By Mohammed Adamu
When I wrote ‘2011: On a Wing and a Prayer’, I had jocularly asked the perplexing question: “between Jega and Joe who will take who to hell or who to heaven? Will they both make hell or altogether lose Eden?”.
And, after the PDP charade penultimate week, I remain even more perplexed. If what should aptly be described as a travesty of the electoral process, is now passed as a ‘model’ of ‘free and fair election’, what are the guarantees we will not inherit a controversial mandate after the April presidential polls?
Here was a primaries conducted by a panel largely made up of governors who were not only un-disguisedly pro-Jonathan, but many of whose states, prior to the primaries, the main contender, Atiku, was publicly barred from going in to campaign; an election at which it was virtually impossible to ascertain whether delegates who voted were those actually ‘elected’ or ‘selected’ to come to Abuja.
Where all electoral procedures were deliberately planned to satisfy the preconceived plans of the President’s notorious election-riggers. So that caged delegates were unconscionably herded and under subtle but inescapable duress, made to cast their votes in state-designated ballot boxes. Reason: so that if they voted ‘wrongly’ it should betray their collective civic conscience -and after the election either collectively entitle them to the punitive reaction of political overlords or at the very least disentitle them to promised post-election rewards.
Primaries where strangely more delegates were allocated to pro-Jonathan states to the disadvantage of far more populated pro-zoning ones: 119 to 9.5 million-strong Kano; 141 delegates to 3.9 million-strong Akwa Ibom; 151 to a 4 million-strong Delta and 55 to an ‘unsure’ 9 million-strong Lagos; and to 5.8 million-strong Katsina went the highest number of delegates, 158 -because Shema is on all-fours with Jonathan about the need to mutually help each other –one from the monster of zoning and the other from the goblin of Buhari-lynching.
Yet, this was bandied as an electoral ‘model’ of ‘free and fair election’. And, when Atiku was rumoured to seek redress in court they began to preach the doctrine of post-election reconciliation; of the need to concede defeat in the spirit of electoral sportsmanship; without bitterness; without litigation. Forget all electoral injustices; real or perceived. And, ‘move forward’. They advice: ‘now that we have come onto this ‘inevitable’ status quo, let’s all proceed in the interest of the nation –and not needlessly upset the political ante?
It was in the defence of this kind of status quo Yar’Adua’s return from Saudi was demonised as distractive and situationally ‘kill-joy’.
And, for which they urged ‘moderation’, ‘restraint’ and the need to put the Abuja bomb blasts “behind us” -so Nigeria can “move forward”.
Even those who admitted the PDP primaries were transparently rigged, still say: “so were all the others!”; -insisting still that Atiku should “look at the bigger picture” –Nigeria. Litigation will be ‘costly, time-wasting and divisive’. Moreover ‘why should any democrat be proud to gain judicial victory which he failed to achieve by the ‘democratic process’?
But I ask: is not the ‘judicial process’ an integral part of the ‘democratic process’? Did they not, even against a subsisting court judgment (which had said Jonathan as Vice-President lacked no presidential powers) still cheered Falana on a voyage of litigious legal forum shopping?; Did they not, against the grain of the law, champion the legislature’s usurpation of a conventionally judicial remedy, the doctrine of necessity, and by so doing helped to confer on an already dictatorship-bound NASS king-making power that the Constitution never contemplated?
Did they not support pro-Jonathan lawyers seek court orders to compel the Federal Executive Council to declare Yar’Adua medically unfit? Why now preach ‘let sleeping dog lie’ when even sick humans weren’t allowed to? What is wrong with going to court? To resolve matters. Availing oneself of the judicial process? In the hope of getting justice. Did we not cheer Buhari against his brother, Yar’Adua?
In court? Did we not egg Oshiomhole on to go to court? And, for years helped Osun’s Aregbesola?; In court?; Mimiko against Agagu; or Fayemi against Oni?
And, I thought we did all these because we believed like William Pitt said: “where the law ends, tyranny begins”; or Shakespeare when he wrote: “Sparing justice feeds iniquity.” Why should not Atiku to go to court? Did we not, when he was fighting our common bête noire Obj, celebrate Atiku as the judicial path-finder of our stuttering democratic journey? Did we not say he was a fresh breath of litigious air and a welcomed leveller of the many legal lacunas inherent in our legal system?
What is wrong with going to court? The late Gani Fawehinmi’s reputation was built around going to court. Fighting for rights. Because like Blaise Pascal would say: “justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful and whatever is powerful may be just.”
Why should there be ‘end to litigation’ when there is no end to ‘electoral injustice’?