Opinion

Nigeria: Is Sen. Ngige desperate?

By Igboeli Arinze

The sham of an election (gubernatorial) that took place in Anambra on the 16th of November 2013, one that will forever live in infamy has surely come and gone. However, the consequences of such an election or such a heist may sooner than later erode the confidence of the public not only in our electoral institutions but also in the types of governments and the persons produced via such elections.

A close look at several nations and societies which have been riven with unmitigated violence and a collapse of institutions as well as the exit of reason can always be traced mainly to the failure of our electoral institutions to deliver a free and fair election. Nations like Somalia, Cote D’voire and presently the Central African Republic are clear examples of how a litany of electoral misdeeds can much lead to unprecedented chaos in our society with enough costs to humanity. Even in Nigeria, we are not without grave examples in the costs of failed elections to our national psyche. We will remember that the Wetie crisis was as a result of Akintola’s ‘finest hour’, when the Western Regions elections were brazenly rigged in favour of Akintola’s Nigeria’s National Democratic Party NNDP. Events took on the domino effect from that period into the January 15 coup, the counter coup and subsequently the Nigerian Biafran war. Again, the Shagari/NPN landslide in 1983, gave Generals Buhari, Idiagbon and Babaginda enough reason to suspend our democratic advancement for a period of 16 years.

But, except we do otherwise, we may not stem the crisis that Nigeria seems to be heading for, the 2015 elections are around the corner and the stakes seem to be a little bit bigger as two zones seem to be pitched against each other concerning whose turn it is to govern Nigeria. That is if we could not get a simple election right in Anambra, how possible is it for a fumbling Attahiru Jega(honestly that man has lost it) to conduct a free and fair election in a nation as big as Nigeria? Ominous signs linger and one shudders to what might be should all hell be let loose.

Thankfully, the electoral process allows for the judiciary to play a part in determining winners and losers of any election held in Nigerias as Maurice Iwu’s INEC once shamelessly remarked following the poor job he supervised in 2007.

Several sections of the Electoral Act specify the process by which an aggrieved candidate may seek redress to wrongs meted out in the course of an election in the courts. This process seeks to justify the saying that the judiciary is the hope of the common man, injustice may rear its ugly head but as long as the courts exist, each man may draw forth to get a fair dealing.

The slapdash manner by which the Anambra election was conducted raised more fears than hope that finally Nigeria would get it right with her conduct of elections.

Thus following the daylight robbery masterminded by top Federal Government officials, Anambra State Government, the top echelon of APGA, the Nigerian Army and Police, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige a front runner for the seat, and the main reason the vote robbers stole with ignominy declined all forms of appeasement including offers of an automatic entry into both APGA and the PDP , refund of his campaign expenses and a cleared path for him to return to his senate seat shunning all the pleas and the cajoling to pursue justice at the tribunal. To put it mildly, he was even warned about the consequences that could befall him and his family but to this man who had wrestled with greater demons and conquered, these weaklings were no match for him.

This minority of crocodiles called Ngige desperate, many prattled about Ngige not been a sportsman! Pray how can one be a sports man when the set of laws governing a game weren’t adhered to? To accept the results that placed Obianio at the government house Awka, would not be sportsmanship but diffidence and great leaders have never been timid.

Thus to the temple of Justice, Ngige did seek justice, his lawyers working round the clock to dig up ample evidence to show that an usurper was declared winner and this they did. The voters register was found wanting, it was so mutilated, manipulated and matted to be a voter’s register, I can surely wager that past election riggers would have been awed that they would clear the riggers hall of fame for these new kids on the block, Jega inclusive!

But it did not end there, the acclaimed usurper was alleged to have registered three times, with three different Voter Identification Numbers, these in all made the case a good sell.

But the tribunal which gave its ruling recently left many astonished at how it stood logic and all other legal precedents on its head. We are not quick to forget that prior to the judgement the tribunal had surprisingly cannibalized several types of evidence brought forth by the petitioner. Giving one whimsical reason after the other, the tribunal’s actions confirmed to many that the whole period was a mere show of puppetry to the extent that the Appeal Court in Enugu had to rule contrary to what the tribunal had earlier ruled.

Thus when the tribunal finally gave its ruling on the 4th of June 2014, it will be right to say that the tribunal dashed the hopes of the common man in Anambra. One commentator said that the tribunal was too clever for itself that it raised more eyebrows via its judgement than the case itself. Thankfully, it is not the final arbiter and the option of going to the Appeal Court has been taken by Senator Ngige.

With this development, the boo boys have taken to the frontlines with calls which they claim to be patriotic, calling on Ngige to drop his case and ‘allow Obiano to work’ that is if they think that sensible people deem the infantile populism and the unconstitutional demolition of homes alleged to be the den of kidnappers as work, they should think again.

One then would ask, why should Ngige drop his case, simply because the Electoral Petitions Tribunal dismissed his case? The constitution allows for electoral petitions to be heard up to the Supreme Court level, since in the wisdom of those who fashioned the constitution, the tribunal might not have given a case its much needed appraisal and thus it may require the seniors on the bench to do justice to such cases. This delivers petitioners from the scourge of a judicial tyranny. These boo boys are quick to forget that had the tribunal or Appeal Courts been the sole arbiter of electoral cases then the likes of Aregbeshola, Kayode Fayemi, Peter Obi vs Andy Uba and Rotimi Amaechi would perhaps have been effigies of our blighted political history.

Or, had the aforementioned dumped their cases at the minimal level, just because a collegiate of AGIPS are chanting such with unmatched delirium like the prophets of Baal? I am forced to wonder whether the transformations in these states would have been possible.

These persons forget that the pursuit of justice has never been about one person, or one’s ego. To Ngige it will surely not be about just wanting to return to government house as governor, it is about principles, about the rule of law, about the masses and about sustaining our democracy, to sum it all it is about the hope of the common man for if vote buying, thuggery, chicaneries which we experienced in Anambra become the order of the day, then who is to say that the children of the nwaokpulu and the ogbenye (poor people) might be allowed to serve their people.

Perhaps these boo boys are afraid that the Appeal and Supreme Courts might dispense justice and wary at what would happen to their rent seeking enterprise, the source of livelihood so they would rather choose to harangue those they see as threats to their enterprise, little wonder their soundless calls.

What Senator Ngige is pursuing represents a critical juncture in the life of our democracy, for if the powers that be think that because they control all machineries of government then they can impose their lackeys upon us, then whither our democracy, because tomorrow even a champion of the masses will experience the hopelessness of whatever audacity he has with him.

May it also dawn on my reader that these same boo boys formed the praetorian guard of Peter Obi’s rise to ‘power via the courts, talk of Wallace Stevens mention of actors and their trunks been entirely different. For them, there is a standard and for others another.

To accuse Senator Ngige of desperation is to tug wrongly at history’s chain and though we know that the road might be long and tortuous, true democrats like us can only urge him on. Is Senator Ngige desperate? The clear answer is no!

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