This year will mark the 20th anniversary of Nigeria’s uninterrupted democracy ,the longest so far in the history of the nation after its independence from the Britain.The first taste of the nation to democracy as an independent nation was between the 1st day of October 1960 to the 15th day of 1966 when we had the First Republic for about six (6) years before being sent packing by the military guys.Thereafter, the Generals like Agunyi Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed and Olusegun Obasanjo came in succession as military Heads of State for the period of thirteen (13) years .
On the 1st day of October 1979 ,the nation returned to democracy when General Obasanjo handed over power to Alhaji Shehu Shagari as the elected executive President but was eased out of power in another military coup of the 31st of day of December 1983 having spent about four (4) years. Major General Muhammadu Buhari became the Head of State and having spent about twenty (20) months was removed in a palace coup of the 27th day of August 1985. General Ibrahim Babangida became a military President and was in power till the 27th day of August 1993 when he stepped aside. General Sani Abacha towards the end of 1993 displaced the Interim National Govermnet (ING) put in place by Babangida under Chief Earnest Sonekan after annulling the June 12 elections. Abacha died in office in 1998 and was succeeded by General Abdulsalami Abubakar who handed over power to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on 29th May 1999.
On the 23rd day of February 2019, the Nigerians again went to poll to decide in a presidential election whether to re-elect, President Muhammdu Buhari of All Progressive Congress (APC) for another four (4) years or replace him with Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, the presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP). The electoral battle was well fought between the two major contenders in the midst of about 71 presdential candidates. At the end of the collation of the results, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the keenly contested election by scoring 15,191,847 votes while his closest rival Alhaji Abubakar Atiku scored 11,262,978.
The announcement of Buhari as the winner of the presidential election actually brought to an end the long waiting period of suspense and curiosity characterized by campaigns of calumny and names calling. What happened prior to the just concluded election was the repeat of what happened prior to the 2015 presidential election where the press was used to launch heavy attack on the Buhari candidacy. The social media was greatly employed this time around to intensify the attack and assault on the people’s General with the view to discredit his candidacy for the presidential election. While some renown newspapers’ columnists devoted their columns to wage the hate war against Buhari, some people on Facebook, Whats app and Twitters among others struggled very hard to dismantle the Buhari phenomenon but all to no avail. At the end of the day, those that were paid by their masters to carry out the odd jobs did not succeed in dismantling the Buhari phenomenon.The man carried the day contrary to their expectations. Many people in their campaigns against Buhari carried their hatred for him to the extreme. While there is nothing bad in supporting a particular candidate or have admiration for some politicians but taking it to the point of extremism is irrational.
When Buhari came to Lagos for campaign and visited Oba Rilwan Akinolu, the Oba of Lagos, Buhari was made to sit on the throne to honour him; someone displayed the picture on his Facebook page with the caption: “This is a great insult to great Lagos traditional institution” with the view to generate traffic and negative reactions on his post. There were indeed mixed reactions to the said post. Although it is always not in my character to join issue with people on such this kind of things, but I was forced to make an intervention as follows:
“But I keep wondering what continues to give some people headache, even if Oba Akinolu, the Oba of Lagos decided to momentarily quit his throne for PMB to sit on .To me such an act should be an honour to one’s guest.Does that change the status of Akinolu as Oba of Lagos or the status of PMB as Nigeria’s President? Is that how they complain about ‘One day Lagos State Governor’ usually use in honouring our young ones?’ Only God knows when this their hatred against PMB will come to an end.”
On the Election Day, some people who were jittery of Buhari’s victory were busy posting on social media various pictures of the unfortunate incidents in Benue State and calling on the electorates not to vote for PMB so that they would not be met with similar fate. Despite all these campaigns of calumny, Nigerian people ignored them and spoke with their votes on whom they actually wanted as their President. In my years of studying Nigerian history and politics, I have never seen a politician so bombarded as Buhari but still survive the bombardment .Perhaps that was the miracle of Buhari phenomenon. Prior to the 2015 presidential election, some politicians abandoned Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and his PDP for the APC which greatly contributed to his losting that election. Those politicians again prior to the 2019 presidential election also abandoned PMB and his APC for PDP but unlike GEJ ,PMB did not only win the 2019 presidential election , he defeated those run-away politicians in their home states and their strong holds which they could not deliver to their party. What many of these run-away politicians have failed to realize was that they benefited immensely from the Buhari phenomenon the other time they abandoned PDP for the APC because they rode to power then through Buhari’s influence in the 2015 General Election. The question now is that: having ran back to the abandoned PDP, were those run-away politicians able to capture their strong-holds for their party?
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ), the master letter writer was strongly opposed to the PMB’s second term bid which he had for himself and even wanted the third term which was frustrated by Alhaji Abubakar Atiku whom he eventually made a u-turn to adopt as his presidential candidate for the 2019 election. But contrary to the OBJ’s expectation, Atiku suffered defeat in the hand of Buhari even in OBJ’s home state; he could not even deliver his polling unit to his adopted candidate. The other day someone wrote and prayed that “may OBJ never write you a letter” that those leaders he had written letters to in the past lost elections. With the PMB’s victory in the just concluded presidential election, the Buhari phenomenon has put an end to this OBJ’s myth.
