Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie

Nigeria: The Burden of a Lie

By Okey Ndibe (okeyndibe@gmail.com)


I have never been more afraid of Nigeria – afraid, that is, of the very idea of Nigeria – than in the past week or two. Until recently, I had retained residual hope in the prospect of the birth of a viable nation out of the space called Nigeria. I'm now – I must confess – filled with deep doubts.

Suddenly, or not so suddenly, some sections of Nigeria have once again become vast killing fields. Nigeria, always adept at degrading most of its populace, has become an entity that roasts its citizens as if they were cattle. And a Nigeria that presumes to have a government appears incapable of discharging the most basic function of a state: protecting the lives and property of citizens.

Nothing justifies the current bonfire and its consumption, once again, of youth corps members and other innocents who had little or no hand in making Nigeria a dreary, misshapen space. Nothing justifies it, but one cannot say that it was not foreseen. Violence, as Frantz Fanon pointed out long ago, can serve revolutionary ends. I am all for resisting hijackers of power, but the violence we've witnessed hardly rose to the level of a meaningful resistance. For the most part, the protesters turned their fury on innocent victims. They killed indiscriminately and wreaked havoc on private businesses. This species of violence was not informed by any revolutionary ethos.

It was gratuitous and hysterical, but should be understood as the culmination and production of a series of lies and corrupt acts – even evidence of an incoherent state. Ultimately, a Nigerian state whose machinery, instead of uplifting its populace, degrades and dehumanizes a majority of its citizens, both fertilized and incubated the violence.

This is a season, alas, when Nigeria's manifold contradictions have bubbled to the surface all at once. Instead of revealing the promise of cohesion, Nigeria has never looked more like a map of two or more irreconcilable nations, two mutually antagonistic sectarian tents.

In February, I told a forum at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC that Nigeria resembled a space organized for and by a small group of criminal elements who pose as leaders. I suggested that this cabal always hijacks power for its self-aggrandizement – and to prey on the impoverished majority. I spoke with the current elections in view. My talk reflected my profound misgivings about the way that Nigeria had saddled itself with an inexcusably expensive electoral system. The price tag struck me as indefensible. Even so, my larger concern was this sneaking fear that the system was not invulnerable to manipulation.

Johns Hopkins had also invited Dimieari von Kemedi, an aide to Goodluck Jonathan, to speak at the forum. He sounded rather upbeat in his assessment of the (then) forthcoming elections. Trumpeting the virtues of the biometric data technology that was utilized in voter registration, he insisted that the 2011 elections would be virtually impossible to rig.

In an interview after our talk with a reporter from the Voice of America, I stated my fervent hope that I would be proved wrong in my dire prognosis. I very much wanted Dimieari's optimistic account to emerge as the savvier, more perceptive narrative.

Today, in the aftermath of the presidential elections, what surprises is not that von Kemedi's prediction of credible elections came to pass – it didn't. The astonishment is how a large swath of the nation's youth and elite have embraced and propagated a lie.

Let's give credit: Attahiru Jega, thank God, is no Maurice Iwu. From the outset, Mr. Jega's body language and actions bespoke a desire and determination to conduct a series of elections that would stand up to scrutiny. But it takes more than one man's will to achieve such a lofty goal.

What transpired in some parts of Nigeria during the presidential elections revealed the ease with which politicians – and one must point especially at the ruling party – could rape a supposedly impregnable system. Doubtless, the presidential polls were conducted reasonably well in some parts of the country, especially in the southwest. However, the southeast and south-south became arenas for the rawest, most unintelligent form of electoral fraud. In these areas, agents representing opposition candidates were either intimidated or coaxed with cash to acquiesce in the stuffing of ballots for Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.

Would Mr. Jonathan have won in these states? I'd say in all likelihood. Would he have won close to a hundred percent of the votes? I'd say far from it. That Jonathan's operatives – among them southeast and south-south governors – saw fit to stage this manner of rigging spree speaks volumes about their disdain both for the Nigerian people as well as INEC's biometric technology. Mr. Jonathan's scandalous margin of victory suggests that a herd mentality (a desire by everybody to vote in the same way) exists in the southeast and south-south. That's a lie manufactured by a herd of gubernatorial riggers.

