By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Yesterday’s court decision stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC from going ahead with the further collation of the results of the Bauchi State governorship election of March 9 was a last-ditch effort by the incumbent governor to hold on to power. It also showed to limit to which the Muhammadu Buhari phenomenon could go in holding someone in power.
Last Monday, a day before the court action, Governor Abubakar who was the All Progressives Congress, APC candidate in the election visited President Buhari apparently to brief him and seek his encouragement in his travails.
Governor Abubakar at the point the collation was suspended last week was trailing his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP rival, Senator Bala Mohammed with 4,059 votes, having scored 465,453 votes against the PDP candidate’s 469,512 votes.
The election was initially declared inconclusive on the claim that the results from Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area had been mutilated.
The mutilation apparently came after political party thugs invaded the collation centre and grabbed the results from the Mrs. Dominion Anosike, the Local Government Area collation returning officer. Mrs. Anosike was, however, able to generate the results in a replacement form but because she did not seek the permission of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC of the state as required the result she submitted was rejected.
At that point also, the number of cancelled votes in Ningi Local Government Area was also mutilated by the addition of one “Zero” to the final figure of 2,533 which raised the number to 25,330. That also raised the total number of cancelled votes in the state to 45,312.
It was upon that claim that INEC initially decided that there would be a runoff as the final number of cancelled votes was more than the difference between Bala Mohammed and Abubakar Mohammed.
However, things worked against the governor after a committee from INEC headed by Festus Okoye discovered the mutilation in Ningi and scaled back the number of cancelled votes from 25,330 to 2,533 by removing the ZERO that had been added to it.
Even more, the committee also proved that the regenerated result sheets from Tafawa Balewa were correct upon which the commission last Friday, resolved to go ahead with the collation.
Remarkably, various interests in the state led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara had paid special interest in the case, and Dogara especially so. Dogara represents Tafawa Balewa in the House of Representatives and had been at odds with Governor Abubakar for more than three years.
The governor had vowed to crush Dogara who had won back to back elections on different political platforms from the constituency in four straight terms.
At the collation of the figures for Tafawa Balewa before the invasion of the thugs, Bala Mohammed was leading Governor Abubakar by 40,010 votes against the APC’s 29,862 votes.
Allowing the integration of Tafewa Balewa would have extended the lead to more than 14,000 votes and put the election beyond the governor who in that case would then become the first incumbent governor of the state to have been thrown out.
Reasons, why the governor came to be embattled in one of the safest Buhari territories, have flowed from claims of superciliousness to allegations that he is not from the state.
It could also be imagined that had the governor spectacularly performed that he could well have used his performance to wave off the human indiscretions put against him.
Besides the Bauchi leaders led by Speaker Dogara, the governor also has as his challenger, Senator Bala Mohammed, the former journalist turned politician who is believed to have scripted the pathway that helped to remove the political roots of Governor Adamu Muazu, unarguably, the best performing governor the state has seen in the Fourth Republic.