By Emmanuel Aziken
The murder of Nigeria’s electoral conscience did not start when Mrs. Salome Abuh was locked inside her home and burnt alive because of her opposition to a second term for Governor Yahaya Bello.
It also did not start with those policemen who flew the helicopters that threw teargas canisters to disperse voters who believed that they were supposed to come out to vote. Or with the policemen who surrendered their authority to “fake policemen” who reigned terror on the citizenry in Kogi and Bayelsa last Saturday.
It certainly did not start with those ‘civil society businessmen’ who till last Tuesday were hanging around Government House, Lokoja to be mobilized to address the media in support of a free and fair election.
The murder of conscience started well before. It started with the electoral umpire who told Nigerians that it was going to conduct a free and fair election but in the end conducted the worst election in the history of the country.
It is telling that the umpire of the war that took place a week ago has yet to invent a phrase to exculpate itself from blame for what is unquestionably the worst election in the history of Nigeria.
Until 2019, the 2007 General Election conducted by Prof. Maurice Iwu was generally regarded as the reference point for election irregularities. However, no more!
With what happened last week, Prof. Iwu’s record may well have been sanitized with the consequence that the blueprint for electoral success in Nigeria may have been wholly redefined.
It is now being said that those who are interested in politics will no longer have to campaign. What need is there for you to campaign when it is not likely to help you.
Strategists are now saying that the easier path to victory is for candidates to stock arms, compromise election officers, and buy up the security agencies. Pronto, INEC will return you as the winner. Those who protest can go to court!
Indeed, the refrain from election managers has been to assert that INEC was not responsible for the security meltdown in the two states.
Indeed, it has been a pity watching one of Nigeria’s finest souls, Mr. Festus Okoye who distinguished himself as a genuine civil rights advocate right from Kaduna acting as a spokesman for the electoral chaos that happened in Kogi and Bayelsa last weekend.
Remarkably, Mr. Okoye’s vacant position in the civil rights community is now being taken over by the charlatans who hang around Government Houses negotiating against the truth.
What a sweet thing it would have been if Mr. Okoye had taken the consistency of truth to INEC in a way that Mr. Mike Igini has been globally acknowledged to have done.
Remarkably, the developments in the two states where election took place happened as President Goodluck Jonathan celebrated his 62nd birthday.
Dr. Jonathan was celebrated this week as the man who affirmed that his political aspiration was not worth the blood of a single Nigerian.
How remarkable it would have been if the echo of such had continued at the highest levels of government.
However, the question remains as to whether the outcome of the election would have been different if the two states were not turned into war zones?
In Kogi for example, Governor Bello had everything going for him after the fiasco of the PDP governorship primaries.
The same violence that the PDP campaign complained was used against it in the main election was apparent in the PDP governorship primaries.
Even the mannerism of the PDP candidate was something that oozed arrogance that brought some to ask whether it was not better holding on to Bello with all the baggage than allowing another untested person.
Similarly, in Bayelsa State, the defeat of the PDP candidate in the hands of David Lyon who many did not hear make a campaign pitch was against the background of the personal political permutations of the outgoing governor, Seriake Dickson.
Could Lyon have won without the violence that shadowed the contest last Saturday? The answer remains in the realm of uncertainty given the cold shoulder the majority of the Bayelsan elites gave to Dickson’s political foibles.
The answers remain hazy.
But what is not hazy is that in Bayelsa and Kogi scores were killed on election eve, during the election and pitiably for Mrs. Abuh even after the election.
In a saner society, the blood of Mrs. Abuh should have triggered a revulsion across political boundaries to birth a new system. But not with folks whose consciences have been deadened!