Once again, the familiar refrain from those who admit that the elections were massively manipulated in certain parts of the country, is that Mr. Jonathan would have won all the same had the process been credible. It's a maddening, illogical argument. And the simple retort is, Why choose to steal an election you're confident of winning in a fair, transparent process?

The presidential election did not only demystify "biometrics," it also exposed something even more disturbing – the willingness of Nigeria's academic elite to be tools for their country's destruction. In much of the southeast and south-south, lecturers and professors served as returning officers. Yet, these supposedly enlightened citizens became excited and shameless participants in ballot inflation and falsification. They did so in the name of some consensus to return Mr. Jonathan. If such a consensus existed, why not simply permit citizens to actualize it by voting their consciences?

Another fashionable argument is that all parties rigged. To buttress that point, some point to the incidence of child voters in many northern states. Indeed, to the extent that they were able to, it may well be true that all parties rigged, or tried to.

Yet, this conventional wisdom – that every party rigs – begs several questions. One is: Is there any system in the world that can remove or minimize fraud from the equation of Nigerian elections? If the answer is yes, why don't we find and adopt it? If no, then don't we need to rethink the huge investment in a technology that is, ultimately, a false promise? Why did we have to go biometric, with all its huge price tag, if it was not going to dissuade ballot stuffing? Did we have to spend so much money on a system that could not guarantee sound elections?

One must insist, however, that there is rigging and there is rigging. Truth be told, the president and ruling party bring the police, secret service agents, even soldiers to bear on their rigging. With little or no access to these agents of the state, opposition candidates can hardly muster any rigging power to match the ruling party's. Besides, the sitting president has unfettered access to cash – from visible and not-so-visible sources – to enable him to buy up votes and to mobilize an army of riggers. In a country where the man at the helm answers to no one, the temptation to dip hands in public funds in order to finance an election is as real as the opportunity is present.

There's no question that the 2011 elections are better, much better than the impunity that Mr. Iwu conflated in 2007. But are they as credible and transparent as the nation's investment warrants? Has the biometric technology chastened the riggers among us? Would the judiciary have the spine to judge electoral disputes on their merits rather than on the weight of the biggest bribe?

Until we admit the scale of fraud committed in the name of achieving a questionable consensus, we are bound to learn the wrong lessons – and to encourage worse forms of usurpation today and in the future. Many people, for example, expect many PDP governors to lose in today's elections. They don't realize that a governor who illicitly secured 99% for Mr. Jonathan is likely to use the same fraudulent means to get himself re-elected as well – with, at the very least, 80% of the votes.

Since Mr. Jonathan's tainted victory, a sector of the Nigerian youth on cyberworld has been giddy with exultation. Overnight, Mr. Jonathan has been elevated in some quarters as the very embodiment of Nigeria's renaissance. The youth vanguard that champions Jonathan often leaves the impression that nothing less than a messiah is come.

My suspicion is that much of this excitement is based on a profound illusion, a lie. Perhaps these boisterous youths believe they elected Jonathan. The man, I suspect, knows that he was chosen by a handful of trusted "stakeholders." Is Jonathan's "victory" a purely personal one, or is it a victory for Nigeria? For it to be a Nigerian triumph, then Nigerians have to see it as reflecting their deepest aspirations.

For those who labor under the illusion that they own Mr. Jonathan, it would be wise to take a look at the "Kodak" moment when the man was proclaimed "president-elect." They'd see a beaming Tony Anenih (yes, Mr. Fix-it himself), but there's not a single young person in the picture. Go figure!

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Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
MrOneNaija posted on 04-26-2011, 07:04:03 AM
QUOTE:
Today, in the aftermath of the presidential elections, what surprises is not that von Kemedi's prediction of credible elections came to pass Β– it didn't. The astonishment is how a large swath of the nation's youth and elite have embraced and propagated a lie.

Let's give credit: Attahiru Jega, thank God, is no Maurice Iwu. From the outset, Mr. Jega's body language and actions bespoke a desire and determination to conduct a series of elections that would stand up to scrutiny. But it takes more than one man's will to achieve such a lofty goal.

