buhari’s recent comment on free and fair elections, saying that it was Buhari who taught politicians how to rig elections
According to him, “when Major-General Buhari took over power from President Shehu Shagari in 1983, he categorically told the world that the coup was carried out because all the political parties engaged in the act of rigging and other forms of election malpractices.”
The governor maintained that “in his first speech, Major-General Buhari stated that not only the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) rigged, but all the parties rigged elections according to their strength at the constituency.
Lamido explained that Buhari’s speech was no more than teaching the politician how to use their influence and power to rig elections at any place they are opportune to do.
Accordig to Lamido, Buhari had no moral right to accuse anybody of rigging, because his party also rigged elections in the last general election at the area it was strong enough to do so.
However, Lamido maintained that no matter how deeply elections were rigged, the elected political leaders had people’s mandate and since 1999, they had been doing their best to meet the aspirations of their people.
FLASHBACK: APRIL 2011 ELECTION VIOLENCE
Yesterday, the elections for governors were not held in Kaduna and Bauchi, two states in the upper north of Nigeria considered to be major flashpoints of the violence that came on the heels of last week’s presidential election. The announcement of the result of the national poll result was followed by a paroxysm of bloodletting on a scale that some, including the president-elect, has compared to the situation in the 1960s that led first, to the exodus of Easterners particularly the Igbo, and then to the civil war.
Some Nigerian experts think we are once again at the cusp of a major national crisis and that the signs are in the electoral map of Nigeria, drawn from this election that seems to have highlighted the North-South divide of Nigerian politics. I should mention first that this electoral map is neither strange nor unexpected. It remains the accurate reflection of Nigeria’s true political demography and it is the surprise of it mostly that has confounded many CPC voters in the North.
Nigeria’s electoral map drawn from the voting pattern in the presidential elections last week point very clearly to the truth that the North Central region has become far more than ever the bellwether states in any tightly run elections in Nigeria.
Whoever wins the middle-belt wins the election in the country. This analysis is borne out of the fact that this buffer region contains perhaps, the quintessential character of multi-ethnic Nigeria, being diverse, both ethnically and religiously, and having affiliations to the north and south of that divide.
There is, not surprisingly, where the two rivers meet, and there, according to anthropologists, on the flood plains of the Benue might account for the early diffusion of the groups that came to make up the major ethnicities of what we now know as Nigeria. But, in the analysis by many a pundit prior and perhaps even after the elections, we still lump that entire region into what we call, “the north” – a holistic term for anybody or group or state that is situated anywhere above the Benue and farther up to the harsh Sahelian plains of Kaura-Namoda.
These terms follow a long colonial mind-frame that put the Occam razor on Nigeria’s geography and decreed a “north” and “south” with a seemingly permanent imprint on our minds. It is important to begin a redefinition of that north, for as Mr. Lamido Sanusi, the current Central Bank Governor, once pointed out, the idea of a coherent, homogenous “north” is the great fiction of Nigerian politics. The results of penultimate week’s presidential election bear out Mr. Sanusi.
This fact alone, the hybrid and diverse north, compels us, therefore, to re-examine some of the media images and narratives we are beginning to get about the political violence in the upper regions of the North, specifically in the states where Mr. Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the Congress for Progressive Change won hands down. Signs that the results of this election would not sit well with CPC began to emerge when in the middle of the voting penultimate week, just as the exit polls were coming out statewide, the National Chairman of the party, Prince Tony Momoh, issued a terse statement about voter-pattern reports.
Heavy turn-out, he said, in his statement, has been reported in the North, while states in the South-East were reporting “low voter- turn-out.” This report was in itself surprising knowing, from my personal studies and observations, the level of voter-enthusiasm in the South-East even as far back as January when I took my sample votes. But granted that things might change, and that voter-apathy might have happened to significantly affect voter-turn-out, but it also struck me that the get-out the votes effort for Goodluck Jonathan in the South-East and the South-South zones were near-total. It was not immediately clear what Mr. Momoh and the CPC National Committee was getting at until the results were announced.
CPC immediately issued a statement rejecting the results in the South-East and South-South areas, alleging ballot manipulation both by electronic and manual methods. The votes in the old East – that is the South-East and the South-South, they said, were inflated. They called for the cancellation of the results. Indeed, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Rotimi Fashaki, later released statements making a more comprehensive allegation in which he accused the electoral body of, for the lack of a better word, vacillation, in the conduct of the elections. Reading carefully into CPC’s releases what begs question is, why does the party not reject the results of the polls where it made as much as 83 per cent of the votes cast?
Why does the party not make a case for its loss of the North- Central region that gave the mandate to Jonathan? Why not even the South-Western states where it concentrated its failed alliance strategies? The point seems very clear that the South-Eastern and South-Southern areas which cast their votes overwhelmingly and unsurprisingly for Jonathan were CPC’s Achille’s heels.
The party had nothing on the ground in these areas; made little effort to appeal to voters, or recruit or even formulate an alliance with potential allies. It left the East ripe for the plucking for Jonathan, and the South-East and South-South voted on the grounds of its perceived connections with the candidate as much as Buhari’s supporters northward voted on the strength of their affiliation with the General. But, as the results became clear that Jonathan had won a plurality of the votes, a massive orgy of violence erupted in these areas where Buhari had enormous support. Innocent people once again were targets.
It is quite true that CPC had released statements noting that they abhorred the violence, and that it had nothing to do with ethnic or religious feelings given that victims were across board, they nevertheless came short of calling their supporters to stop the violence.
Among the victims of the targeted violence in the North are members of the National Youth Service Corps who acted as election workers and volunteers. In one report, a mob had locked some 50 youth corps members in a house and set it ablaze. In many instances, the targets were those perceived to be “outsiders” and, therefore, opponents of Buhari, and the irony was certainly lost to the mob, that those killed were indeed, those whom Buhari campaigned to serve as president. Among the faces of the fatality include three young men, Dr. Nchetachukwu; Obinna Okpokiri, a youth corps member, who had returned after education in England to do national service in Bauchi; another youth corps member, Ikechukwu Ukeoma, ran for his life into a police station but was later declared dead by the authorities.
In a poignant last text message he left to his friends last Sunday, Ukeoma wrote: “Na wao! This(sic) CPC supporters would hv killed me yesterday, no see threat oooo. Even after forcing under- aged voters on me, they wanted me to give them the remaining ballot paper to thumb-print. Thank God for the police and am happy i could stand for God and my nation.
To all corps members who stood despite these threats, especially in the North, bravo! Nigeria! Our change has come.” These deaths will haunt us. But while at it, the fever of electoral violence in Nigeria reflects a much deeper crisis: a disenchanted citizenry up at the upper north, up in arms, and like a trigger are primed to unleash the rain that might torpedo this country. This is the immediate and long-term danger, because let us face it, Nigeria is combustible. The President and the local authorities must act with firmness now to arrest this blaze of anger. The media must also be careful in characterising it. http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/04/post-election-violence-in-nigeria/
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- ACN Backs Bloody 2015, Sees nothing wrong in Buhari’s call for blood (transformationwatch.com)
- Youths awaiting Buhari heckle Jega’s convoy at Emir of Kazaure’s daughter wedding (transformationwatch.com)
- Jonathan plans to arrest me, says Buhari (transformationwatch.com)
- General Muhammadu Buhari: Between Reckless Rhetoric and a Sordid History (transformationwatch.com)
- You are blood thirsty, PDP tells Buhari (transformationwatch.com)