with DANN JACOBS
The governorship election in Imo has been declared inconclusive, for the second consecutive time. That’s long grammar again. Isn’t it? Lots of people do not understand. We have a largely illiterate population. On the meaning of this, the rest of us can be considered half-literate. We don’t have the full meaning of the word, inconclusive. I don’t. That’s not the end of it. If it is inconclusive, is it un-conclude-able? Can it be concluded? When and how is not important for now. Just tell us it will be conclude-able. That will calm the nerves.
The electoral umpire, (INEC) explains that the election recorded so many irregularities and violent incidents, which we have since Christmas harassed God Almighty about. As a result, void votes outnumbered the difference between what the leading candidate and the person next to him (names withheld) polled. INEC argues that if the useless votes are retrieved it will (not could, no probability about it) substantially alter the result.
I don’t agree that we cannot have the results so far collated. What we can not have is the winner, based on that. That law which says that results declared at the booths and other centers are no results until the state collation officer, the prof. declares it is a strange law. We are entitled to know who is winning. Whenever a voter votes he/she is entitled to know whatever result is available. If this is done, chances of manipulation of the final outcome will be minimized. To avoid violent clashes, one thing this election should not have allowed is any occasion for doubt, suspicion and speculation. This is what we have given full rein to with the inconclusive result. It also assumes that because the end result must be announced by no less a person than a professor, he/she is faultless and can not be bought over or compromised. This is a dangerous assumption considering what is happening in the universities about admission, sorting, money and sex for grades, if one may put it raw that way. So let’s hope an inconclusive election is not to allow time for people to pay up to get the result they paid for. This is the culture, whether we like it or not. I don’t even trust our head of state on this. Some of them have done worse things.
It is clear too that in the elections there were so many offences. Where are the offenders then? What were the law enforcers doing? A full assemblage of them was drafted. They were all over the place. But they caught nobody in an exercise ridden with irregularities and violent crimes in which people were killed and others injured. What are we waiting for? By now, the prison cells would have admitted some electoral offenders. Or is the ‘change’ expected in this yet to come. We took this aspect of the election so serious that no effort would have been spared to apprehend people who have even slightly tested our resolve in this regard.
I will again conclude that the offenders have bought their way out of trouble. That was the ‘free and fair’ meaning of the election. We had thought that it was the election that was meant to be free and fair. But no, it was the people bringing malpractice into the exercise and those equipped and given uniforms to check them that ended up being free. What a curious mix.
Talking about ‘free and fair’ election, it seems to me that something cannot be free and also fair at the same time. In a free election or atmosphere nothing or nobody can be wrong as such. Calling anybody to order infringes on that very freedom we are talking about. In this election nothing has been offensive and nobody has been an offender. Is it that this has not been reported? While the election has been adjudged inconclusive, it was all the same free and fair and as well credible (believable). This conclusion has been reached. To make it free and fair, the malpractices caused no offence, nobody was offended and there was no offender. Everybody was satisfied equally. At least the satisfaction of all, including the offenders, has been the aim. That’s why the election has not been conclusive. Why won’t it be in-conclusive? If anybody is in trouble because of the election then it has not been free and fair. Do you see the point?
While we were looking out for a free election, the Nigerians who went out there to conduct it had another thing in mind. The electoral personnel saw it as an opportunity to make the easy money they have not been able to make all their years in regular job or in joblessness. It has always been this way. Some of them are talking of 10, 20, or 30 thousand naira they came home with. Some received one dirty slap or two, a bloody nose or red eyes. Others had to run for dear life when push came to shove and the bribes demanded or offered were not forthcoming or good enough.
The so-called security men and women went for a kill to line their pockets. This opportunity comes but once. All it requires is Yes sir, when they are told “take this money, go to so-so-so place with your people and protect them to re-write the results. Give them escort to take the results to the collation centre. If it is questioned there, force them to accept it. If this is well executed come back for more money.” It depends on who is giving the directive. The higher the person giving the order is, the fatter the bag of money. This is not a thing for envelopes. It is not something to be refused. You live to regret it if you do.
Of course those to declare results which none else on earth can do know what enormous power is in their hands. That power can fetch money in quantum and it is a chance of a life time which can help to finish that house project lingering for years and buy that car that has been the family dream for years. If a man is to declare another man winner to go into a job where he will control billions and of course take as much as he can, he must hold him up at the point of declaration to appreciate what is about to happen. This is the way most collation officers may be looking at it, which can lead to inconclusive elections. And you are here talking about it.
An inconclusive election doesn’t just happen. Its causes are some of the things this country cannot courageously face, but has to put up with as unavoidable, not to rock the boat too much. Everybody trembles to mention them.
One, the incumbent government seeking re-election may ordain or work for it, if it entertains fears of losing. That’s a soft way of exiting from power. It does everything to stall an election. Two, the election personnel out to make money doesn’t care a hoot if an election is concluded or not. He is better off if it is inconclusive. Three, party thugs are professionals. This is the job they do and wait patiently for 4 good years. They create the confusion that enables them make money and bring an election to an abrupt end. They have no age limit, though we all blame youths. Three, the so-called security can be mindless about corruption during elections. Their guns are invaluable equipment for making money in the civil population where they believe the money is. Unless you don’t see, this mentality is obvious. Four, from the chairman to the last person in the exercise, you can say amandianaeze.
This is the time people vow to take their sizeable share of the national cake; to take their pound of flesh, because the money is available. If you are going for election you must have money in inexhaustible quantity. People go all out to grab what they can. A lot of water passes under the bridge. Everybody gives. Everybody takes. All are guilty. If it leaks everybody goes to hell. So nobody talks. No government can delve into this if it wants to live. The deal is water and air tight. The observer and the reporter are the people who are left to make do with their touring advances, except in rare cases perhaps when they may be paid handsomely to see nothing and say nothing by culpable people caught in the act. The stubborn ones can still be curbed at the headquarters by something being sent to the management or responsible editors. Yes, it happens. It is deadly to touch ones employers’ vital interests. Isn’t it? Elections in Nigeria are run not by ordinary people but by mindless mafia groups and people. They instigate violence, alteration of results and the ‘I no go gree’ which follows it. When an election is inconclusive, it was ordained to happen. Even foreign observers stay away from it. They don’t say things that ruffle feathers and course controversies.
Don’t be deceived. People have gone home to re-charge, a sort of respite or half-time. It is to enable people who have not paid for services rendered or about to be rendered to pay up. They will be back to conclude the deal soon. Just don’t get too involved. What will be, will be. It is not the election that was inconclusive. It is the business of people in the election.