Like every Deltan, I followed the re-run elections of 6th October very closely. I did this for two main reasons; the first of this is because I am from that state and secondly because I wanted to see the much promised attitudinal change by INEC as told by Professor Attahiru Jega and President Jonathan Goodluck.
One can also argue, using a broad brush stroke approach, that the Delta state election re-run was ultimately a test of the integrity of President Jonathan Goodluck after all his declaration for the Presidency speech on September 18 2010 was littered with promises of free and fair elections. On that day President Jonathan said “I pledge once again to all the people of this nation that they will have a free and fair election”.
The little hope I had for a free and fair election in Delta state started to ebb away following the refusal of INEC to defer the election from 6th January till after a new voters register had been produced, the fear was that the old register was not reliable. But for reasons best known to him, and which will later become obvious, Professor Jega refused to change the date even though January 6th was only about 60 days into the 90 days deadline given by the Court of Appeal.
It is not the intention of this write up to examine the decision of the court to allow Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, a direct beneficiary of the previously rigged election, to re-contest. But under normal circumstances, election rigging is considered a crime and should be punished appropriately. And so why the court offered him a carrot instead of a stick is in my opinion quite puzzling. Well did I hear you say that is Nigeria for you?
Before continuing I will want to take you back very quickly to another promise made by President Jonathan during his declaration, on that day President Jonathan said “Let all the kidnappers, criminal elements, and miscreants that give us a bad name be ready for the fight that I shall give them. Let the ordinary Nigerian be assured that President Jonathan will have zero tolerance for corruption”. The Delta election re-run was a perfect opportunity to face the criminal elements who have looted Delta state for the previous eleven years. Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan was a right hand man of Chief James Ibori who is currently waiting in a Dubai prison to be extradited to the UK to face charges of looting Delta state. It should be noted that Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan was mentioned in court papers as an active participant in the looting of the state and it is for this reason that the man has not set foot in the UK in the last couple of years because he knows he would be arrested if he visits. EFCC forced Ibori to flee Nigeria for Dubai and everybody knows that EFCC wouldn’t have moved against Ibori without the go ahead from President Jonathan. Truth be told I was elated when EFCC went after Ibori President Jonathan scored some brownie points in my book by that singular act.
As mentioned above, Dr Uduaghan was a key figure in the Ibori regime and any attempt to separate them is an exercise in futility. Ibori himself, as alleged by a newspaper said from far away Dubai that any vote for Uduaghan is a vote for him. I was filled with hope that President Jonathan would consider the fact that the duo of Ibori and Dr Uduaghan had looted Delta state for over 11 years. I was also encouraged that because EFFC was prosecuting Ibori, there was no way President Jonathan would turn round and support Uduaghan after all one cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time. Jonathan cannot on one hand prosecute Ibori and then make him Governor by proxy at the same time I told myself; I was very wrong
At the Warri stadium on 4th January 2011 when the body parts of the victims of the Jos and Abuja bombings were still been gathered, President Jonathan plumbed to new depths when he publicly endorsed and danced for Dr Uduaghan, he said and I quote “We need him. We want him and we will work with him. This is no time for toddlers… I am optimistic that on January 6, Uduaghan is going back to the Government House to continue with the good work he had started in the state”. Not a word about integrity, not even a whimper about the Billions of Naira that had been fritted away by Dr Uduaghan and Ibori. President Jonathan had on that day, metaphorically speaking, given Deltans the middle finger. He proved he would deal with anybody, even the devil, to get that prized PDP ticket.
Just to be clear, President Jonathan could and would have been forgiven if he had after dancing for Uduaghan at the Warri stadium ensued that Deltans were allowed to exercise their rights as enshrined in the constitution. Deltans were not asking for special favors from the President, all we wanted was to be allowed the opportunity to elect a Governor of our choice. What happened in Delta was unacceptable, some may argue that INEC “tried” and “it was an improvement”, all that is hog wash in my opinion. What transpired on 6th January in Delta is no different from the INEC under Maurice Iwu. If anything Iwu did a better job in Anambra than Jega has done in Delta. President Jonathan has proven that he is cut from the same dirty and rotten clothe as the other politicians who have emasculated our wishes before now.
Most of the reports from Delta paint a harrowing story, violence, ballot box snatching, intimidation and outright stealing of votes. An old woman, as reported by one of the papers best captured the mood when she said all they wanted was an election but they have been given death instead, she was reported as saying that for the sake of peace, they don’t want elections anymore. Can anyone blame her? The Jonathan Government and PDP have behaved true to form, there is no way anyone with a modicum of truth and decency can say that the elections were a true reflection of the will of Deltans. Election rigging is the civilians answer to military coups, it is a subjugation of the will of the people and if Delta was a test, President Jonathan failed it woefully. He cannot even claim to be unaware of what transpired. By this failure, President Jonathan has simply helped hold down Delta state so that Ibori and Uduaghan can rape her for another four years.