The campaign trail of the 2019 election took off with much gusto, as the two major candidates put their strongest foot forward,while other candidates made the necessary cameos. The dark media had many things up its sleeves, with the ‘Jubril of Sudan’ rumour still rife as at then. Mr President, in a bid to turn off the rumour, poured more fuel, by stating that he was not an impostor. Why would an impostor agree to being an impostor?
This was the sentiment of international media, as the President, who had by then visited more foreign countries than Nigerian States, was forced to tour all 36 States, meeting joyous Buharists, angry Nigerians and ‘slippers throwing thugs.’ Everyone was looking forward to the election, hoping that it would reinstate the powers of the Nigerian as the ‘Chief Decider of His/Her Destiny’.
Fast forward after the election and a certain knowledge filtered into the public space, “Nigerians think they can wake up and remove their President through the ballot, no, an African President only leaves the stage if he wishes to.” Goodluck Ebele Jonathan immediately comes to mind. In as much as that is a pointer to the leadership dirt and dearth in Africa, it also showed the extent of irregularities, voter suppression, military interference, electoral heist and outright rigging characterizing the 2019 Presidential election. The deed is done, but is the deed done? EU says ‘not today’.
The much-awaited EU report surfaced over the weekend, with a definite statement that the election lacked transparency while pointing out INEC, EFCC and the military all in the report. Why would the EU go all the way for Nigeria, “uninvited”? As the case may be, Nigeria is the EU’s business since INEC on behalf of Nigeria, invited the EU to be a part of the observer team during the 2019 election. This shuts down the argument that the EU should ‘mind their business’.
The EU on Saturday as they presented their report stated, “the election became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation, with the role of the security agencies becoming more contentious as the process progressed.” As a reminder, the 2019 election, on both Governorship and Presidential level saw significant military intervention with videos surfacing of the military carting away or aiding the hijacking of ballot boxes, some of which led to the death of some 58 people, with the majority in Rivers State, an opposition stronghold.
A few miles from Rivers State is the metropolitan city of Lagos, whose election saw a significant level of intimidation from thugs allegedly aided by security agencies. Same was recorded in Akwa-Ibom State, which is a traditional PDP stronghold, with military checkpoints surfacing every few meters all over the South East, during the day of the election, eyewitnesses say. The morning of the election had a video showing the Military post in an undisclosed part of Southern Kaduna, denying free movement to voters who needed to get to their polling unit. This comes against the Army’s media directive that if a person shows evidence that he or she is a voter, that the military should allow him/her access the polling unit. These ultimately led to the victory of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari at the polls with 56% of the votes cast, against Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President, with 41% of the votes cast.
The Presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who has resorted to democratic channels in recovering his mandate has stated, however, that unlike the purported military intimidation and cohesion meted out on his supporters, he will follow due process. That was perhaps why he was quick enough to shut down a Twitter troll account that credited him to a chaotic speech of leading a protest that will shake Nigeria. While the case is still in the tribunal and while Atiku’s counsel defends their five-count charge, including the result of an INEC server which the opposition candidate claims gave him the victory, President Buhari’s purportedly ill-acquired WAEC certificate and an accusation of widespread rigging, Nigerians still die in their droves in the hands of insurgents and bandits. Is that all. No. The economy is still plummeting, with the country losing 43% of its FDI and yes, Nigeria is still the headquarter of poverty.
With the judicial heist which saw the early retirement of former Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, plenty Nigerians worry if the judiciary will feed the cup of justice to the nation. Apart from the judiciary, plenty Nigerians have admonished the military to face their war against Bokoharam and herdsmen, while allowing the Nigerian Police do their work of civil and public safety, but the military is yet to release a statement on that.
For now, Nigerians need a third party voice when it comes to the 2019 election because it is believed that every other voice may be biased, including the legislature. The EU fits perfectly into this shoe, and they have hence come out to state that the election was not transparent and most occurrences were to the favour of the incumbent. Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, the INEC Chairman and the rest of his team, should be worried as the 2019 Presidential Election Tribunal unravel.