By Emmanuel Onwubiko
A novice won a legislative seat somewhere in Kwara State but she did so under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State faced one of the fiercest contests in the year 2023 election season. The loyalists of erstwhile Senate President Senator Bukola Saraki gave the APC-led State administration a fight for their money. However, emerging results are showing that the All Progressives Congress is having the upper hand. The leader of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party Bukola Saraki has however maintained dignified silence.
That Kwara scenario is one aspect of the election that is certainly something to be joyful about in the estimation of millions of youths.
In Kaduna State, something happened during the Presidential and national legislative assembly poll which marked that election as a watershed, in the minds of the people of Kaura federal constituency.
The phenomenon in Kaduna, precisely in the Southern section of that erstwhile Northern regional capital, was that the resurgent labour party featured one of the struggling youths who is out of gainful government funded employment but was simply surviving doing ‘kabukabu’ or Okada ( Commercial motorcyclist) in Kaura local government. But he defeated the Federal parliamentarian of the Peoples Democratic Party who was seeking the sixth term to return to the lower legislative chamber in Abuja. It is like the fight between David and Golliat.
That political success of the Kaura giant killer also represents another talking point out of this 2023 general election. But wait for the biggest talking point.
Perhaps, what may linger for long as a talking point of significance is the confession or revelation by erstwhile transportation minister and former Rivers State’s governor Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. Amaechi is of the All Progressives Congress-same as the party that the Independent National Electoral Commission controversially returned its Presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President-elect.
Amaechi, it would be recalled, was a kitchen cabinet member of the incumbent presidency of Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress until he resigned voluntarily to seek the presidential flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He was so sure or so it seemed then of winning the Presidential primary so much so that he spent a whooping N100 million to purchase the nomination for of his party.
Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi was one of the only three then Presidential aspirants to the Presidency under APC that toured the entire Nigerian political space campaigning.
He invested substantial and humongous amounts of cash and human resources in that campaign to become APC’s presidential flag bearer.
The other aspirants in that race were the Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the godfather of South West politics. These three out of over 50 persons that bought the expensive forms, actually campaigned. The rest did put up ‘spurious’ and at best cameo appearances as aspirants even when it was clear that they were pretending. The Presidential primary could’ve actually swing to any of the three due to intensive lobbying that went on internally.
The lobbying became an open secret when the National leadership of APC signposted by the National Chairman elected to nominate Ahmed Lawan in its inner caucus as consensus candidate. This drew the ire of Tinubu who fought back viciously and reminded President Muhammadu Buhari how he, Bola Ahmed Tinubu practically annointed Buhari and worked to see him win in 2015 and 2019.
However, Northern governors of APC insisted that power must go back to Southern Nigeria- thus favouring Tinubu who was virtually the only Southerner of significance alongside Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi still vying for that juicy slot of the official Presidential candidate of the political party in power -APC.
On the morning of the dollar denominated party primary elections in which billions of dollars must have been spent, many aspirants who never campaigned stepped down for Ahmed Tinubu.
But Ahmed Lawan, Rotimi Amaechi, Bola Tinubu and few others contested and in a very ‘transparent’ or rather make belief election, Bola Ahmed Tinubu won.
What is of interest to this writer is not the general election proper because the story of how the actual result was stolen and donated by INEC to the All Progressives Congress is notorious and so bears no repeating.
The shocking phenomenon about the 2023 poll is the shocking revelation just made by Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who all the while contested but failed to become the APC candidate for the presidency.
He came a decent second to the winner. But Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi disappeared from politics only to reappear within a few days to the March 18th governorship poll to canvass support for his political Godson in Rivers State in the All Progressives Congress. Unfortunately for Amaechi, Wike of the PDP secretly entered a negotiated agreement with Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ‘work’ for Tinubu to win Rivers State abd then for APC in Rivers State governorship to be sabotaged from above. That was what played out ultimately as Wike undermined Labour Party which won Rivers State in the Presidential poll but using some security personnel, the original result of the Presidential election in Rivers State was manipulated to railroad the unknown Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner in Rivers State. That unholy communion between Wike and Tinubu has now opened the Pandora box which has been unleashed by Chibuike Amaechi.
