By Adekunle Adekoya
In the July 23 issue of this column, the headline was: “Road to 2023 now clear, with poverty as potholes.”
At the time, the raging controversy was on the wording of a clause in the Electoral Act Amendments Bill before the National Assembly, which at the time sought to disable the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from transmitting results by electronic means.
Following an uproar, the Senate re-worked the clause with a provision allowing INEC to transmit elections results electronically, but inserted another clause that compels all political parties to adopt the direct primary mode in choosing candidates that’ll contest in elections.
That generated another uproar. The bill was sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, and after it gathered a few centimetres of harmattan dust on presidential shelves, it was retrieved and sent back to the National Assembly with a letter stating why the president is declining assent.
My personal position on the matter, which unfortunately tallies with some of the reasons adduced to the presidential veto, was that the provision on direct primary elections infringed on the fundamental human rights of the parties and their individual members. Indeed, in this column, I urged the president not to sign the bill. He has not, and another uproar is raging in the polity.
Some things, which seemed hidden at first, are now clearer. One is the timing of the veto, or its announcement. Coming very close to when the National Assembly is going on Yuletide break, it is fancy political timing, in fact, brilliant.
Since we are not known for rigour here, especially on matters concerning public affairs, it is good deduction that the legislators, like other human beings, will not have time to work on the presidential veto and come out with an appropriate response, whatever that will be.
By the time they resume in January, the lobby machine would have worked itself out on the legislators, such that the 76 or so signatures collected to override the veto would have thinned down considerably as to be of no effect.
It is also clear that the president, finding himself between the legislators and the all-powerful Governors Forum, decided to be loyal and disloyal to both at the same time by using his veto power.
It’s like a “make una go settle am” situation.
The strategist(s) behind introduction of direct primary election provision in the Electoral Act amendment bill is/are receiving accolades now, with smirks of self-satisfaction adorning their faces.
Whoever he is, whoever they are, they are probably clinking glasses now for the success of their strategy, but I must tell him or them that the accolades coming his/their way is the type that the notorious Heinrich Himmler of the Nazi party got in Hitler’s Germany, or the commendations Col. Moses Maliyamungu got from Idi Amin Dada in Uganda. This is because at the end of the day, both Himmler and Maliyamungu helped in no small measure to bring their principals to perdition, and their countries as well.
Germany may have recovered, but Uganda is still struggling with the after-effects of the Idi Amin years.
For those that still remain optimistic, the Electoral Amendment Bill may be dead, and we may be heading towards the 2023 elections with the old law.
That means thuggery, ballot box snatching, result sheets alteration, attacks on collation centres and other evils which make people win elections in courts rather than at the polls will continue, and we’d have to start all over again; Nigerians have a stillborn on their hands.
It all boils down to a vicious power play involving members of the ruling faction of the power elite.
The focus is power and who wields it, especially at the federal level. Other existential problems facing us, ordinary Nigerians, pale into insignificance where interests of the power gladiators are concerned.
Kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, insurgency and other evils receive minuscule attention, not to talk of prices of food items that have broken through the roofs into the skies. All said and done, I’m afraid the Nigeria we create is the one we’ll get since we continue clapping for our traducers.
The mood nationwide is dank and bleak, but still, we must thank God we’re alive to see another Yuletide.