One of the most difficult things to do is selling logic to someone who is fired by emotions and this is where the big problem lies in our politics today.
When the Congress for Progressive change (CPC) on Friday 6th May filed a notice on behalf of its Presidential candidate Gen Muhamadu Buhari at the Presidential Election Tribunal, seeking access to election materials and seeking the nod of the tribunal to allow the party bring forensic experts to analyse the votes, both the General and his party thought they had a very clear idea of what they wanted to achieve.
But this may not actually be, as President Goodluck Jonathan and his own Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had also made clear their stand that the only way to scuttle Buhari’s latest onslaught is to assemble points and facts that would not only nullify Buhari’s claims, but also show that his over 12 million votes were garnered through untoward means.
Funny enough, both sides have similar mindset with a common theme newly introduced in the act of rigging or rather un-rigging of elections in Nigerian politics: “forensic interpretation.”
The case: INEC had declared Jonathan of the PDP who polled 22,495,187 votes as the winner of the election. He defeated his closest rival the CPC candidate, Buhari who polled 12, 214, 853 votes.
The CPC is asking for the nullification of results in 20 states where it alleged substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and other irregularities.
The states include: Lagos, Bayelsa, Kaduna, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Kwara, Adamawa, Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu and Cross River, Rivers, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo Anambra, Benue and Plateau states as well as the FCT.
It should be noted that contrary to Gen Buhari’s earlier declared stand on challenging the outcome of the presidential election, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), on which platform he contested the election, still went ahead to file an application before the Presidential Election Tribunal sitting at the Court of Appeal, Abuja demanding for some sensitive materials used during the poll from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
There are serious issues here: What makes Buhari and his party think that INEC will exactly seal the data capture machines and ballot papers used in the alleged fraud and stupidly hand them over to the CPC to use at the tribunal to prove that the same INEC who is the major defendant in the case committed fraud?
Has the CPC presidential candidate considered the likely implications of statements or rather claims credited to him only two hours into voting on April 16 on an international broadcast medium alleging that election was being rigged with the aid of in-built softwares (“Excel”) computer programmed to slice off tangible part of the cumulative votes given to the CPC.
The former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, in the United States, while the results of the presidential election were being collated, was reported as saying that the PDP rigged and that he was reeling out unofficial figures to the international community, even while the electoral body had not announced the results.
How is the CPC going to prove the computer programming allegation because it is a known fact that the elections across the country were done manually and not electronically.
It is a known fact in this country that mischief a major preoccupation of the human mind, has been perfected by the words: politics and politicians. What makes the CPC think that their opponents may not go all out to show that the CPC cried foul to divert attention so as to provide avenue for its men to manipulate the process. This time we will not be looking for forensics but call or rather attention-divert experts.
And supposing the ruling party alleges that the declarations by el-Rufai and Buhari were evidence that the CPC tampered with the system and got undue advantage over the PDP?
You see that the entire drama is becoming very interesting.
Let’s look at the other side: As reported, the PDP’s mindset is that “We are not only out to defend that suit, but also to defend our votes and the mandate clearly given to us by Nigerians. We are equally out to show the world that our opponent (Buhari/CPC) gained the votes ascribed to them through untoward means including underage voting, religious and ethnic intimidation of voters, and thuggery through physical assault on many PDP members in CPC strongholds” in addition to what the party referred to as “direct fraud.”
According to the PDP, “Our intention is to weed out all votes of underaged persons in the CPC votes. They have a preponderance of this in states we have marked out and we intend to get his votes reduced to about six million.”
Agreed that there were underage voters captured on camera in the alleged areas, the question is: Who registered those boys and girls to vote? It was neither CPC’s nor Buhari’s responsibility to register voters.
So except INEC can prove that it did not in the first instance register any underage voters in those areas, the question will be how did those young people got the voters’ cards? Were they given by politicians who did multiple registrations or were they actually registered to vote despite the fact that most of them shown on television were well below 17 years?
If PDP goes ahead to prove it, then Prof Jega and whatever efforts he thought he has made right from registration to voting would be terribly messed up. And this is where the case will be very interesting because INEC cannot afford to just fold their hands and watch Buhari and his people rubbish both Jega and the entire commission.
If either or both sides can establish fraud in the election, the only option would be for INEC to cancel it and order a re-run. Whichever way, monies that could have been used to affect the lives of the Nigerian masses would be used to fund the new election and of course everybody knows what the result will still be as INEC would want to prove a point.
There’s one good thing about the forthcoming forensic fight between Buhari and Jonathan/INEC.
The use of the Forensic/Biometric system based on INEC’s capturing of all the 10 fingers of every voter is a novel idea that can help solve the challenges of multiple voting and outright concoction of results; two critical issues in our electoral malpractices. But the big problem is the human intelligence aspect of it. And the will power to be honest.
Who is going to sit at the tribunal? Nigerians. Who is going to appoint members of the jury? Nigerians. Who is going to verify whatever claims/results the foreign forensic experts are going to come out with? Nigerians. Who provides the raw data for the experts to work with? A Nigerian. And the most interesting aspect is that all these appointments, analysis and interpretations of data revolve around one person who also happens to be a party to the naked dance of the witches.
You see, at the end, it all melts down to nothing but a sterile academic adventure draining billions of Naira that could have been used to give meaning to the lives of millions of the “almanjiri” and “drunken fishermen” supporters of this two big witches. Let us begin to think right.
IFEANYI IZEZE IS AN ABUJA-BASED CONSULTANT ON STRATEGY AND COMMUNICATION ([email protected])