By now, the more discerning Nigerian should have realised that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government is not interested in creating the enabling environment for conducting even a semblance of free and fair elections. Instead, it is just interested in getting its way by hook or by crook. It is not interested in deepening the democratic space it inherited, rather it craves to constrict it. It has no respect for the rule of law and civil liberties, instead it prioritises national interest (subject to its own interpretation) over and above the rule of law. It is going about all these in a relentlessly ruthless and desperate manner. Its behaviour poses a growing risk and danger to the practice and sustenance of democracy in this country.
The party’s recently held primaries and convention revealed beyond a shadow of a doubt its fraudulent intention to rig the 2019 elections. Every right-thinking and discerning Nigerian should have seen through the elaborate and brazen rigging scheme concocted by the APC during the primaries. We must resist it now before it’s too late. If we stay complacent, then we’ll suffer the perils later. This is why we must interrogate the actions of the party and its leaders to make sure they conform to democratic standards, otherwise we will all have ourselves to blame for what is to come if they succeed in rigging the vote with those outlandish membership figures they had peddled to a vulnerable segment of the society just to cling to power. We must expose and scatter the foundations of what would amount to the biggest electoral fraud in Nigeria’s history. We must take back our country from these clueless, lying propagandists and anti-democratic forces hell-bent on plunging Nigeria into the abyss. You see, Buhari has repeatedly marvelled and expressed surprise that Jonathan gave up power easily after his defeat. Could his surprise be a hint that he will not accept defeat if he loses in 2019? Buhari is not a fit and proper person to lead Nigeria, but no one should be under any illusion that he and his party will concede defeat like former President Goodluck Jonathan did in 2015. And going by the seeming desperation of his party – the brazen stealing of Osun and Ekiti votes, I get the jitters that the people we are dealing with are far more ruthless, dangerous and don’t give a hoot about anything other than staying in power and enjoying the perks without working for the good of country. They are increasingly jittery about the fate that would befall them because they know they cannot win a free and fair presidential election. All their actions thus far are geared towards protecting their interests at the expense of the country.
While the momentum building against Buhari’s reelection is good, media reports that states in his core orbit had recorded 100 per cent PVC collection do not give anything to cheer about. How can that be possible? The truth is, it betrayed an elaborate plan to cling on to power. For all who wish Nigeria well, their plan to rig must not be allowed to bear fruits because another four years of Buhari will kill Nigeria.
In September, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole in an interview published by the Vanguard newspaper, claimed the party had 15.6 million members. How could this be? The then APC acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena, had also claimed the spike was as a result of the aggressive sensitisation and mobilisation of the people, especially party members. Can anyone recall when this took place? How did the APC carry out this mobilisation? Who were the agents, what were the selling points used to woo new members?
Of that figure, the party claimed 14.8 million members affirmed President Buhari’s sole candidacy for the 2019 presidential election. This means over 90 per cent of the figure they peddled as the registered membership figure of the party voted for President Buhari during the direct primaries. That was simply alarming and appeared to create an alibi to rig the 2019 presidential election. It is most improbable that a party whose poor performance is daily diminishing its support base would claim such a steep rise in membership registration in three and a half years. This is political malpractice taken too far. As important as citizens’ involvement is, cultivating citizens’ membership has never been a priority of our party system. For the record, many enthusiastic party supporters in Nigeria are NOT card-carrying members of the parties they support, because the foundation of the parties and the way they are run are fundamentally defective. Since the advent of democracy, cultivating citizens into parties’ membership has never been an important consideration of the party structure. So on the basis of what did the APC suddenly have such staggering membership figures? The party must know that it cannot white-wash failure with propaganda.
I state here without equivocation that the membership figures were rigged. It appeared to be a prelude to a much larger rigging in the works in next year’s election.
Closely connected with that was Oshiomhole’s revealing boast sometime ago when he reportedly said: “The instruments of electoral manipulation had shifted base and are now in the hands of the APC.” And they have made good that boast in Ekiti and Osun States.
It’s noteworthy that the 15.6 million membership claim came on the heels of repeated boast by some APC governors led by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano (who was caught on video receiving dollar bribe from contractors) and senior party leaders to deliver astonishing number of votes to ensure Buhari’s victory in 2019. In the last presidential primary in Kano, Ganduje purportedly delivered 2.9 million votes to Buhari as the sole candidate of the APC. In next year’s presidential election, he had earlier promised to deliver five million votes. Akin Osuntokun drew attention to this dangerous fraud in the making recently in his piece, ‘The Poisoned Chalice’. But few people appeared to have taken notice. Even the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not taken up the gauntlet to drag the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court to show how these outlandish figures could have been obtained. It should call for a forensic audit of the numbers. This was how Osuntokun put it: “It is the same fait accompli strategy at work in the recent declaration of upwards of three million votes as the number of votes cast for Buhari at the APC presidential primary in Kano and another one million votes in Katsina State. The Kano State model of bumper harvest of votes for Buhari was first deployed in the 2015 presidential election wherein the number of votes returned for candidate Buhari tallied exactly with the accredited voter figure of two million votes beating the record of the advanced democracies which never recorded 100% voter compliance at any stage of the voting process. The Kano State ploy continued this year, first with the ballooning of registered voters by upwards of 100% followed by the feat of almost another 100% Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) collection rate. To get an idea of how improbable is this feat – there is hardly any other state (other than the predominantly far North Muslim states) with 60% PVC reclamation rate. If three million votes were attributed to Buhari at the party primaries, why then would we not be conditioned to expect and accept as credible a return of four million votes to the same ostensible crowd puller in the 2019 election?”
