The just released report on the last presidential and NASS elections by the EU Observer Group, The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute is simply a damning case of deep-seated corruption that has eaten deep into, not just the electoral process, but also into the entire moral fabric of the society.
Cancerous and leprous corruption, especially within government circles and among those opportunistic few who control the levers of power and means of production and distribution of scarce national resources, has completely eroded our national ethos and cherished moral values. Corruption has elevated mediocrity, hypocrisy and bad governance to high heavens. The electoral process has not been spared of this ravaging malignant and ruinous national malaise. The electoral process has been horrifically bastardized, monetized, militarized and privatized by the rulers, elites and their prostituting collaborators and allies, both local and international. These opportunists see politics as a full time profession and a “do-or-die” and “winners-take-all” occupation. They have no other means of livelihood. The 2019 elections were probably the worst in the electoral history of Nigeria, witnessing more mayhem and causing more incalculable casualties than any election in Nigerian history. Aside the uncontrolled and uncontrollable activities of the Boko Haram insurgents, kidnappers and rampaging herdsmen and the genocidal killings recorded during the grisly three year Nigerian-Biafran civil war progrom, no event has recorded more mindless cold blooded killings in Nigeria, as did the last elections. The Nigerian “Situation Room”, leading local election observers and monitoring groups had since also passed the same damning and condemnatory verdict over the last presidential election that suffered acute lack of integrity, transparency, credibility, fairness, freedom of choice and acceptability. The incumbent government was so desperate to win at all costs because it knew it had no credible or viable record of performance to rely on. That was why it threw caution to the wind and militarized the entire elections to its own advantage. The government simply employed and deployed brute force and coercion. It was all so shameful, so undemocratic, so primitive and so antediluvian. Earlier gains recorded by the country on integrity of elections were readily eroded. The EU Observer Group, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute were therefore dead right in their careful assessment and damning report. But, for the fact that they are ordinarily compelled under international best practices to employ diplomatese and diplomacy of decency of language in their expression and communication, these international election observers would surely have used stronger disparaging and derisive terms, such as the elections amounting to “bare-faced brigandage”, “electoral robberies”, “stolen mandates”, “stone age politics”, etc. I am personally greatly embarrassed as a Nigerian citizen and patriot, on the bizarre conduct of the last elections.
TIME TO OVERHAUL THE SECURITY ARCHITECTURE OF NIGERIA
There was a recent shocking revelation concerning ISWA (a splinter group from Boko Haram, led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, son of Boko Haram’s founder, Muhammed Yusuf, whose 2009 killing by the Police had sparked off the Islamic insurgency). Reuters in a recent report noted that a map produced by a US Development Agency in February, 2019, shows that ISWA (Islamic State in West Africa), do infact occupy and control large swathes of Borno and Yobe states, demanding and receiving tax from indigenes. This is contrary to the repeated lies of the government since 2016, that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated”. No. It has not been defeated, whether technically, mechanically, psychologically, mentally, psychically, physically, spiritually, or militarily. The government is simply living a lie. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff only recently confirmed the obvious, when he accused some military personnel of non-commitment to the fight against insurgency. The nagging question is what are the military chiefs themselves still doing in office when they have expired in terms of fresh ideas, high-notch performance or effectiveness? Why has president Buhari retained them many years after their statutory retirement age, when they have evidently been afflicted by the law of diminishing returns? Surely, lies, like NAFDAC products, have expiry date. The chicken has finally come home to roost. It is common knowledge that many soldiers have since been deserting their beats, resigning, or escaping abroad. The entire security apparatchik and architecture of the country need total overhauling, starting from removing from office, all the military chiefs. Albert Einstein, the father of Nuclear Physics, was right when he said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” I concur.
NOW THIS GOVERNMENT’S ILL-FATED ATTEMPT TO GAG THE MEDIA
The news of a fresh clampdown on the Nigerian media through the shutting down of the AIT/Ray Power stations by the NBC came to Nigerians as a thunderbolt from the blues. It was extreme, unconscionable and brutish, to put it mildly. It was a replay of the dark days of military dictatorship. It showed the jerky reaction of a government that has become increasingly reactionary and intolerant of opposing views, dissenting opinions and plurality of voices. This government wrongly believes that every Nigerian must sleep facing the same side and from the same angle. That is never possible, nor even desirable in a constitutional democracy such as we operate, which admits of Dolly Parton’s “Coat of many Colours”. The NBC’s Code and Guidelines are mere regulatory rules of engagement with media houses, which are themselves subject to the overriding provisions of the 1999 Constitution under section 1 (1) and (3). Section 22 thereof provides that the press, radio television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in chapter 2 of the Constitution and to “uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”. Section 39 of the same Nigerian Constitution goes further to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and of the Press and the right of every person to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions. It is these basic fundamental and inalienable rights of Nigerians that the NBC through its ordinary Code and Guidelines seek to take away from the Nigerian people and from the DAAR Communications group that operates AIT/Ray Power, by shutting them down. That was tantamount to a panicky and outrageous measure, the type usually resorted to by Dictators, Fascists and Absolutists. Such is not acceptable in any democratic society such as ours. How did the NBC hope to pay and feed the thousands of employees (and their dependants), who would have been thrown into the marketplace of unemployment through its ill-advised action?
When the NBC started issuing a flurry of supposed warning letters, DAAR was not in doubt that a politically partisan NBC was simply being used by its proprietor, the federal government, and that it was merely working from the answer to the question.
The “shut-them-down” steps were carefully choreographed, to dress them with the fake garb of legitimacy and give their then imminent clampdown a veneer and semblance of legality and legitimacy, having made up its mind to shut down the stations. DAAR in reasonable fright, had immediately consulted my law chambers, and as a preemptive measure, I had immediately filed a suit against the NBC, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Information. In the suit, I prayed the Federal High Court in Abuja to grant certain declaratory and injunctive reliefs against the federal government, from closing down the DAAR stations. The government became very aware of this suit and the various court processes. Yet, it attempted stealing a match on DAAR, by shutting it down. This was to present the court with a situation of a fait accompli. It resorted to self-help, rather than to due process and Rule of Law. Thank God that reason has since prevailed, as both parties have taken steps to settle out of court. I have also personally encouraged this mediatory process. But, for a bold and courageous judiciary, DAAR would still be under lock and key today. All because the government views it as not doing its bidding like other obsequious and patronizing pro-government media houses that dot the landscape of Nigeria.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything”. (Joseph Stalin).
I thank Nigerians for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s treatise.
The post That Damning Report By The EU And Other International Election Observers On The Last Presidential Election By Ozekhome, SAN appeared first on TheNigerialawyer.