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NIGERIANS NOT READY FOR FREE POLLS

By NBF News
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Jonathan also won the 2007 governorship primaries in Bayelsa State's PDP and must have hoped to win that election in his state. He must have been expected to deliver the state also to the party had he not been picked by Aso Rock to run with late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. At last, he won on the ticket in an election that has been described as flawed by President Yar'Adua and denigrated around the world as the most flawed in any democracy. It means no one easily spits out sugar put on his tongue.

Jonathan also told the world at a CNN interview when he went to see Barack Obama in Washington that he was yet to make up his mind on whether to run or not. He even hinted about running as a vice then. Of course that is no longer elegant today. By this, the signal is that should he contest, he is sure to swim against a huge tide of northern pessimism and opposition, and he is still sure he would win. In such a scenario, who says he would need an Iwu or his like at such a moment?

Another factor is that Iwu is a man with a lot of evidence. If a wolf carts away your baby, would you be in a hurry to shoot at sight? You would need a lot of care to separate the wolf and baby before emptying bullets at the beast. The PDP has done a lot of things with Iwu over the years and Iwu has somehow become like a man with all the secrets. Therefore Jonathan is doing it right the way he is carefully getting Iwu out of the way.

On the other hand, Iwu represents the face of everything that is bad in our electoral system. He may be brilliant, hardworking, but he has no innocence in him. A man with a fractured image can hardly be the one to repair Nigeria's electoral credibility, even if he is not as black as he is painted. The world has said so, and the US has echoed it. In other climes, he would have resigned to show he is angry at such a bad name being hauled at him.

The trouble is that making him an ambassador may not be the best form of compensation or rehabilitation. One wonders if any credible nation wanting free and fair election would want him around when they go to the polls. He may however be welcome to some banana republics in Africa where one man rules till death. Iwu may not care about such posting. He seems ready to collect his compensation whenever he delivered. In Imo State, it is alleged he demanded and got 'half of the yellow sun' for helping the Imo PDP to stop Ararume and Agboso to play Ohakim in. See how he lost his innocence and his alibi?

Truth is that Nigeria is not ripe for free polls. Beyond Iwu's exit, we now know that the journey to a free and fair election is still far. The governors and what they can do with the free money they have been freely stealing and enormous powers they wield has been easily glossed over. That is why those shouting the loudest against Iwu are opposition leaders and governors who know what it is to have INEC against you. Most governors (even some in other political parties) offer to deliver their states during elections.

There would have been nothing wrong in this, if it only involved campaigns, mobilizing and urging the voters to a mass turn out. The governors negotiate many things delivering their states. They want to nominate any federal appointee, get the ear of the president, and beat the EFCC, etc. They also want to undo their opponents at home and get away with it. What they do and can do to achieve this is far more than any harm Iwu can inflict on Nigeria in his lifetime.

The governors manipulate to get the kind of Commissioner of Police (CP) they wanted. They use the police command to do all sorts of things. The police escort the ballot boxes, guard the sensitive warehouses, quell the rioters (if any) and give security reports the presidency will act upon. The governors also compel or induce the INEC national chairman to employ certain persons who turn round to be resident commissioners, returning officers, etc. When time comes, they stuff the place with temporary INEC staff that would conduct the elections. By this, from top to bottom in any state would be allies and cronies of a governor. Iwu or no Iwu, the result is obvious.

The local council elections are not handled by INEC or Iwu, but the elections have been a sham in states where they are held at all. In states that do not have any machinery to rig LGA bosses into office such as Anambra, Imo, Edo, etc, they have done the worse, using illegitimate persons such as sole administrators to control the council areas for as long as they wanted. These are the same persons clamouring for free and fair elections and shouting against Iwu. Even in Lagos that is seen as a bastion of genuine democracy in Nigeria for now, the battle between Tinubu and Fashola would hardly allow for any genuine LGA elections.

Governors want to control the LGAs far more desperately than the FG wants to control the states. There has been no case of illegitimate deductions from state's allocations but most governors have cases at the EFCC on account of tampering with LG allocations. The governors also impose their thugs as LG bosses and use them to rig elections in the councils, intimidate opponents, make hell for rural dwellers, run out opposing voices, and divert allocations. For this, the race to control LGA areas and rig elections is fierce. Yet, Iwu and INEC are not part of this. We would have shamed Iwu if elections in the LGAs were a wonder to behold.

Again, the political parties where democracy is groomed and nurtured are not anywhere near democracy. They witness the worst form of rape, hijacking , imposition, autocracy, wickedness, intolerance, and marginalization etc. Yet Iwu and INEC are not part of this. How can people groomed in internal disaster turn out to be good copies for democracy? Most of those who leave PDP on excuse of marginalization and imposition of candidates go to minor parties to impose themselves on the old members just because they came with some funds.

We know that most of the cases of substitution of names, wrong names, false nominations, etc, that have lingered in courts to this day were mere party issues, not INEC and Iwu. Many do not know how removing Iwu would wipe off all this junk. Finally, it has been now and often that two factors make good elections impossible except something drastic is done: excessive greed and absence of the deterrence factor. There is a huge disregard for the right of the next person in this country now. Even in our private lives, deals and agreements are hardly honoured anymore, promise of marriage is hardly sustained, equitable sharing of money in any deal is hardly delivered and those who ask uncles to keep money for them hardly get it back, etc. This general dishonesty is affecting how we participate in elections.

When those preparing for elections stockpile guns, money, blackmail weapons, etc instead of goodwill, love for the constituents, good principles would we say it is Iwu? The reign of violence,cheating and maiming in elections is the reason why people flee on election days instead of seeing it as a day of liberation. Some settlers simply hide, not wanting to get injured for what is happening in another man's land. They watch as youths destroy the homes of opponents in a bid to incapacitate them.

The other factor is the absence of the deterrence element. People perpetuate evil at all times and at elections and live to boast about it. If electoral offenders were to face criminal charges, and there is quick justice in which the man we saw with guns is crying soon after on his way to jail, others would be scared. If the man with guns soon begins to ride in jeep and affluence, no amount of Iwu's removal would stop others from joining in election rigging.

These are the areas opposition leaders are silent about while clamouring for Iwu's removal. Who appoints INEC boss, etc as if these were ends in themselves. They merely play into the hands of the monster by these demands because now that Iwu has been removed, international observers would expect the opposition to be free to win elections, and this is erroneous. Opposition leaders are busy decamping to the so-called monster's party. This habit is worse than Iwu's sins. The tendency of men in opposition to insult the PDP today and join it tomorrow has confused the electorate and made them vulnerable. This is a greater evil.

Those who hated the PDP and supported a man have been defrauded by the return of the opposition men to the same party they asked the masses to hate. Local persons who got injured for following the leader have been exposed to local danger and ridicule because the leader has sorted himself out and jumped ship. This is a greater evil worse than Iwu's.

In all of these, we know that Nigerians are not ready to stand for and defend free and fair elections and so those expecting magic after Iwu are in for a shocker. We do not know where the President would start but he has a great task, and the target should be beyond Iwu's removal. Now the real challenge begins.