The 2019 presidential elections is not without lessons to be learnt therefrom for those who want to learn.It has shown that elections are not won through campaigns of calumny and hatred in the press and on the social media. There is a limit to every propaganda as people have now become more wise. Those who continue live on the false illusion that they are greater than their people must have now learnt their big lessons as according to Chinua Achebe : “No matter how great a man ,he cannot be greater than his people” . As long as the elites continue to refuse to do what is right, they will continue to be at the receiving end. The involvement of the elites in the O TO GE revolution in Kwara State this time around made the difference. The presidential election verdict has truly justified the maxim that “Good name is better than gold”.When the data of the Nigerians that registered for vote is compared with the number of Nigerians that actually came out to vote, it shows that expect in the Northern part of country , other Nigerians in other parts of the country are not keen in discharging their civic responsibilities which is not good enough. There must be change of attitude positively when it comes to the issue of electing our leaders as it will be hypocritical on the part of the Nigerians to criticize the people in government when they themselves are not involved in the process of electing them.
ATIKU GOES TO THE TRIBUNAL
I was highly impressed the other day when Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, former Vice President of Nigeria and the Presidential flagbearer of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded election quoted and adopted Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s popular remark that: “My ambition does not worth the blood of any Nigerian” at the meeting organized by the General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s Peace Committee for the presidential candidates before the election to sign a peace accord to abide by the outcome of the election. But I was depressed when the presidential election results was declared by the INEC Chairman but the Turaki of Adamawa refused to follow the footstep of GEJ by picking up his phone to congratulate the President-elect.
It is a good thing that Atiku has decided to ignore those calling on him to follow the footstep of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola to declare what is similar to the “Epetedo declaration”. Some people who pretended to love Atiku than himself had called the election a “Charade” and asked him to form a parallel government.The first time a came across the word “Charade” was when it was used by the late Chief Alex Ekweme, former Vice –President of Nigeria when he used it to describe the PDP primary election that gave OBJ the second term ticket in which he ,Chief Ekweme was involved. Despite the usage of that word, OBJ with Atiku completed the second term in office.OBJ even wanted third term but was revolted against by Atiku as I mentioned earlier .Many of those who wrongly advised MKO are still alive today.
I commend Atiku for the well fought electoral battle and I still advice that he should take the defeat in good faith.In every election there is bound to be a winner and loser.A loser today may be a winner tomorrow.But since Atiku and PDP have remained adamant on going to the election tribunal to ventilate their grievances and challenge the election verdict,I wish them best of luck. At least going to the Election Petition Tribunal is better than calling people to violent or creating crisis as being earlier suggested to him by some people. I advise Turaki Adamawa to beware of those people pretending to be his friends.
There is no doubt Atiku has help in one way or the other to develop our legal jurisprudence in many cases he had fought in the court of law.You will vividly remember when OBJ unilaterally removed him as Vice President for cross carpeting to another party, he dragged his boss, OBJ to court and won. Like his friend, the President -elect, PMB, they had both gone to court to challenge their defeats in court in the past. If you go through some Law Reports you will see cases such as BUHARI Vs OBASANJO, you will even see BUHARI, ATIKU Vs. YAR’ADUA as well as BUHARI Vs GEJ. Now that the case of ATIKU Vs BUHARI is loading,whether Atiku will succeed in pulling off rug from PMB’s feet is the question to be answered by our great jurists on the bench. But for now my congratulations to PMB and PYO for winning the second term contrary to the expectation of our many friends. The Buhari phenomenon actually did the magic! May the Almighty God guide them in taking Nigerians to the PROMISED LAND through the NEXT LEVEL!
ON ELECTION PETITION
“Learned Senior Counsel for the appellant claimed in his submission, that the result of election showed that there was no winner and no loser .If election produced neither winner nor loser against who, by who and upon what grounds can an election petition be brought? It is a candidate or a party who lost the election that can file a petition against the winner as respondent .See S. 137 (1) (2) of the Act…A no –winner, no-loser situation does not constitute a ground of presenting an election petition under the Act or the Constitution.”
Per NGWUTA , JSC in C.P.C. Vs. INEC (2011) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1279) Pg. 578 Paras G-H
THE SETTLED PRINCIPLE OF LAW
On status of election result declared by electoral commission
“It is trite law that there is a rebuttable presumption that the result of any election declared by the electoral commission is correct and authentic and the burden lies on the party that disputes the correctness and authenticity of the result to lead rebuttal evidence.”
See Buhari Vs. Obansanjo (2005) 130 LRCN at 2191-92; (2005) 12 NWLR (Pt. 941); Nwobodo Vs. Onoh (1984) 1 SCNLR 1; Omoboriowo Vs. Ajasin (1984) 1 SCNLR 108; OKOLUGBO Vs. ISEI (2006) 8 NWLR (Pt. 982) Pg. 318 Para D
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