By Bright Ogundare
Critical to every democracy is credible elections, it can’t be gainsaid that elections are what makes democracy. Nigeria since independence has had her own fair share of ugly elections marred with fraud and abject subversion of people’s will culminating in the 2007 where president Umaru Musa Yar’adua publicly acknowledged that the election which brought him in was rigged. However, it was the hope of many that the electoral process will get better as we spend more time as a democracy.
The 2011 and 2015 elections were encouraging signs that Nigerians are about to reach that point where every 4 years they can always express their will. This was further amplified as the then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP lost the 2015 election to President Buhari, a feat which was hitherto believed to be impossible. It was then believed that no politician was above demystification as we are now in an era of dictatorship of the masses but Alas!!! how fast have those lofty dreams faded away?
The Buhari presidency has so much consolidated it’s hold on power that it is safe to say it has constituted a powerful oligarchy (a government in which a small group exercises control for selfish and corrupt purposes) . The government stuffed with family relations, ethnic loyalists and all sort of jingoists have failed to deliver their campaign promises yet their resolve to hold on to power is stronger than ever. This has obviously left them with no other option but to drag back our fledgling electoral process into the dark ages.
Starting with the resolve not to back electoral reforms, the Nigerian electoral process has been turned into a laboratory where all forms of electoral stunts are invented to keep the ruling party in power. From the maradonic “inconclusive elections” to heavy militarization and outright rigging using thugs in solidarity with the tactical support of the military to vote buying and releasing billions for states controlled by the ruling party few days to an election; no stone is left unturned in the bid to entrench the ruling party. Even the tribunal is not left out as people now win election petition on outright technicality.
The Kogi and Bayelsa states elections held on November 16 was another historic low in our electoral process, in a meeting meant to sign a peace accord the governorship candidate of the SDP in Kogi state was attacked while the INEC chair and inspector General of police looked on sheepishly. The election day itself was marred with so much violence that you might confuse polling units for world war 2 battle fields (due to the sporadic gunshots and bodies of dead and wounded victims) as both police men, military and political thugs were in a tactical coalition to subvert people’s will.
It’s so embarrassing that while in sane societies, people vote and go back to their work stations going about their daily activities, in Nigeria people are even afraid to step out of their homes on election. The Nigerian political system has clearly degenerated.
It takes no soothsayer to reveal that Nigeria is in grave danger, on a descent to Hades. A castrated and primary school student styled rubber stamp legislature, a paper tiger judiciary whose orders are being flouted by the government and her agencies, a comic election process where the will of the powers that be supersedes the will of the people are all pointers that Nigerians have officially been denied a stake in Nigeria, rather we are at the mercy of a power oligarchy determined to keep Nigeria in the dark ages.
No matter the results of the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa, one thing is clear, we are the mercy of a draconian oligarchy on a mission to destroy every avenue for accountability and farcicialise elections in a bid to legitimize their hold on power.
Bright Ogundare is a social commentator, he can be contacted via email@example.com