Home Opinion Winner or loser don’t lose sleep on behalf of any politician

Winner or loser don’t lose sleep on behalf of any politician

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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By Ahmed Yahaya – Joe

Barring any judicial proclamation to the contrary the 2023 presidential election has already been won and lost.

Going forward, what are the lessons?

The most important is that you don’t have to read Owen Jones’ book entitled The Establishment: How They Get Away With It (2014) to know that every nation has its ruling classes that rotate power among themselves while always claiming to serve the public. Nigeria like the United Kingdom which Mr. Jones focused upon is no different. Lest we forget the title of Harold Lasswell’s book Politics: Who Gets What, When, How (1936) largely serves as the standard definition of politics today.

Simply put, while Nigerians will always have their say the Nigerian establishment will always have its way.

I was not old enough to vote in the 11 August 1979 presidential election nonetheless I can still vividly recall the outcome as announced by the then electoral body FEDECO through Chief Michael Ani (1917-1985) with Alhaji Ahmadu Kurfi (now 92), Maradin Katsina deputizing. The chief returning officer that presented the collated figures from Nigeria’s then-19 states was Mr. F.L.O. Mentiki.

And as we can discern in the attached video political tempers rose very high in the aftermath.

 But balancing optics with perception against the background of history is very important as we can clearly see Alhaji Waziri Kolo Ibrahim (1926-1992) of GNPP complaining of, “super-rigging” with Dr. Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe (1904-1996) of NPP vehemently rejecting Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1925-2018) of NPN as president-elect.

But just 3 days after he (Azikiwe) entered into a political alliance with the same NPN describing his party as a “beautiful bride” that had “no animus” with the incoming Shagari administration. See details in the Daily Sketch newspaper edition of 24 August 1979.

So, UPN virtually went to court alone. A lot of legal arsenals were deployed at the Supreme Court in Lagos, not unlike the onslaught of legal brains currently poising for battle in Abuja.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) led the team for the plaintiff his good self while Chief Richard Akinjide (1930-2020) led the defense for then President-elect Shagari. It was a titanic battle of the first generation of SANs.

On 26 September 1979, CJN Fatai Atanda-Williams (1918-2002) delivered the lead judgement in favor of the defence with Justice Kayode Eso (1925-2012) dissenting. While Shagari was sworn into office on October 1 1960 by 1982 at an elaborate ceremony at State House, Marina the national award exclusively reserved for Nigerian leaders, Grand Commander of the Order of Federal Republic (GCFR) was bestowed on Chief Awolowo by his main political rival.

The more contentious August 24 1983 presidential was an electoral heist of immense proportion but curiously none of the losers headed for the courts again. They were the same personalities of 1979 but included NAP’s Tunji Braithwaite (1933-2916), a melodramatic  Lagos lawyer whose main campaign promise was to get rid of Nigeria’s, “rats and cockroaches”.

Perhaps by then those eminent candidates had better understood the workings of the Nigerian establishment. All however became history on 31 December 1983 but not before the chief electoral umpire, Justice Victor Ovie-Whisky (1923-2012) had a very difficult time convincing skeptical and obviously very infuriated Nigerians that he was not compromised to rig the election in favor of the ruling party. His reply remains instructive after 40 years and still counting, “We did not expect to be perfect. I assure you no dirty water passed under the bridge. If I see N1 million cash I will faint.”

Recall that in 1979, Chief Azikiwe’s NPP was rewarded with ministerial slots and other statutory appointments by the NPN including Deputy Senate and House speakerships in the National Assembly.

How can Nigerians guard against future electoral grand larceny?

The election cycle of 1979 took 5 orderly and well-organized weeks from July 7 to August 11. Yet back then there were just 19 states as earlier stated and our voting population was not what it is today. FEDECO as the forerunner of today’s INEC was known, separately organized different elections on a weekly basis to ensure no eligible Nigerian voter was disenfranchised due to any logistical mishap.

The total valid manually accredited vote cast in 1979 was 16,846,633. In 2023 with BVAS it was 24,025,940 yet over 87 million eligible voters had collected their PVCs.

Something somewhere doesn’t currently add up in electoral management in Nigeria.

 INEC should therefore be the one on public trial on its processes and procedures. Even procurements because the weakest link in the BVAS/IREV technology is the human factor that allegedly sabotaged it.

While it sometimes takes a thief to catch a thief, who is watching over the electoral watchers?

In conclusion, does the lack of timely uploading of election results electronically constitute enough non-compliance with the Electoral Act to warrant an entire cancellation of the February 25 polls?

It is perhaps not because;

“History is just the story of one elite replacing another. When the current elite start to decline, it is challenged and makes way for another.

Pareto puts forth two main types of elites: Foxes and Lions in the slow swing of the pendulum from one type of elite to the other, and back again.

In one of his other works, Pareto explained how one elite would replace the other. X, the old elite, would be challenged by Y, the new, in alliance with Z, the people. Y would win Z’s allegiance by making promises that it had no intention of keeping once in power.”

 – Rahul Desai in Foxes and Lions: Why Elites Always Win (2017)

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