I condemn the recent Jos crisis and the assassination of Dipo Dina (former Action Congress governorship candidate of Ogun State in the 2007 election). I wish to commiserate with the families of innocent Nigerians that died in the Jos crisis and also with the families of Dipo Dina. Both incidents will run counter productive for attempts to launder Nigeria’s image abroad. Nigerians at home and abroad are deeply worried about the level of insecurity. Our fear of political assassinations, electoral frauds, electoral flaws, etc have increased as the Anambra election (February 2010) and 2011 general election draws closer.
The entire Nigerians will closely watch what will happen in Anambra election on February 6. Whatever happens in Anambra will further confirm what Nigerians will face in 2011 general election. But before then, let’s look briefly at past governorship elections in Anambra State, which is almost a case of total electoral frauds, flaws, and failures. Understandings of these electoral failures should form the basis to declare war against electoral fraud in Anambra State and Nigeria.
1983 General Election.
The old Anambra State witnessed bitter rivalry between the then governor (Chief Jim Nwobodo) and late Chief C.C.Onoh. Both men (Chief Jim Nwobodo and late Chief C.C.Onoh), had thugs who unleashed violence and intimidation to their opponents. There were serious electoral frauds leading to the “victory” of Chief Jim Nwobodo, but it was later quashed at the Supreme Court. Thus late Chief C.C.Onoh became the governor but his administration was short lived due to army takeover.
1999 General Election.
This election produced Mbadinujo as the governor and his “god father” Emeka Offor. The duo emerged by virtue of electoral fraud. The setback to Anambra State as a result of problems between the governor and his “godfather” cannot be quantified in monetary terms.
2003 General Election.
Serious rigging, electoral flaws and fraud were features of 2003 general elections. Anambra State gubernatorial election was a good example of 2003 electoral fraud. Dr Ngige was imposed on the state as the governor by perpetrators of this electoral fraud. When he (Dr Ngige) had misunderstandings with those that imposed him on the state, (his god fathers) he was kidnapped. Therefore, electoral fraud produced the first case of kidnapping of a sitting governor in Nigeria. Till date no one was prosecuted for that offence. Peter Obi later got his mandate through the court to become the truly elected governor of the state.
2007 General Election.
The 2007 general election witnessed the worst electoral fraud in the history of elections in Nigeria. President Yar’Adua acknowledged these irregularities. Again Anambra State was not left out. Andy Uba was declared the winner and lasted only 14 days in office. The court again restored Peter Obi as the governor. From the above analyses, Anambra State and her people have been victims of electoral fraud.
The same umpire (Independent National Electoral Commission) conducted both 2003 and 2007 general elections with catastrophic results. Why will the same umpire keep conducting further elections in Nigeria especially in Anambra? Why not disband them. If the military government disbanded National Electoral Commission (NEC), that conducted the freest and fairest election in Nigeria, why can’t the civilian administration dissolve INEC for gross misconduct of elections in Nigeria?
Realities of Electoral Fraud.
(a) Violence, destruction of properties, intimidation, killings, kidnappings, etc. Recently, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo disclosed that intelligence reports gathered by the police in Anambra State ahead of Feb 6 2010 election showed that majority of the politicians contesting the elections have recruited armed robbers, militias, kidnappers etc to cause mayhem.
(b) Post Electoral litigations. Using Anambra State as an example, the present Governor Peter Obi has been to court much more than any governor in Nigeria past or present, all in a bid to reclaim his mandate. Atiku Abubakar (former Vice President) and Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu went to court against President Yar’Adua. This list(s) of post electoral cases are too numerous. Nigerians should wonder how much we are loosing by virtue of all these court cases.
(c) Military Interventions. Politicians usually ask for the military intervention each time there is electoral fraud. 1964/65 and 1983 elections are examples were the military intervened partly because of electoral fraud and corruption. At present (2010) some people have been asking the military to intervene due to the absence of our president. However, the military has proven to be worst than the civilians in corruption and maladministration.
(d) Lack of development, security, welfare, progress and prosperity. The primary purpose of every government is security and welfare of her citizens. Electoral fraud denies the citizens of these benefits.
Counter Electoral Fraud Measures.
The Ideal situation and the way forward should be to put to an end to electoral fraud, otherwise electoral fraud will put an end to us. It will not be an easy task. We should realize that “The history of liberty is a history of resistance” (Thomas Woodrow, 1812). Liberty from electoral fraud will require total resistance to it. Be that as it may, I have the following suggestions.
(1) Electoral Activism. We should all become electoral activist(s). Vote during elections and make sure our votes are counted. Follow your vote till results are announced. Keep your own records and be prepared to defend your votes in courts if need be.
(2) Election Monitoring. Every one should come out and monitor elections in his/her locality. Using your camera or telephone with cameras to record every proceeding in and around your voting centers. These video records could be too useful to counter electoral frauds. Please see further details on; http://briefsfromakuta.blogspot.com/2009/08/digital-cameras-and-mobile-phones-with.html
(3) Surveillance and spying. We should all keep high level vigilance and surveillance of our neighborhoods to spot any suspicious movements. Spying should be used, before, during and after elections. I have details of company that could supply high level surveillance cameras for these purposes.
(4) Every community/community leaders/village head(s), should organize the youths, elders, and women to participate in election monitoring of their locality.
(5) Faith or Religious Organizations (churches, mosques, etc) should get involved and designate groups within their fold that will help to monitor elections. Faith Organizations should draw inspiration from Pastor Tunde Bakare (Save Nigeria Project). I recommend they read an appeal I made to leaders of faith organizations in Nigeria on http://briefsfromakuta.blogspot.com/2009/06/appeal-to-leaders-of-faith.html
(6) Electoral Evangelism. There should be mass production of anti electoral fraud messages in DVD’s, CDs, and Cassettes/audio tapes to be distributed to people, because the media houses owned by government etc might not permit such messages.
(7) Re-introduction of Option A4 Electoral System. This method produced the freest and fairest election in Nigeria. Therefore it’s a preferred system. The weaknesses of Option A4 System are much better than the strengths of the present electoral act.
Long live Anambra State and May God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK