Politics as they say, especially in Africa, is sometimes a game of betrayal, destruction of lives and properties, violence and do or die affairs. Because human beings are organically very selfish and brutal in nature unless otherwise controlled by morality and law. In view of this, Thomas Hobbes in his Social Contract Theory described life in such situations as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” and we cannot agree more with him if we compare the way politicians are handling/dealing with humans in this country.
As an independent observer who served as the Alliance for Credible Election (ACE) state coordinator in Kano and state mobilizer for Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC)/Situation Room, Jigawa state, I received a call on Friday 22nd of March, 2019 from the Acting Secretary of ACE Nigeria asking me about the possibility of our deploying some observers to monitor the just concluded 23rd Re-run in the state. I was so passionate about observation and full of hopes because of the sanity of the presidential and governorship elections we witnessed in the past few weeks. But I have read so many disturbing reports, listened to so many speeches by major political party officials in the state prior to the election which made me to become skeptical about it. I therefore responded to my madam telling her that “considering the exchange of words by leaders of the two major political parties, it will not be advisable to go near those rascals calling themselves politicians”. That was how we ended the conversation.
As the saying goes, it is only when you read history that you will know your past. Elections in Africa, especially in Nigeria from 1960 to date have been marred by violence, destruction of properties, killing of innocent people, ballot box snatching, voter inducement etc. In recent times, we have seen how elections in Rivers and other South South states had become do or die affairs where armed thugs, militants and security personnel were being used to win elections in peace or in pieces and thus stealing the mandate of the people in broad daylight. In 2018, similar incidents had happened in Osun state where the election was declared inconclusive, it gave the ruling party the opportunity to go back and re-strategize and find the best way possible to hijack the process, which they eventually did. This is not to say that it is only of recent that this ugly display of madness started happening in the country. In previous years, we have witnessed similar if not worse incidents.
On the 9th of March, 2019 the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is the highest umpire of the electoral processes in Nigeria conducted governorship and state House of Assemblies elections in the country. The elections in Kano were strange and Nigeria had not witnessed such t so prior to the 2018 Osun election which many especially in Kano people were not aware of. The candidate of the People’s Democracy Party (PDP), Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf was leading with 1,014,474, while Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of the All Progressive Congress (APC) scored 987,819 votes in the first round of the gubernatorial election. It was clear that PDP’s candidate was leading with almost 30000 votes. Of course his followers believed he had won the election and must thus be declared the winner. The problem was that the total number of votes canceled during the election was more than the number of votes Abba Gida Gida as he is popularly called in the state was leading with. To many in Kano who were not aware of the contents of the Electoral Act, they saw it as a strange law introduced by APC. Many that hold that view believed that since it has never happened it won’t work now, forgetting that as long as a law has not been removed, amended or replaced it still holds its potency.
What happened in Kano on the 23rd of March, 2019 was a daylight robbery of the people’s mandate, intimidation, inducement and using state security to unleash terror upon the state’s people who came out to exercise their constitutional civic right. The people of Kano witnessed unprecedented voters’ inducement. Immediately after INEC declaring the election inconclusive in the state all attention turned to one Registration Area (Gama) in the state being the ward with highest registered voters, with over 40,000 registered voters. The All Progressive Congress and its candidate who is the sitting governor in the state started magic projects in the ward. In a space of one week the state government constructed a road which had been abandoned for years in the area, constructed more than 20 boreholes, renovated the old Primary Health Care in the area, and distributed empowerment materials to the women in the community and football kits to youth in the area. All these magic projects happened in less than 10 days.
The silence or connivance of the security agencies in the state was the most unfortunate part of it all. People were left on their own as political thugs intimidated, threatened, beaten, and in some places even killed people in the presence of the security personnel who were seemingly deployed to protect the interest of some few individuals as opposed protecting the lives and properties of the citizenry. A friend of mine who served as an observer during the rerun in Gama ward narrated to me how he and his fellow observers were chased away from the polling unit they were observing after they rejected a bribe offer to not report what they witnessed. All these failure of security personnel happened when the head of police decided to deploy DIG, AIGs, CPs and other high-ranking police officers to reinforce the police’s might in the state, but with all these deployments, the police failed to secure less than 250 polling units. In the previous two elections, one single CP was able to bring sanity to the people of Kano state. The reason behind deployment of these high-ranking police officers is known to all but we must learn a lesson as we grow older. One thing which is important is we must learn when to talk and when to keep quiet, and to keep our plans within us until the right time. Kano Police Commissioner Wakili became a threat not only to the ruling party of the state but he was also trying to overshadow his masters, and according to one of the 44 laws of power has this admonition: “never outshine the master”.
Ali Sabo works with Centre for Information Technology and Development in Dutse, Jigawa State. You can reach him either through email: email@example.com or his twitter handle @alygee124