This is precisely what is going on – to impose on Nigerians a fait accompli of votes to Buhari’s advantage and an alibi to back it up. Ganduje wants to deliver 5 million votes, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina has promised 2.5 million votes, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has promised to double the 2015 Kogi’s vote for Buhari in 2019.
The scores released by the APC indicated that votes were cast and counted in all the states and the FCT as published by Daily Trust are as follows: Abia, 43,308; Adamawa, 263,945; Akwa Ibom, 140,822; Anambra, 248,268; Bauchi, 316,199; Bayelsa, 210,201; Benue, 259,130; Borno, 466,601; Cross River, 145,615; Ebonyi, 157,455; Edo, 505,827; Ekiti, 199,724; Enugu, 17,291; Gombe, 112,857; Imo, 115,830; Jigawa, 202,597; Kaduna, 597,209; Kano, 2,931,335; Katsina, 802,819; Kebbi, 210,687; Kogi, 387,003; Kwara, 159, 822; Lagos, 2,272,722; Nasarawa, 110,879; Niger, 387,097; Ogun, 586,453; Ondo, 436,968; Osun, 512,013; Oyo, 421,200; Plateau, 123,073; Rivers, 388,653; Sokoto, 313,091; Taraba, 139,102; Yobe, 199,414; Zamfara, 247,847; and FCT, 54,128. There was a significant difference between the number of votes the president got in states in the 2015 presidential election and what he got during the recent primaries. The most striking for instance were Kano, Borno and Lagos, etc. Buhari got 1,903,999 votes in Kano during the 2015 presidential election when both party and non-party members voted but surprisingly, he got 2,931,235 votes in the last party primary. He got 473,543 votes in Borno State during the 2015 election but received a whopping 1,226,181 during the just concluded primaries in a state still battling insecurity and hunger with hundreds of thousands of its people marooned in IDP camps. How did it manage to pull off such staggering numbers?
Going by the figures released by the party, Buhari, in the primary in which only APC members purportedly voted scored 14.8 million votes, almost equalling the 15,426,921 votes obtained by the president in the last election where both members of the APC and none members voted in a national election. With these numbers, Buhari purportedly received in the APC presidential affirmation, these vote thieves had just sent us a latent message that they have won the 2019 vote even before the election. I can bet an arm and a leg, the APC would add the 14.8 million affirmation figure by its members alone to the votes of none members across the country as evidence of a Buhari win.
Nigerians and particularly, the opposition PDP should pay particular attention to Kano, the epicentre of election rigging in 2015. We must interrogate the numbers coming from Kano. We know for a fact that the 2015 Kano election register was massively rigged. Now, that rigged number has doubled in four years? Wait a minute – and all the registered voters have collected their PVCs when we still have close to four months to the election? No one died in Kano, nobody relocated or travelled, etc. in the intervening period? This must be the miracle of the century. But as alarming as these numbers were, there was no whimper of protest from our so-called pro-democracy and human rights activists. Many of these APC supporters condone corruption, impunity and election rigging when these vices are committed by the APC but react with consternation and condemnation when the same vices are committed by other parties. Listen to some of these people defend the indefensible, and you wonder whether they have lost their minds. For example, there is no outrage from these activists in media about the Ganduje bribery scandal. Some sick people are even trying to defend it with some lame excuses. I am just baffled beyond belief.
The truth is that the staggering numbers coming from Kano are a product of underage registration and direct allocation of votes by the INEC in cahoots with the APC. Don’t forget this state is notorious for allowing child-voters in elections. Anyone who does not see that Governor Ganduje is already on the trajectory to delivering on his promise of 5 million votes must be the fool of the century.
Now let’s come to Lagos, which delivered 2,272,722 votes to affirm Buhari’s candidacy in the recent coronation convention. How could Lagos have delivered such numbers other than a fraudulent allocation of figures? In the 2015 presidential election, Buhari scored 792,460 votes in Lagos to beat then-President Jonathan of the PDP who scored 632,327. In other words, the combined votes of Buhari and Jonathan in the 2015 election, which stood at 1,424787 million was far less than 2,272,722 million scored by Buhari in the recent primary in Lagos. This was remarkable! Again, let’s look at it this way: In three years of poor performance in office with all the clannishness and nepotism on display, with herdsmen’s murderous reign, and the tacit support given to them by Buhari’s government, the bandied number of APC supporters who affirmed support for Buhari in the primary in Lagos nearly tripled the entire votes he got in the state in 2015. How could this be? A bird’s eye view of election demographics, Buhari’s scores in the 2015 election vis-à-vis the figures that were allocated to him in the APC primaries revealed that the primary was massively rigged for Mr “Integrity” as a prelude to rigging 2019. And the man many claim is a man of integrity accepted the fraudulent figures. Something must be wrong with their meaning of integrity. God knows, in the fullness of time, we shall hold the defenders of the current impunity accountable.