What transpired in some parts of Nigeria during the presidential elections revealed the ease with which politicians Β– and one must point especially at the ruling party Β– could rape a supposedly impregnable system. Doubtless, the presidential polls were conducted reasonably well in some parts of the country, especially in the southwest. However, the southeast and south-south became arenas for the rawest, most unintelligent form of electoral fraud. In these areas, agents representing opposition candidates were either intimidated or coaxed with cash to acquiesce in the stuffing of ballots for Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.

Would Mr. Jonathan have won in these states? I'd say in all likelihood. Would he have won close to a hundred percent of the votes? I'd say far from it. That Jonathan's operatives Β– among them southeast and south-south governors Β– saw fit to stage this manner of rigging spree speaks volumes about their disdain both for the Nigerian people as well as INEC's biometric technology. Mr. Jonathan's scandalous margin of victory suggests that a herd mentality (a desire by everybody to vote in the same way) exists in the southeast and south-south. That's a lie manufactured by a herd of gubernatorial riggers.

Once again, the familiar refrain from those who admit that the elections were massively manipulated in certain parts of the country, is that Mr. Jonathan would have won all the same had the process been credible. It's a maddening, illogical argument. And the simple retort is, Why choose to steal an election you're confident of winning in a fair, transparent process?

The presidential election did not only demystify \"biometrics,\" it also exposed something even more disturbing Β– the willingness of Nigeria's academic elite to be tools for their country's destruction. In much of the southeast and south-south, lecturers and professors served as returning officers. Yet, these supposedly enlightened citizens became excited and shameless participants in ballot inflation and falsification. They did so in the name of some consensus to return Mr. Jonathan. If such a consensus existed, why not simply permit citizens to actualize it by voting their consciences?

Yet, this conventional wisdom Β– that every party rigs Β– begs several questions. One is: Is there any system in the world that can remove or minimize fraud from the equation of Nigerian elections? If the answer is yes, why don't we find and adopt it? If no, then don't we need to rethink the huge investment in a technology that is, ultimately, a false promise? Why did we have to go biometric, with all its huge price tag, if it was not going to dissuade ballot stuffing? Did we have to spend so much money on a system that could not guarantee sound elections?

One must insist, however, that there is rigging and there is rigging. Truth be told, the president and ruling party bring the police, secret service agents, even soldiers to bear on their rigging. With little or no access to these agents of the state, opposition candidates can hardly muster any rigging power to match the ruling party's. Besides, the sitting president has unfettered access to cash Β– from visible and not-so-visible sources Β– to enable him to buy up votes and to mobilize an army of riggers. In a country where the man at the helm answers to no one, the temptation to dip hands in public funds in order to finance an election is as real as the opportunity is present.

...Would the judiciary have the spine to judge electoral disputes on their merits rather than on the weight of the biggest bribe?

Until we admit the scale of fraud committed in the name of achieving a questionable consensus, we are bound to learn the wrong lessons Β– and to encourage worse forms of usurpation today and in the future. Many people, for example, expect many PDP governors to lose in today's elections. They don't realize that a governor who illicitly secured 99% for Mr. Jonathan is likely to use the same fraudulent means to get himself re-elected as well Β– with, at the very least, 80% of the votes.

Since Mr. Jonathan's tainted victory, a sector of the Nigerian youth on cyberworld has been giddy with exultation. Overnight, Mr. Jonathan has been elevated in some quarters as the very embodiment of Nigeria's renaissance. The youth vanguard that champions Jonathan often leaves the impression that nothing less than a messiah is come.

My suspicion is that much of this excitement is based on a profound illusion, a lie. Perhaps these boisterous youths believe they elected Jonathan. The man, I suspect, knows that he was chosen by a handful of trusted \"stakeholders.\" ..

A refreshingly candid essay - a far cry from the largely kowtowing, sectarian pro-regime propaganda which one has been subjected to by shrill voices of the complacent local Nigerian media as represented by Reuben Abati of The Guardian.
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Nezie posted on 04-26-2011, 07:08:12 AM
The kernel of Ndibe's essay is that the last presidential election was better than that of 2007 but it was rigged in favour of President Jonathan.

However, one believes it is doubtful all those lecturers and professors alluded complicit to vote rigging by Ndibe could have colluded to rig the election in favour of President Jonathan. Did President Jonathan appoint them?

Whoever says that Jonah is the messiah Nigeria has been waiting for? Jonah's victory was rather a message: a message from Nigerians that they were tired of the past in which whoever must become Nigeria's president must first be the choice of a born-to-rule cabal-in-council. Jonah's victory is a step forward for democracy in Nigeria.

However, Ndibe's suspicion that Jonah believes he was chosen by a handful of trusted stakeholders needs to be debunked in future by the president.

Yawn! Wish O. Ndibe shall one day go to the root of Nigeria's palaver: the unitary system of governance in practice in guise of a federal system - in a country like Nigeria.
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Denker posted on 04-26-2011, 07:18:10 AM
..another chronic complainant, mallam Ndibe....

QUOTE:
My prayer is that Jonathan turn out to be the one moved by conscience and pity for the Nigerian.


@Obugi, you need to elaborate on dis....am confused!
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Obugi posted on 04-26-2011, 07:50:31 AM
Denker,

QUOTE:
..another chronic complainant, mallam Ndibe....


@Obugi, you need to elaborate on dis....am confused!


I think I was very clear. Let me put it another way.

Jonathan has two choices.

(1) He can listen to the voices of the US & UK and maintain the status quo and keep enjoying a guaranteed, rich and sumptous reign which will lead to him amassing much personal wealth. This is the less risky path.

(2) He can be moved by conscience and feel regret and pity for the suffering of Nigerians, such that he will take measures to make Nigeria a better place to live. This is risky because any wealth that accrues to Nigerians automatically means Shell, Exxon, La Farge, Julius Berger, Nestle, Pfizer, Siemens et c and their home countries will get less profit from their Nigerian operations....and these Western countries will fight him. Ask Gbagbo in Ivory Coast.

Everybody knows what the problem is in Nigeria, we're just too scared to face it.

! Get Yours !
Obugi.
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Enyi posted on 04-26-2011, 08:16:56 AM
Again another speculation. Why don't we first conduct a fact-based in-depth analysis before jumping to conclusion? Somebody claimed the figures in SE/SS were inflated by 300%. He did not state the formula he used to work out this percentage. Campbell claimed rigging was done at the collating centers. Again, he did not state how he arrived at this. He didn't even tell us in how many (or percentage of) collating centers this happened. Should we assume that this occurred in all centers? There are accusations of agents receiving money to sign falsified reults. Once more, we are not told how many or (percentage of) agents involved. BTW, who appointed those agents? Life has taught me that things are not always what they seem.
So far Bakare and Mrs. Clinton have made the most logical contributions to this debate. Mrs. Clinton, in her speech, called for investigation of the "unusually" high voter turn-out in SS and SE. Bakare also suggested that the ballot papers in SE/SS be subjected to forensic examination. Until, these are done, we shall continue to dwell in the realm of speculations that may or may not have any bearing to reality. I shall close with the immortal words of H. Baker (1742):

"Beware of determining and declaring
your opinion suddenly on
any subject; for imagination
often gets the start of judjement"
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Ikoyiesho1 posted on 04-26-2011, 08:24:07 AM
A big departure from the usual "Jonathan do good" syndrome.

I have read tons of articles here on NVS where some morally bankrupt Nigerians are saying that the election was 100% free and fair.

It does seem to me that many of these Nigerian folks especially those who leave in Nigeria have no good basis on which they measure success or sanity and that is why anyone would infer that the recently concluded election was not a failure.

It is a shame having spent billions on a basic biometric technology and we can't get it to prevent ballot stuffing and underage voting. If I'd look at the election outcome from a business perspective, then, I'd say it fails from a return on Investment (ROI) view. Equally looking at it from a project management viewpoint, any sensible project manager would simply tell you it is a big failure.

