Since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government on May 29th, two important elections have held and the outcomes of those elections cannot be said to be satisfactory.
Curiously, the two elections ended up inconclusive. The seeming aloofness from the body language of the president paints a character of a man in denial of reality of rising political violence and rigging; unable to rise above his party interest, enchained in the extreme powers of the most violent and strongest winner.
Had the Bayelsa and Kogi polls not been inconclusive, scarce resources would have been saved and used for other important tasks. It is not a public good that elections have to be this expensive. Whereas in high income countries where the president loves to globetrot freely yet learns nothing, election is a contest of Ideas; the reverse is the case in his Lilliputian democracy, where elections have become a show of might with guns, violence with the alleged backing of a certain federal might.
Is democracy under Buhari breeding political violence? This perhaps is a tough question with good arguments on both sides. Right now it is our prerogative to air one. In the face of glaring evidence ofreprehensible political killings and maiming of citizens, snatching of ballot boxes by hired thugs with allegations of complicity by security and some INEC officials; diversion of election materials and murderous rigging, malfunctioning of card readers and INEC’s laid back attitude,there is no way that votes would count. Sadly, it appears there is no real commitment by the Buhari administration to harness the undoubted potentials of Africa’s populous democracy as a force for good.
It is our view that a proper democracy does not merely have competitive elections; it also has rules for the conduct of those elections where cheating gets punished. If this life and death struggles are not subjected to rules of conduct as was the case with the Bayelsa and Kogi polls, defined with brazen use of thugs by political strongmen to deny people their right to vote, the contestants are driven to extremes. The political strongman in a divided society is seldom a visionary leader; he is more likely to be self-serving, caged in the interest of a narrow support group.
As we ponder the supplementary election which will be conducted in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in the coming days, we wish to add our voice on the call by Nigerians on President Muhammadu Buhari to read the riot act to the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, to do a better job than they did in the previous polls; the conduct of military personnel and law enforcement we think should be one that discourages political violence instead of encouraging it.