OBASANJO, THE ELECTIONS MUST HOLD

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It  is clearly an indication of the sorry pass that Obasanjo’s desperacy to remain in power has taken Nigeria, that a few week to the elections, the Nigerian people have come to commence a campaign that the elections must hold. If it was in the realms of speculation before now, the proverbial wind has exposed the hind place of the Obasanjo fowl. The bid to truncate the electoral process has now come out in the pen, even if the Obasanjo entourage is still using subterfuge.

The Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 edition of the most Nigerian newspapers carried the report that the Attorney General of the Federation will be meeting with the Chief Justice of the Federation and the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the April elections. The report went further that the proposed meeting was at the instance of the National Council of States, and that push had been initiated by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

What is unfolding before our eyes is that Obasanjo is enlisting the support of a constitutional institution like the National Council of States, to literally commit a treasonable act; but always clever by a half, he wants to get a legal cover for the act. What was the explanation offered for the meeting? In the words of Attorney General Bayo Ojo, “for example, INEC said from the 12th of March and April 12th. It will come up with list of candidates and they have to print about 100 million ballot papers”. So what? Any patriot might ask.

Ojo provided the answer: “the time frame is too short. The logistics gives cause for concern (REALLY?)”. He went further that there are 50 parties which means that at every polling booth, there are going to be 50 party agents, so “that’s too much, it is a cause for concern (BUT FOR WHOM?)”. The INEC had four years since 2003 to prepare for the election, and even when well-meaning Nigerians were expressing worries about the preparedness of the electoral body to hold credible elections, the arrogant Professor Maurice Iwu and his spin doctors, were busy abusing civil society groups or financing advertorials in Nigerian newspapers, threatening all kinds of consequences against whoever raised points against the activities of INEC.

The planning for elections which ordinarily should have been in the open, and which ought to have been the example of transparency and open to citizen contributions, under professor Iwu, has been treated like some form of state secret. This situation was created when the electoral body began to behave as if it was at war with the broad mass of stakeholders interested in ensuring that the 2007 elections did not leave room for the type of massive rigging which Obasanjo perpetrated in 2003. The consequence has been disastrous for Nigeria at every level of development.

Even the blind could see through the posturing and terminological inexactitude that characterized the aggressive defensiveness of Professor Maurice Iwu. He knew best in electoral matters, the way that his boss, Obasanjo knows best in everything else; nobody can or should suggest ideas because Iwu alone knows how to deliver elections and civil society groups in particular were a meddlesome nuisance that our electoral all-knowing Professor could very well do without or appropriately put in their place. He enjoys grandstanding, he is the master and nobody else’s views mattered, except maybe those of Obasanjo. So it is obviously a mischievous climb down to now begin to proclaim a logistic nightmare as a problem needing some legal interventions, for which Obasanjo needed the backing of the National Council of States to kick start, using the Attorney General, Nigerians must wear our thinking caps and begin a return journey to the trenches of resistance. Obasanjo is determined to carry out another act of subversion of our national constitutional order.

Last week, a distinguished Senator visited our Editorial Board to give us background information on political developments in the country. He confirmed to us that the National Assembly was divided in respect of the plans by Obasanjo to shift the handover date from May to October 2007. The argument is that the presidency is working on members of the National Assembly to accept that elections planning are shoddy. The background would therefore necessitate the shift of handover date to October 2007.

There are deep issues of intrigues in the polity, with the PDP apparatchik also worried that that the governors that lost out in the presidential primaries are lukewarm in their support for Umar Yar’Adua. Furthermore, it seemed true that despite denials, attempts have been made or the idea has been contemplated to even drop Yar’Adua as the PDP’s presidential candidate, as part of the elaborate political manipulation going on. There was the added fact that some aggrieved political tendencies were also trying to push the Senate to look at the option of impeachment of the president and his deputy, an act that would lead to the deferment of the elections. It is similarly noteworthy that the anti third term camp has become divided and it is reported that even many of them might not oppose the plan to shift the handover date from May to October 2007.

Just about two weeks ago, one of the Lagos newspapers reported that Abike  Dabiri of the House of Representatives had told a forum that the National Assembly has been divided along three lines, namely those opposed to it and those that have so far not committed themselves one way or the other. Incredible as it might be, this is where Obasanjo’s desperate desire to remain in power has landed Nigeria. But just as we defeated the third term agenda, we must build a huge national coalition to defeat whatever legal mumbo jumbo would be manufactured to justify the elongation of Obasanjo’s stay in power by even an extra day, beyond May 29th, 2007. Nigeria is not a banana republic, we have not been re-colonized and Obasanjo will NEVER, NEVER, EVER be allowed to toy with our fate. We are totally fed up with him and are merely tolerating him, with the hope that after May 2007, he would meet his fate in the nation’s judicial system for all the crimes he has perpetrated since 1999. But he has the audacity to enlist the National Council of States in his perfidy!

The issues are clear. No matter what, the elections MUST hold in April 2007 and Obasanjo MUST GO by May 29th, 2007; he should vacate Aso Villa for a newly elected president. INEC had four years to prepare for the elections, and i was reminded by a member of our Editorial Board, Honorable Edoaga, that there was no preparation that INEC can make in six months for new elections, which it did not make in four years. If we fall into the trap that Obasanjo has carefully constructed for Nigeria, and we allow them to shift the handover date from May 29th, 2007 to October, we should be prepared to lose our democratic process. Obasanjo will construct other red herrings to ensure that he stays in power beyond October 2007.

What is the “logistics(that) gives cause for concern” which Bayo Ojo, the Attorney General was talking about? Has he  or other members of the government seen size of ballot papers used for Indian elections before? They are often very unwieldy because they cater for a multiplicity of national, states and local political parties. But because there is a genuine wiipower to achieve democratic governance, India continued to print those massive ballot papers for its elections. No mention of some dubious “logistic concerns” which they did not or could not envisage for four years, until a few weeks to elections. Now that know that there are fifty parties(as if it was not they that registered them); they are just realizing that time is too short to print 100 million ballot papers. NO WAY, ELECTIONS MUST HOLD IN…

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