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Sour Grapes or Righteous Indignation? (A Nation in Ruins)

By Dr Anthony Chuka Konwea, PE
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Nigeria’s 2019 Presidential Elections have come and gone, but the dust kicked up still lingers on. There are two competing narratives about what happened on February 23, 2019.

According to the misnamed Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is everything but independent together with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), sitting President Muhammadu Buhari won the election handily. According to the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) however, its candidate Atiku Abubakar won the elections but was robbed by the greatest electoral heist ever witnessed on earth.

We are now in a classic case of he said, she said with the notable exception that the he in this case, the APC constitutes both the judge and the jury. However, that does not necessarily mean that the she is right. Many cases abound in human history of the weak weaponizing their weakness to demonize the strong and pull them down.

Let us briefly unpack the circumstances leading to February 23, 2019. Right from day one as president, Muhammadu Buhari has been preparing for reelection. He left no stone unturned in his bid to rearrange the electoral space in his favor. He personally hand-picked and constituted the current INEC. This lies within his powers according to the Nigerian Constitution. The only exception is that in a multi-ethnic country, unlike his predecessors, he took the unusual step of naming an INEC boss from his own Fulani ethnicity.

President Buhari has subverted all the critical institutions of the State and transformed them into pliable instruments for shoring up his administration and weakening the opposition. He has reduced the Nigerian Police into enforcers of his political wishes and not of the Law.This is incontrovertible. He has used the Nigerian Army to terrorize vast segments of the Nigerian population including chiefly Nigeria’s Shiites and the restless Igbo and South-South ethnicities. This again is incontrovertible.

He has used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to attack the leading lights of the opposing PDP many of who it must be conceded did terrible things to the Nigerian economy in the past, while leaving APC members who are no less guilty largely unscathed. Many former PDP members with skeletons in their cupboards sought sanctuary from prosecution and persecution by defecting to the APC thereby shoring up Buhari’s personal political base and bringing their far-flung states into political contention.

This is incontrovertible and proves as we have been saying all along that Buhari’s alleged fight against corruption was a self-serving political gimmick solely designed to serve his political interests alone and not the cause of justice or the economy.

With an eye on the election tribunals he unilaterally suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen on the very day he was to constitute those tribunals based on undeclared foreign currencies found in his bank account. It is noteworthy that he used the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as alibi to move against the CJN. The CCT boss was once charged with corruption himself but has been exonerated by the Buhari Administration.

The evidence of President Buhari’s self-serving agenda in redrawing the national electoral map goes on and on. But it is curious that despite this desperate re-drawing of the electoral battle-space, Buhari “officially” won the elections with 15,191,847 to Atiku’s 11,262,978 a margin of 3, 918,870 votes. Buhari won in 19 states while Atiku won in 18 states including Abuja.

Given all that transpired before, during and after the election, Atiku Abubakar in my view is really the moral winner of the 2019 elections. There is nothing for President Buhari to be proud about here. Should he be proud of the fact that despite controlling all the instruments of power;despite intimidating the opposition;despite handpicking the INEC commissioners;despite having an APC senator aspirant supplythe machines used to print INEC’s permanent voters cards (PVC); despite voter intimidation in places like Lagos State; despite militarization of the key PDP strongholds; he could only win 19 states while Atiku won 18 states?

It is like a man who fought a cripple on a wheel chair claiming victory because he defeated the cripple on points and not with a technical knockout. Or again it is like a boxer with two hands who fought another boxer with one arm tied to his back, claiming victory after a fight that went the entire distance.

There is no way you can spin this one. Buhari did not win this election. Nigerian voters fed up with President Buhari not even Atiku Abubakar, are the actual winners of the 2019 Election. For if the truth be told, this election was about anybody but Buhari. That Buhari allegedly won is solely due to his misuse of his positionwithout scruples, misuse of his power without integrity and misuse of state resources without honor.

Atiku Abubakar is well within his rights to reject the outcome of the election. It is one thing to reject the results however, it is another thing to expect victory in Nigeria’s judicial system now firmly under the dictatorial clutches of President Buhari. For Atiku to win at the courts, three levels of evidence are required.

