By Josef Omorotionmwan
HISTORY is not in a hurry to forget Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), one American who was a most eloquent and witty candidate of the Democratic Party, but who remained unsuccessful in his bids for the number one position in the land. In 1952, Stevenson got drafted into the presidential race by the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
He came second in the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956, beaten each time by General Dwight Eisenhower.
Buhari has shattered Stevenson’s record. In 2003 and 2007, Buhari contested the presidency of Nigeria on the platform of the ANPP.
In 2003, he was defeated by General Obasanjo with a margin of more than 11 million votes. He headed for the Court of Appeal, the court of first instance in the presidential election cases, where he was able to prove that although there were cases of malpractices, such malpractices were not enough to overturn Obasanjo’s victory. He proceeded to the Supreme Court, which on July 1, 2005 upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal.
In the 2007 presidential election, Buhari lost to Yar’Adua with a margin of over 18 million votes. As usual, Buhari travelled through the judicial maze. At the Court of Appeal, Yar’ Adua’s victory was upheld, even where Yar’ Adua had personally announced at his inauguration that there were flaws in the election that brought him into office.
Buhari still proceeded to the Supreme Court, where he received the rude shock that although there was substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, the Justices still affirmed the judgment of the Appeal Court on a split decision of four to three.
Coming under the CPC platform, Buhari has just been beaten by Jonathan with a margin of more than 12 million votes and he has promised to go through the torture of the judicial process. This time around, we hear that Buhari is claiming that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had special software in its system that eliminated 40 percent of his votes. Here, the onus of proof of the allegation is on him.
Buhari has been one of the few decent Nigerians on the political scene. Regrettably, though, he is fast losing the hearts of Nigerians. For how long are we going to be living in a country where the citizens are wolves unto their fellow citizens? A nation that is unable to protect its youths of today has no moral justification to look up to good leadership tomorrow. How does anyone explain a situation where our young ones on altruistic national assignments are being killed like insects?
Ordinarily, Generals are not given to cheap denials. Before our very eyes, this country is gliding towards anarchy in every direction. Recently, the National Assembly members amended themselves into the Electoral Act by ousting the jurisdiction of the tribunals and courts on electoral cases. That explains why we were seemingly carried away by Buhari’s call that all elections must be summarily determined at the polling stations when he told his supporters to lynch anyone who tries to rig the elections.
In the area of interpretation, those supporters have seen the NYSC members whose excellent performances have not allowed their principal to win as the riggers who must be lynched and the churches where Christians go to pray for order and good governance in this country are by their own interpretation, houses of rigging that must be burnt! By denying that the violence, which has enveloped the North is not his handiwork, Buhari is merely insulting the collective sensibilities of all of us.
Buhari should be man enough to tell his people that those they are killing are not the ones he asked them to kill. He should be man enough to point them to order that they are aiming at the wrong targets but in all of this, there is no way he can disown at least vicarious liability for what is happening. Perhaps unwittingly, Buhari’s supporters may have accepted that the elections in the areas where their principal won were rigged and that’s why the lynching of NYSC members as well as the burning of churches is domiciled in those same areas.
It is not yet late in the day for President Jonathan to own up if he cannot run this nation. What else are we waiting for to bring Buhari to book? In Kenya, the post-election violence that accompanied the 2007 general elections led to the death of some 1,500 persons. On account of this, Uhuru Kenyetta, Deputy Prime Minister in the current coalition government is today facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Court of Justice in the Hague even where he was not caught leading the mob that caused those deaths.
Yet, in Nigeria, rioters would lock up 50 NYSC members in their lodge and set the house ablaze. It is immaterial that they were able to escape through the mercy of God. What of the NYSC members killed with reckless abandon like poisoned rats all over the place?
How are these different from the Kenya situation? Has the NYSC not outlived its usefulness? Or, is it not due for wholesale reform so that members can serve in their geo-political zones instead of being sentenced to unwarranted deaths in the name of national cohesion that does not exist? When we talk of compensating families of victims, just how much money is sufficient atonement for human life??