THE DO-OR-DIE BATTLE DRAWS NEAR

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When President Obasanjo announced the other day that the 2007 elections were a “do-or-die” affair for him, not a few  Nigerians, especially in the political elite and amongst commentators, were alarmed at such an unpresidential frame of mind.But Obasanjo was being dead-pan  honest about what the elections mean to him and members of his entourage; they either nick the electionsby hook or crook, or they are dead, literally and politically!

Obasanjo may be pitied or may be reviled, but what is most important and most profitable is to understand his actions, the basis of his often unguarded statements and place them in the context of the unfolding events in our country a few weeks to the elections. If you read this page last week, you would recall that we posted a postscript which summarized the build-up to the elections, and the institutional responses of the most critical agencies to the delivery of elections, whether credible or not, whether free or fettered, whether transparent or otherwise; the INEC and the police. The verdict was clearly that INEC is battle ready” to deliver an election that will satisfy Obasanjo’s do-or-die stance, while leaving the Nigerian people completely dazed, rather like a beautiful maiden that received the unsolicited visit of serial rapists.

It  has become clear that all along, professor Maurice Iwu’s INEC was part of a grand agenda to deliver an electoral process to the satisfaction of the PDP and Obasanjo without much respect for the wishes of the Nigerian people. Let us take the banning of candidates by INEC; it has been declared illegal by the courts , condemned by learned lawyers and is very unpopular with the Nigerian people. But Obasanjo’s will has been done, therefore, for Maurice Iwu, nothing else really matters.

Last week, some newspapers carried an advertorial from the Ngige campaign organization which asserted that professor Maurice Iwu constantly requests the congregation of his of his church to pray for the success of his alleged mentor, Andy Uba, as governor of  Anambra State. As the advertisement pointe out there was nothing wromg in asking God’s assistance, but it comes worrisome to play God. It is an interesting coincidence that every candidate that could defeat the anointed son of Obasanjo has been disqualified from the contest,thus clearing the coast for the controversial Andy Uba. Those who know understand that Andy Uba’s place after 2007 is one of the strongest pillars of do-and-die” politics for Obasanjo. Andy Uba is too central to be closeted world of Obasanjo’s affairs and he must earn the immunuity which governorship confers, therefore, no stone must be left unturned. This is the  rational explanation for the disqualification of popular candidates who would have decisively defeated the minder of presidential idiosyncracrasies, Andy Uba.

So while Iwu’s INEC has continued to sing from Obasanjo’s hymn book by refusing to obey court orders and banning candidate sin tune with the master’s will, he nevertheless mischievously told the House of Representatives that candidates in court over their disqualification could go to the electoral tribunals later. What a candidate whose name did not appear on the ballot paper in the first place would be doing at the electoral tribunal is best left to the lawyers. It seemed that Iwu was being clever by half in that and other matters that relate to the preparations for the elections.

Nigerians have become understandably skeptical about the lead to the elections because it has not only been mired  in controversy,it is also suffering a deficit of sincerity.

Loominglargein the do-or-dieambienceof electioneering is the violence that has become recurrent around the country: from Sokototo Gombe, Ondo to Benue, and Lagos to Oyo; ascenario of insecurity and broken limbs have become a necessary ingredient of consolidating the do-or-die platform. InOgun State, Obasanjo’s supporters and thugs have broken a few skulls in order to pacify the Ogun Central Senatorial district sufficiently to be able to achieve a result in the polls that will meet Obasanjo’s expectations. A feeling of deja vu is in the air; last Sunday,March 18, 2007,the former Chief of Army Staff, General Victor Malu, gave an interview to SUNDAY SUN newspaper during which he reminded us of the way that Obasanjo and the PDP stole the 2003 elections. In 2003, the PDP regime rigged the elections the with the help of the military. What happened was that before the close of polls, a vehicle, either from the Government House or any  the official vehicles,will arrive at the polling booth with armed soldiers, air force, immigration or customs, they’ ll start to fire in the air. There would be pandemonium and the delegates will run away. These armed people will collect all the polling materials, take them to wherever they wanted, do whatever they wantedwith them before they will resurface many hours after ballot boxes (have) already been stuffed.That was the experience in Benuewhere I come from”. It is clear that a dress rehearsal is taking place in the build- up to April 2007 in the spirit of Obasanjo’s do- or-die, “are we sure that these elections are really on the cards given the depth of crises built into the process leading to them? What might be the likely consequences of the various court cases on the conduct of the elections, especially because of the recent warnings from INEC of what follows court verdicts on April 10th on an election  scheduled  for April 14th ? Will the security situation allow us vote without henchmen coming to shoot in the air as in 2003? What is the position in respect of a shortfall in the number of Direct Data Capture machines? How does INEC hope to cover 120,000 polling units with only 35,000 machines? The puzzle gets ever so tough to unravel, the days are counting, and the people are sceptical and are thoroughly fed up with their situation while Obasanjo girds his loin to do or to die.

In the meantime,Nigeria lies prostrate at the mercy of the deepening incompetence of the outgoing regime: power supply is worse now than at anytime since 1999; insecurity is rife all over the country; roads remain impassable across Nigeria and the discontentment with the regime worsens every day. Given the situation, Obasanjo should not even be showing his face in the electioneering process; yet he struts all over the place, dominates his party’s rallies and reminds us that it is do-or-die.A few weeks to the day,the thunderous rumble of the approaching monster of do-or-die is already deafening the nation’s political spaces. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for war, because Obasanjo, the PDP, INEC and the security forces are battle ready; do-or-die is knocking on the door.

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