His public confession on how All Progressives Congress hijacked INEC came because Mr. Amaechi’s choice was pitted against the incumbent governor Nyesom Wike who reached a secret deal with Tinubu which then exterminated any chances of Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi ever winning the governorship of Ricers State through his proxy who ran against Wike’s lackey in the PDP.
Wike was Amaechi’s erstwhile chief of staff when Amaechi was Chief Executive/ Governor of Rivers State.
But the two fell aside before the 2015 poll in which Wike defeated Amaechi’s candidate and became Rivers State governor for eight years and will be rounding up in a few weeks.
Here is the question before we quote Amaechi fully. Why did Rotimi Amaechi conceal the vital information which if true shows that INEC Chairman Yakubu Mahmood was ab-initio not qualified to oversee the presidential poll because of his political affinity to Tinubu –who eventually was declared the winner under very contentious circumstances? Why keep silent about the evil you knew all this while but o lying to shout when that evil has come bavk to hurt you like the bite of the poisonous snake in the thick forests?
We will return to discuss that but first let’s read Amaechi’s belated confession which has finally nailed the coffin inthe integrity of INEC (if true).
Former Minister of Transportation and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has recently revealed that a member of the camp of the President-elect, Senator Bola Tinubu, nominated the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, for his reappointment for a second term.After voting in his hometown, Ubima Ward 8 Unit 14, Amaechi expressed dissatisfaction with the polling, decrying what he called a total failure of governance in Nigeria.
He stated that his party did not contest against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state but against the INEC and the police.According to him, Yakubu also worked with the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, when the Rivers governor was the Minister of State for Education with the INEC boss as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
“There is a total failure of governance in the country – complete failure. Police are helping PDP to arrest APC members and SDP members.“Gongs are being beaten about in the whole communities asking people who will not vote PDP not to come or they would be beaten. People are being beaten, the governor (Wike) has declared people wanted, and nobody has spoken.
“The governor has no right to declare anybody wanted. The IG (Inspector General of Police) is doing nothing, and nobody is doing anything – complete failure. There is voter apathy in Rivers. Nobody wants to come out because people are scared.“INEC is a complete failure. There are those of us who opposed the reappointment of Yakubu Mahmood. The person who nominated him is a member of Tinubu’s camp. So what are you expecting?
“Here in Rivers State, Mahmood worked under Wike as Executive Secretary of TETFund; so what you are having in Rivers is that APC and other parties are contesting, not against PDP, but against INEC, against police.”Speaking earlier on ARISE NEWS Channel, Amaechi had narrated how Wike instigated the arrest of many members of the opposition political parties on election day, and declared many others wanted, wondering where he derived the powers to declare people wanted.
He noted that the actions of the Rivers State governor was because of the total failure of governance in the country.However, Governor Wike, who was accredited at his Obio Akpor Ward 9 Unit 7 and voted at 11:16 am, said, “I can say they (INEC) have done very well, unlike what we had on 25 February. They have improved more than what we had in February.”
Amaechi’s confession shows that the 2023 general electionwas long bought and sold and therefore couldn’t have been credible, free fair, transparent. Little wonder that the BVAS was sabotaged from within to create the atmosphere for manual doctoring of the Presidential election.
This is what CREDIBLE EELECTION means: Collins English dictionary defines election as the act or instance of choosing. It is the selection by vote of a person or persons from among candidates for a position, especially a political office. Webb (2019) in Political science Britannica describes election as the formal process of selecting a person for public office or accepting or rejecting a political proposition by voting. It distinguishes between the form and substance of election. In some cases electoral forms are present but the substance of election is missing, as when voters do not have a free and genuine choice between at least two alternatives. Most countries hold elections in at least the formal sense, but in many of the countries, elections are not competitive (e.g., all but one party may be forbidden to contest) or the electoral situation is in other respects highly compromised.
Merloe (2009) in American Bar Association Journal argues that credible elections are characterized by inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and competitiveness.
