There seems to be a sustained campaign against the outcome of elections in the South South and South East regions of the country by those who claim that the elections were rigged for the PDP. In this piece, EMMA ALOZIE looks at who are those behind the campaign and why they are bent carrying out the campaign.
Since after the conclusion of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, there has been an avalanche of opinions on how the elections went. Commentators and analysts alike have been giving their verdicts on how the votes went and why those who voted for who or which party voted that way.
Curiously, the one that has really excited many commentators is how the elections went in the two regions of South South and South East, generally regarded as President Goodluck Jonathan’s stronghold.
In the last election, the two dominant parties; the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Party, APC had their strongholds, where bookmakers knew even ahead of the elections which party and which candidate would win the election.
For instance, it was a given that APC’s Muhammadu Buhari would win massively in North West and North East, while it was a certainty that PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan would win South East and South South. Bookmakers equally predicted that the election would be lost and won in the two swing regions of South West and North Central, saying that whichever party that would win the majority of votes cast in these two regions would win the presidential election.
And true to the predictions of the bookmakers, the elections especially the presidential election went just that way.
Worryingly however, is the growing tendency by some people to dismiss the elections in the South South and South East as questionable and as not indicative of the wishes of the people of the regions. The narrative since after the elections has been that the elections in these two regions were massively rigged in favour of the PDP.
For instance, while speaking recently at the investiture of Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State as Verbatim magazine’s Man of the Year at Giginya-Coral Hotel, Sokoto, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, a chieftain of the APC categorically dismissed the elections in the South East and South South saying that the results were rigged while commending the elections in the north and South West.
“So far in our country, Nigeria is divided into two parts. On the one hand in the North and South West, elections are reasonably free and fair while in the South-South and the South East, results of elections, to a large extent, are written in homes,” he said.
Similarly, Professor Akin Mabogunje, an ally of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in an interview he granted to a local radio station in Abeokuta said the elections in other parts of the country were free, fair and credible except in the south south and south east.
“Let me say that the election can be said to be free, fair and credible. However, I was listening to a senator on television who said when you talk about election, you must distinguish between the upstream and down-stream sides of election, that the down-stream side of an election are the real people voting and what happens to their votes when it gets to the collation centres or after voting, is the upstream, and that’s exactly what is happening.
“The rascality at the upstream has not been dealt with, you can see some of the figures from the South- East and South-South, that couldn’t be the result of people standing to vote, so there are still a lot of issues about what to do at the upstream. The governor of Rivers State kept saying he won’t vote unless he sees the result sheets and in some states, some powerful individuals have put the system in their pockets and they did what they like with the result sheet.
“I think Jega just decided he is not going to kill himself if that’s what they want. The upstream sector is still a problem of our elections. Like in Akwa- Ibom as somebody said, they have allocated the figures to themselves from the Governor and the problem was how to distribute them, you can see that it’s all bogus, until we get to a point where we stop saying until it gets to Jega before problems are solved. What Jega solved was the problems of snatching ballot papers and harassing people on the day, the upstream problem where the powerful people still influence results are still there,” Professor Mabogunje said.
The concerted efforts to discredit the elections in the two zones continued when former governor of Abia state and senatorial candidate in the last election, Orji Uzor Kalu joined others to declare that elections in the South East were rigged in favour of the PDP.
According to the former Abia governor, “the issue is that what happened in my constituency was a rigged election. Apart from Enugu and Ebonyi states, where the PDP had very good outings, every other state they won in the South-East was rigged. In Aba, I can tell you and I will tell Jonathan, that he did not win election in Aba. The APC won the election there but when I saw the result, it was a different thing because the people were angry because of the attitude of T. A Orji and the occasional interference of the wife of the President. People were angry.”
With the orchestrated campaign against elections in South South and South East, many are wondering why the deluge of condemnations and why singling out these two zones out of the six zones where elections held. Some suggest that the sustained campaign is aimed at stampeding the tribunals into arriving at verdicts favourable to the campaigners.
A group known as the South East Progressives Assembly, SEPA, has described some of the utterances about the elections in these two zones as shameful and advised those who think otherwise to do the needful by approaching the tribunals and then allow the tribunals to do their jobs. Reacting specifically to the comments credited to former Abia governor, Orji Kalu, a statement signed by the group’s president, Ebere Uzoukwa said, “Though we don’t intend to join issues with Kalu who suffered a humiliating defeat in the Abia North senatorial contest, it is however crucial to caution these agents of darkness and selfish politicians against making inciting comments on the outcome of the 2015 general elections in south east and south south.
“Suffice to say that 2015 elections had been won and lost. Any loser that rejects the results as announced by INEC or faults the process has a destination created by the law- The Tribunal. The judges shall entertain their petition and adjudicate strictly on them based on the law.
“It is therefore in view of the foregoing that SEPA admonishes Kalu and co-travelers to approach the tribunal with whatever evidence they may have gathered. They should stop acting as judges on their own matter. They should know that election tribunal cases are not won either on the pages of newspapers or on national television. Rather than dancing naked in the market square, we expect Kalu and other bad losers to channel their energies on how to argue their matters before the tribunal. They should also allow our revered judges to adjudicate over the petitions brought before them based on the constitution and electoral act.”
Also, a Lagos based legal practitioner, Paul Nwogu wonder why this sustained campaign and questioned the credibility of elections in other parts of the country. According to him, “if two million voters could come out to vote in Kano even with no recorded voided votes, why are some people finding it hard to believe that up to one million people could come out to vote in places like Rivers and Akwa Ibom? Or is there anything that makes a Kano man more voter happy and then instills voter apathy on the Akwa Ibom man. In any case, why are people not talking of high incidences of underage voters recorded almost everywhere in the northern part of the country”?