Until, we are able to get our acts together and define common standards on which things would be done. I wouldn't even expect it to be better come 2015.
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Ikoyiesho1 posted on 04-26-2011, 09:11:22 AM
Enyi,

I beg to disagree with you on this one.

It's definitely no speculation that ballots were stuffed or that under aged voters were allowed to vote in many states of the country. This vices were witnessed by thousands of people of which there are pictures and videos in certain cases to that effect. More so, who would deny the fact that the biometric project didn't work as Ndibe puts it.

That is not to mention many atrocious and clandestine crimes which were perpetuated by both the ruling and the opposition parties which although could be based on speculation but can be regarded as potentially valid. Why? because even you and I know that in some states the number of voters outpaced those who registered.

So how come?

You and I have to work it out. Why not? Remember you and I worked in out in 2007 without evidence, even when the court told us that they were no substantial evidence.

C'mon Enyi, we needn't blame the Campbell's and the rest because they simply tell us what they see without bringing evidence.

Enyi, I can tell you categorically without any further evidence that the whole INEC thing was a crass failure. You may want to look at this link to look at what is meant when one says a project fail.

http://www.maxwideman.com/guests/metrics/failures.htm

Based on every Premise. Okey Ndibe's analysis is valid, rational and an honest truth. What do you expect from your courts anyway?
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
MrOneNaija posted on 04-26-2011, 09:21:29 AM
QUOTE:
Again another speculation. Why don't we first conduct a fact-based in-depth analysis before jumping to conclusion? Somebody claimed the figures in SE/SS were inflated by 300%. He did not state the formula he used to work out this percentage. Campbell claimed rigging was done at the collating centers. Again, he did not state how he arrived at this. He didn't even tell us in how many (or percentage of) collating centers this happened. Should we assume that this occurred in all centers? There are accusations of agents receiving money to sign falsified reults. Once more, we are not told how many or (percentage of) agents involved. BTW, who appointed those agents? Life has taught me that things are not always what they seem.
So far Bakare and Mrs. Clinton have made the most logical contributions to this debate. Mrs. Clinton, in her speech, called for investigation of the \"unusually\" high voter turn-out in SS and SE. Bakare also suggested that the ballot papers in SE/SS be subjected to forensic examination. Until, these are done, we shall continue to dwell in the realm of speculations that may or may not have any bearing to reality. I shall close with the immortal words of H. Baker (1742):

\"Beware of determining and declaring
your opinion suddenly on
any subject; for imagination
often gets the start of judjement\"

Speculation may not necessarily be interpreted to mean an absence of evidence or logic. You don't need the questionable posturing of a representative of an alien entity like Mrs. Clinton to decipher the stark reality that the 2011 presidential polls in Nigeria were heavily rigged by Jonathan and his PDP. Credible reports by reliable media outfits like Sahara Reporters have given us the indication of that sad development. Only those who are too comsumed by their pro-regime partisanship have refused to take off their blinkers and smell the coffee, so to speak.

Even a casual analysis of some figures and the supposed voting picture so far put out by the INEC does point to a doctored electoral outcome in favour of the PDP. Besides, the desperation on the part of Jonathan and his fellow riggers to steal the people's mandate has been very well documented. That desperation has been expressed in several ways, one of them being the criminal use of the police, the SSS and the army to intimidate the opposition. Another demonic scheme has been the use of the pro-PDP mafia within the INEC.
QUOTE:
Presidential poll most systematically rigged, ACN says
Friday, 22 April 2011 00:00 Abbas Jimoh & Muideen Olaniyi
Daily Trust
Abuja
ACN National Publicity Secretary Lai Mohammed

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described last Saturday's presidential election as the most systematically rigged in Nigeria's history, and warned against any attempt to repeat such in Tuesday's governorship/state assembly polls. ACN National Publicity Secretary Lai Mohammed said this in a statement yesterday.


However, the ACN spokesman Lai Mohammed said the PDP is planning to massively rig the state elections, especially in areas where President Goodluck Jonathan scored victories, so as to give the world the impression that the result of the presidential election was not a fluke.

