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Things that can’t happen in Nigerian politics

By Tonnie Iredia

On April 20, 2010, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, at a public forum made the following statement:  “If we are to be honest with ourselves, we have not been fair to the Niger-Delta…

The Niger- Delta has been producing the funds with which we have been running this country for so many years… The funds that we used to build bridges and offices that you see in Abuja came from funds from the Niger- Delta… I have not seen such bridges and roads in the Niger Delta.” On the excellent performance of the governor of a rival political party in Lagos, Dimeji said: “To some of you who have been in Lagos in the last one year, I am sure you would have noticed a difference.

And, I am not shy to appreciate that there is a difference in Lagos. It is good governance.” We were thus not surprised when Dimeji openly congratulated Segun Williams, the man who defeated him on April 9, 2011 in the National Assembly elections for the Abeokuta South Federal Constituency.

But, when Senator Bode Olajumoke followed the same path and congratulated his opponent, Professor Ajayi Boroffice, winner of their Ondo North Senatorial District election, we began to imagine that one of the emerging fresh political breaths in Nigeria may be the acceptance of defeat by some candidates who would immediately after the announcement of results concede victory to those declared as winners. Do alien things like this take root just like that? If they do, would it be in Nigeria?

We were still pondering on the subject when the news broke that some aggrieved candidates in Enugu State had rejected the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and asked it to declare Enugu State a ‘crisis-prone zone’ or they would fight the matter to a ‘logical conclusion.’

This report is no doubt a truer reflection of the Nigerian political culture. Indeed, in Abuja, other candidates besieged INEC headquarters alleging rregularities and demanding cancellation of the polls in their constituencies.

Among the protesters were the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Gen. Lawrence Onoja (rtd.); former governor of the state, George Akume, and serving Senator, Joseph Akaargerger. While Onoja described the election as a sham because the result was allegedly manipulated and did not reflect the votes during the election, Senator Akume claimed that there was no election and as such nobody should have emerged.

Senator Akaarkergher, on his part, lamented that the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner allowed himself to be used in favour of  PDP.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to say that these three distinguished Nigerians are bad losers because one of the things that cannot happen in Nigeria is a hitch-free election where everyone will have no option but to accept the result.

Anyone in disagreement with us should take a second look at the election in Anambra Central Senatorial District where ‘victorious’ Dr. Chris Ngige had received congratulatory messages from far and wide, including from Senate President David Mark before the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuemeka Onukaogu, described as illegal, his commission’s declaration of Ngige as winner of the election. Onukaogu said the Returning officer, Dr. Alex Anene, who announced Ngige’s victory should be arrested because he was no longer in charge as at the time he made the announcement.

He said a new returning officer, Prof. Charles Asimonye, had already been appointed and that the position of the newly- appointed returning officer that elections in cancelled wards should be rerun stands. Anene had gone underground after announcing that he was under pressure from certain quarters to declare Ngige’s main opponent Prof. Dora Akunyili of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), winner of the election.

He said his life was under threat after rejecting an offer of N10 million, a car and a house from APGA. He reappeared the next day to announce Ngige as winner. But Akunyili and her party denied the claim and accused Ngige of desperation to win. So, how do we place this episode in the April 9,  election which appeared well handled?

Many people were happy with INEC on it, yet, there was inexplicable confusion somewhere and there appears to be strong grievances in many places as many of the aggrieved candidates spoke with one voice like a united group.

For example, at a  joint press conference addressed by aggrieved candidates belonging to different parties in Enugu, the spokesperson and Labour Party senatorial candidate in Enugu West, Prof. Nick Eze, blamed INEC for allowing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to violate all the rules guiding the conduct of elections. So, why can’t all the aggrieved opposition parties come together against a common enemy? We submit that they cannot because collaborative politics cannot happen in Nigeria.

Just before yesterday’s Presidential election, the National Chairman of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party(ANPP), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, urged all opposition parties to come together  to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan.

Considering the usual defections of ANPP leaders after elections, everyone knew that Dr. Onu was engaged in the communication of the deaf and that Nigerian politicians are too selfish to collaborate. Somehow, ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) appeared serious to work together but at the appropriate time, ACN’s National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, told us all that “while it is true that representatives of both parties have engaged in talks aimed at forging an alliance that could dislodge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the clueless party that has frittered away the huge opportunities that could have transformed our great country in the past 12 years, we regret to announce that such talks have not led to any alliance.”

What we were not immediately able to ascertain was whether the talks involved the real ACN leader, Asiwaju Bola  Tinubu. This is because there were other reports that the former governor of Lagos State, was during the period seen at the Presidential Lounge of the Murtala Muhammed Airport boarding a Presidential jet registration number  5N FGU allegedly sent from Abuja to ferry him to the capital city.

To the opposition parties, PDP is “clueless” yet they are unable to sacrifice their individual urge for office to rescue the nation. The truth, therefore, is that we have just gone through the periodic rituals of fraudulent alliances between our political parties -the alternative is yet to happen in Nigeria.


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