Inclusive elections provide equal opportunity for all eligible citizens to participate as voters in selecting their representatives and as candidates for election into government.
Transparent elections exist when each step is open to scrutiny and stakeholders can independently verify whether the process is conducted honestly and accurately.
Accountability in elections refers to the rights of all citizens with respect to the conduct of other electoral stakeholders, including the government, Election Management Body (EMB), political parties, candidates and security forces. Elections are mechanisms through which citizens hold their government accountable but there must be accountability within the election process itself.
Competitive elections are in place when citizens have reasonable and equitable opportunities to compete to be elected to government offices. Political competition is a central component of elections that truly reflect the will of the people.
The principle of competitiveness relates to aspects of the election throughout the electoral cycle. The legal framework must allow citizens to come together and register political parties to represent their interest and provide access to spots on the ballot for parties and or candidates. Parties and candidates must be able to campaign and voters cast their ballots free from illegal influence, intimidation or violence. These salient points on credible election were gotten from the scholarly book called “CREDIBLE ELECTIONS IN UNITED STATES AND GHANA: LESSONS FOR NIGERIA”, recently authored BY EZIOKWU SAMUEL ANAYOCHUKWU, a Ph.D holder.
This writer is in no way doubting the confession of Amaechi because he is in a position to have all the top secrets of the All Progressives Congress that has had power for 8 years now. But the question is- why now? Ngozi Okonjo-Ivweala had once written about political corruption in Nigeria and how politics is such a deadly gambit in Nigeria. She almost got killed by rogue business persons doing dirty jobs with top people in power in Abuja. Her book is very instructive and confirms what Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi has just confessed about high wire politics from the seat of power in Abuja.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala wrote thus: “Nigeria is one of the most interesting countries in the world. It is energetic and sometimes chaotic, and its people are wonderfully entrepreneurial. Nigerian women are particularly enterprising. The actions of a small percentage of Nigeria’s population have given the country a bad name-one associated with corruption”.
She then stated: “But the overwhelming majority of Nigerians are honest, hardworking citizens who want what citizens elsewhere want-for their government to provide peace, stability, and basic services and then get out of their way so they can live their lives.”
She then disclose how her life was threatened when she was in a powerful political office but was blocking corrupt affiliates of top government officials. They told her-: “You will leave the office in a wheelchair.” Then her Mother was kidnapped and release after about a week.
She wrote that: “My mother’s ordeal was not the end of a frightened event that occurred in the late 2012 and early 2013. A few months after my mother escaped, I had wrapped up a meeting late one afternoon with some of my staff in my office and was taking a short break sipping a welcome cup of coffee, when my cell phone rang. It was again my brother Onyema. He sounded panicked. My first thought was that something else had gone wrong in the family. I braced myself as he frantically asked me, Where are you? Where are you? I was surprised and said I was in my office. he said I needed to immediately seek additional security, I must leave work early (my staff and I were notorious for working till very late at night effectively starting a third shift, as we called it, after the afternoon meetings) and I must vary my route of travel. I asked what’s wrong, and my brother told me a strange story.”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s brother told her the fearful story and she wrote it thus: “One of my brother’s old friends had called him to say that he had just left a secret meeting where the subject was how to inflict maximum physical damage on me, just short of killing me. The agreement reached at this meeting was to attack me in a way that I could end up paralysed and bound to a wheelchair and forced to leave the finance ministry. The meeting was held by a group of oil importers and marketers to whom the federal government “owed” money. It was held in the House of the chair of an owner of the oil com marketing companies. They were angry that I was withholding the subsidy payments that they thought were “owed” them for their refined petroleum imports.”
“Because my mother’s kidnapping had failed to force me to resign, their next action to force me out of the office was to attack and disable me. My brother’s friend participated in this meeting but felt what was being planned was unjust and cruel and I did not deserve it…” (Fighting Corruption is Dangerous the Story Behind the Headlines by Ngozi Okonjo-Ivweala).
The question again to Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi is- why did you conceal such a secret plot against democracy and the constitution, only to shout when your political interest is sabotaged? Can someone help us ask Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, please!
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.