\"The PDP has been boasting that it will clinch the governorship election in Lagos and elsewhere on the strength of the result of the presidential election, but we must warn strongly that a repeat of the crooked strategy that spewed out those cooked figures will have consequences that no one has yet imagined,\" he said.

Mohammed said the PDP simply stole more than enough for the owner to see during last Saturday's presidential election, forgetting that if anyone thinks he/she knows how to hide things, others also know how to find them.

He said the PDP colluded with security agents and INEC officials to Β‘cook' figures which have now turned out to be their undoing, because the Β‘cooking' was not intelligently carried out.

\"An analysis of the results put out by INEC has shown a troubling pattern of clear manipulation and that everywhere the PDP perceived it was strong, it came out with incredibly high numbers of voter in his favour, while, anywhere the opposition was perceived to be strong, the opposition's margin of victory was low.

He said, \"A few examples will suffice: In the South-south and South-east, where President Jonathan is believed to have strong support, the average turnout was 67% each of registered voters, compared to 32% for the South-west where he is believed to have a strong opposition. In the North-west and North-east, which is considered a bastion of opposition in the north, the average turnout of registered voters was 54%.

\"And whereas high voter turnout was recorded in states perceived to be sympathetic to President Jonathan in the different geopolitical zones (Bayelsa in South-south 85%, Imo in South-east 84%, and Plateau in North-central (62%), the opposite was the case for areas where the opposition, was believed to be strong. Even in Katsina, Buhari's hometown, the turnout was a paltry 52%! Ditto for Kano (53%); Sokoto (40%) and Zamfara (51%).

\"It is also instructive that even though Edo State is in the South-south, the turnout was only 37%, apparently since the state was not believed Β– by the figure cooks Β– to be sympathetic to President Jonathan, being controlled by the ACN. The turnout figures for the South-west are also revealing: Lagos (31.8%); Ogun (28%); Osun (39%) and Oyo (33%). Also, while the margin of victory for the PDP in the South-south is 98% and for the South-east 98.9%, the highest margin of victory for the CPC in the North-west, where Buhari comes from, is 55.8%.\"

He said when the ballot papers are subjected to forensic analysis, as they definitely will, the world will realise that what appeared to be free and fair election at the polling units was a mere façade.

He also condemned the election observers for rushing to tell the world that the whole election process was free, fair and credible, whereas they were busy playing to the gallery in urban centres while the PDP colluded with INEC and security officials in the locality to fabricate figures that are only real in their imagination.
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Tony ishiekwene posted on 04-26-2011, 09:33:14 AM
Okey thanks for standing on the truth as you have always done!But one correction: As in 2006 when Iwu spent tons of cash to import Digital data capture machines that were not used, Jega did use new sets of Machine for voter registration, but was forced to abandom it fro a manual voter register for the real election, by PDP scoundrels who know nothing else than election rigging to remain in power. They know they cannot win any election by one-person-one vote system that the biometric register would have entailed. So the voting was by no way DNA biometrics, and that's why thumb printing and vote inflation tok over.

Correct Assessment of the vote manipulation called 2011 election. It is the same fixers who rigged the 1999, 2003, 2007 elections that are still at work, just that they changed their methods slightly. If you go and look at OBJ's votes in 2003 and Yar'Adua's votes in 2007 and GEJ's vote in 2011 in the SS and SE states the numbers and pattern of voting/rigging are the same. Same criminals at work.

Until we start using biometric/DNA technology which I thought Jega wanted to use with the Voter registration, but the criminal PDP stopped him, so that they can have a field day in multiple thumb printing, we will never have free and fair elections in Nigeria.

And why is PDP afraid of letting the NJC appoint INEC chairman as reccommended by the Uwais commission? Because they love vote rigging and imposition of their kinds on Nigerians.

Don't blame the Northern Almajiris, blame the PDP for the violence, for it started with vote rigging and stealing of people's voice!
Re: Nigeria: The Burden Of A Lie
Danmeka posted on 04-26-2011, 09:34:10 AM
Prof,

Thanks for this lovely piece but certain people would not agree with you.I only have one word for them "Kashimawo".GEJ is not the messiah only time will tell
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