He has furnished video evidence of electoral violence, voter suppression and voter intimidation. That is primary evidence. He must in addition furnish the actual polling units results from all the polling stations in Nigeria purportedly in the PDP’s possession as well as INECs official polling unit results from all the polling units for comparative electoral forensic analysis.Afterboth sets of numbers are run through electoral forensic analytical software by political science experts, the contrived set of results will be identified. That is secondary evidence.

In an impartial and independent judicial system,a combination of primary and secondary evidence in Atiku’s favor may suffice to invalidate INEC’s “official” results. But Nigeria’s judiciary is clearly not impartial, and neither is it currently independent. To be able to win at the courts, Atiku Abubakar and the PDP must supply a tertiary level of evidence, a.k.a. the smoking gun.

Atiku Abubakar needs video evidence of electoral results tampering either during collation or during transmission such as over the period when INEC’s servers were inexplicably shut down during the results transmission process. This evidence must be so damming and so incontrovertible that even a jaundiced Supreme Court would have no alternative than to throw away INEC’s declared results as worthless.

As an independent observer I do not know what kind of evidence Atiku and the PDP have in their possession, but just as I would not underrate President Buhari who speaks and understands the language of blood, neither would I underrate Atiku Abubakar who speaks and understands the language of money.

It is within Atiku’s rights whether by sour grapes or by righteous indignation to reject the 2019 election results. It is also within his rights to seek redress under the law if he feels he has enough evidence at his disposal to invalidate President Buhari’s mandate.

Atiku should not be intimidated by anybody from seeking and exercising his rights under the Nigerian Electoral Laws. In doing so however Atiku should pay heed to the eternal advice of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ in Luke 14:31-32. “Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.”

That is the crux of the matter. Only Atiku and his cohorts know the exact cards he has in his hands. As a person who likes to believe in the Will of God, I also realize that heaven helps those who help themselves within the confines of the law. To proceed with litigation is Atiku’s and the PDP’s call to make. Even if the cards in Atiku’s hands today are currently weak, who knows what tomorrow will bring or reveal?

Co-conspirators have been known to repent and be ready to spill the beans during confession. Even Judas Iscariot experienced buyers’ remorse after betraying his master and collecting 30 pieces of silver. By refusing to concede defeat, Atiku may be securing the prospects of a future re-opening of the proverbial Pandora’s box. For instance, is it true as the PDP claimed that several high-ranking delegations were sent to the North West, the North East and South East shopping for 25% of the votes, vote suppression for PDP and vote inflation for APC? With time, the truth about the presidential elections 2019 will emerge.

In the meantime, President Buhari can now take his customary rest and leave the reins of power to his powerful cabal to rule in his name and absence. The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo can now resume his customary position as the glorified errand boy who obeys the whims and caprices of the cabal in power. The cabal themselves now have the coast cleared to enrich themselves further at the expense of other Nigerians. Truly I weep for my country Nigeria. They were in darkness. They saw a ray of light, mark you not the light itself, but a ray of light. Yet they preferred to remain in darkness. May it be well with Nigeria and Nigerians.

Postscript: With this piece, barring further developments that may lead to a resurrection, we intend to lay to rest this ‘Nation in Ruins’ cycle of essays. It has been one hell of a journey. Indeed, Nigeria is now a nation in ruins with a diagonal rift valley running from Adamawa State in the North East to Oyo State in the South West and two distinct mandates. Just look at the 2019 presidential election results.

President Buhari’s mandate to all intents and purposes lies to the north and west of the rift diagonal.Where the mandate of the people to the south and east of the rift diagonal lies is anybody’s guess. I salute all the peoples of Nigeria who clearly saw the danger in President Buhari and resisted him. May it be well with you and may posterity credit and reward your efforts.

To the people who stuck with Buhari despite damming evidence against his administration, I say good luck to you as we embark on the common journey to the next level of failure. As for me, forced to choose, I would always prefer to deal with the man who speaks and understands the language of money rather than the one who only speaks and understands the language of blood.