WEDNESDAY COLUMN BY USSIJU MEDANER
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The legislators in the course of last week decided the country isn’t ripe enough for an electronic transfer of election results. That was some bad news to the opposition; hell was let loose and threats of legal action against the legislators were thoroughly served. I had known all along there could be only one outcome to the clause the opposition was desperate to get inserted in the electoral bill: rejection. Realistically, it is obvious we are not set for such a leap; not after the broad day attempt by PDP to corrupt the presidential election result of 2019 with the Dubai-orchestrated-Kenya-produced parallel election result that was smuggled into a clone of the INEC server.
There would always be a gap between reality and ideality; like many others, I have my dream of an ideal Nigeria, a Nigeria where beyond electronic transmission, electorates can vote from the comfort of their homes unsupervised, without worry of infringements and manipulations. Unfortunately, that is an ideal dream, unrealistic in the present day corruption infested Nigeria, where career politicians wouldn’t stop at anything to corrupt the system, as already witnessed in 2019. The reality of our present voting system remains that we must maintain all possible control strings on all Election Day activities as much as physically and legally feasible. Otherwise, political jackals would take over the system, and expose the already delicate system to streams of unnecessary legal tussles arising from disagreement over transmitted results if the electronic transmission of results were to be adopted prematurely.
There are no ways the lawmakers would vote for that clause, except those among them who had concluded they can’t regain the presidential seat through the popular vote but only by pre-calculated cheating and sophisticated rigging through the manipulation of online results. It isn’t new, the Republicans in America are currently busy proposing legislation that disenfranchises voters because it is clear the only way they can defeat the Democrats in any presidential election in the country is if they successfully suppressed voters. No wonder, a great number of lawmakers of the opposition bloc cleverly made themselves absent because their consent would not allow them to create a lasting problem for the country in the name of exercising loyalty to their party.
In the days before the 2019 elections, it was the same cycle of the opposition cry for the passing of an electoral bill that would allow for electronic transfer of results. The hullabaloo created by that action, was the peak of the opposition recklessness in Nigeria.
Currently, it is practically impossible to guarantee infrastructural capacity that connects as much as fifty percent of Nigeria areas that would allow for available and stable network service needed for electronic transfer of election results; and we don’t presently possess the potential to build the same in the nearest future. The nation is not ready for that and we would not play into the hands of those who yet desired to exploit the nation with such ill-thought ideas of an electronic transfer of national election results in 2023. This much we all know as Nigerians, yet, our biases and sworn hatred for the person of the incumbent president and his party would make us support anything, even to our own detriment. It is the same people who mounted the best roadblock and opposition to SIM-NIN linkages because they have proof the country isn’t ripe for massive technological versus electronically growth explosion, that suddenly concluded that the nation is ‘suddenly’ ripe for electronic transmission of election results!
A statement credited to Kamala Harris, the vice President of America, says “paper ballots are the smartest, safest way to ensure your vote is secure against attacks by foreign actors. Russia can’t hack a piece of paper like they can a computer. We introduced the Secure Elections Act to ensure our elections are safeguarded. We must be ready.” In Nigeria, we are not safeguarding against foreign interference but locally planned interference that would make our votes insecure and lose integrity of our election system. The Kenyan-engaged hacker reportedly employed by Atiku and PDP in 2019 wouldn’t have a place in our system again until we are ripe to protect the sanctity of the system against such incursions.
The opposition and the ruling party alike should put their houses in order, present proposals that are sellable to the electorate in the forthcoming elections. The country has gone beyond the days when the ruling party wins it all not because they were voted for but because they took it all by force with the power of incumbency. While they were busy crying foul over an unnecessary clause that was rightly removed, they would not talk of the more important clauses that would reduce to the barest minimum, incidents of physical abuses of the electoral process via thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes, and result sheet infringements. The passed electoral law is a big plus for the country; it is now about time Nigerians votes count because some unapologetic career politicians would no longer infringe the people’s right to select their leaders.
In the same week, the power of corruption to fight back was once made manifest in our continent, and ruminating on this, it becomes more obvious why the fight against corruption in our country has remained a forever battle, and the counter-attacks from corruption more potent than imaginable. South Africa became enmeshed in destructive street attacks because proven corrupt citizens, regardless of position, were brought to justice, which turned the country into a massive destruction field, to protest the contempt conviction of the country’s immediate past president, Jacob Zuma; my fear for the continent and my country became heightened. How could we grow from the underdeveloped nation we are when we could not control the utilisation of our limited resources, prevent political jackals and selfishly corrupt individuals from illegally redistributing them for personal, selfish use?
It is in our country that we groan under the burden of scarcity and inability to survive in the midst of plenty and yet ferociously defend those who openly denied the youths, the children and the impoverished citizens of the country, their right to life and access to the wealth of their nation. It is here in Nigeria that we prefer the Tompolos, the Atikus, the Jonathans; it is here that we prefer the government that considered bribing the criminals to create an image of temporal and deceitful peace like it was done in the Niger Delta as the way out of national mess. In the words of Prof. P.L.O. Lumumba, “in Japan a corrupt person kills himself. In China, they will kill him. In Europe, they jail him. In Africa, he will present himself for election.” It has become so dangerous to fight corruption in our country, because it is the people who would respond in anger against every systematic attempt to end corruption.
Corruption fighting back in Nigeria; one day we will realize is behind the current insecurities; the bandits, the kidnapping, the created and disseminated fulanization and islamization of the country. We would one day realize the food insecurity of today and the inflation of today are handiwork of individual who are bent of bringing the onslaught against corruption to its knee in the country.
Eventually, though my personal opinion, the nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho, the Tompolo and the gangs in the creeks of the Niger Delta, are not freedom fighters, but are either opportunist who have recognize the best way to be relevant in Nigeria and stay relevant is by staging up revolts against the system, or are political sniffing dogs doing the bidding of their pay masters who are careless what magnitude of damages are inflicted on the country and its people on the way to their realizing their political ambitions.
Eventually, it is either we say no to political, financial and social corruption, or we watch the country collapse.