Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence

Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
By Pat Utomi


That the general elections of April 14 and 21 in Nigeria were much disputed by candidates and widely discredited by local and international observers, is not news anymore. Protests by Lawyers, Labour, several other elements of civil society in Nigeria and Nigerians living abroad, suggests a crisis of legitimacy would plague those who may go through inaugural ceremonies on May 29, heightening anxiety about Nigeria's troubled development experience.
Would a legitimacy crisis be the worst possible outcome of attempt at elections which saw widespread disenfranchisement of Nigerians, scores of human lives lost as anger trailed the outcome of voting, and global tarnishing of a challenged brand in the heart of Africa? Some very perceptive Nigeria watchers see more unsettling consequences for culture from a trend towards impunity in the brazen disregard of the popular will by electoral commissions. One exasperated observer announced to a friend on return to London that Nigeria was a lost cause. As culture is so critical for human progress the poisoning of values by conduct of public officials which ridicule due process, the rule of law and basic decency, it should not take Jared Diamond or a soothsayer to suggest that collapse could be staring such a society in the face.
 
Typical response for a world anxious to see no evil and hear no evil as long as crude oil flows are not significantly disrupted, is to spray perfume over the mess, and carry on business as usual. This time around that practice will not do because impunity has led Nigeria down the path where the options have narrowed to between anarchy and revolution. The challenge for civil society, the Nigerian Diaspora and the country's politicians is to ensure that the revolution is essentially non-violent, sweeps away the cabal that has ensured that 71% of Nigerians live below the poverty line, health care so poorly delivered that Nigeria is ranked the worst case in Africa in the fight to check TB and life expectancy has fallen to mid 40s, while income disparities have fallen into the league of the 20 worst cases in the world. The Gini index, the measure of income distribution between the top and bottom seem to get worse everyday when they are narrowing in developing countries that have created jobs. All these have made the revenge of the poor the most potent factor of the Nigerian condition. Should any of this matter to the world?
 
Preventing Nigeria from travelling down the road to Somalia or Sierra Leone should be of concern because of the possible cost of anarchy in Nigeria for regional stability, the Gulf of Guinea's increasing strategic place in global energy security, and the opportunity cost of Nigeria not being in a position to play its traditional peace keeping role in Africa and elsewhere. Then there is human solidarity as the wellbeing of more than 140 million people is threatened and the immigration challenges it poses as the middle class and educated scramble to head to foreign lands as is presently the case.
 
It will be wrong, as Nigerians often expect, that the task of saving Nigeria can be domiciled with some messiah or taken up by foreign powers, yet those foreign powers will do wrong not to acknowledge the desperate need for a change in the way things are done in Nigeria and perhaps provide support for such change effort by simply not pretending that all is okay. It is because they took that approach in 1999 that the abuse which left President Jimmy Carter, dumbfounded, became the travesty of 2003, and the international humiliation of 2007. Surely 2011 may leave no country if constitutional reforms and major culture change is not undertaken.
We must, in Nigeria, do some soul searching and ask how we got here and where we go from here. How did we go from Premiers like Sir Ahmadu Bello and Michael Okpara, who epitomed selfless service to the Governors of the last eight years most of who should be in jail, or from humble honest national leaders like Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa whose times brought relative progress to Megalomaniacal incumbents who have taken the country back many years and left it a farewell gift of global shame, yet pontificate on everything and pass judgement on everyone. How indeed did we go from a time, when as Alhaji Maitama Sule so frequently reminds us, Balewa made him, as a young Minister, respectfully prostrate to greet legendary opposition leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in Parliament, to these time when we send out young assistants as attack dogs pouring insults on their Father's mates in superior positions of authority. Lee Iaccocca's new book has a title that poses the question we must all be asking in Nigeria, where have the leaders gone. It is all about the collapse of culture. Culture matters and no society can sustain human progress if it has the crisis of values Nigeria is mired in. How else can you explain the resources that flowed into then economy from 1999 to date yet the human condition is much worse this day.
 
Years ago I learnt that the litmus test of all action is how you can explain it to your six year old. If you cannot you should lose sleep on the matter. But we see paraded in positions of authority people whose consciences long died. How then, as John Paul II of blessed memory did on Iraq do you leave such people to the judgement of their consciences, the Judgement of history, and ultimately, the judgement of God. We must trust the judgement of God but we must act first as men by coming out of our comfort zones to work together for the building of a new Nigeria. It will have to involve developing leaders and shaping culture for progress. It should be clear now that what we need are national builders not political dealmakers. Our children, at the least, deserve that sacrifice and forward looking orientation.
 
Professor Utomi, ADC Presidential Candidate in 2007 is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership



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Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
UglyMan posted on 05-23-2007, 07:52:40 AM
I have some nagging questions that perhaps our esteemed and respected Professor Utomi can help me answer:

Since all the losing candidates and losing parties knew several months before the election that PDP would rig the election (having previously rigged two elections) and yet the other political parties did nothing to prepare their supporters to either rig or prevent the rigging at the voting sources, why should we, the average helpless Nigerians, now go on the street to protest? Is it so that we can put the same losing parties, who were too weak or too disorganized, in power? Or is it to shame the PDP? Or is it for the phantom ideal called democracy? Or is it protesting for the sake of protesting?

(With all due respect, I ask these questions because I have come to the sad conclusion that if the other political parties, one of which I supported, were too weak to prevent the rigging, they will be too weak to protect Nigerian interests at home and abroad.)
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Pappilo posted on 05-23-2007, 08:14:39 AM
@ uglyman

QUOTE:
I ask these questions because I have come to the sad conclusion that if the other political parties, one of which I supported, were too weak to prevent the rigging, they will be too weak to protect Nigerian interests at home and abroad

poor analysis my brother.

All this talk na hot air. Nothing dey happen for naija. Things only get worse in Nigeria. I have never witnessed any improvement in that country( only if you call GSM an improvement from fixed line technology). Is it security, infrastructure, water ,power, food, foreign exchange? nothing.

I just like to chat about that country because it is my country of birth, I know nothing will change. Wake up people! there are no solutions to the problems in Naija. The only solution is the balkan way, peacefully though.
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Akuluouno posted on 05-23-2007, 08:18:15 AM
We need prayers. We need prayers. We need prayers.
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Oghre posted on 05-23-2007, 08:19:15 AM
"Corruption and rigged elections do not constitute a democracy"

On corruption:
The American government is corrupt as are other nations including Nigeria, so Nigeria should not be a peculiar case and be picked on simply because its people allow you the freedom to do so.

Those who have enough money can almost get anything they want from the American government; tax breaks, subsidies, policies and laws changed, removed, or added. If you offer the American government cash, they will put the needs of rich influential individuals and foreign government on the agenda. The American government attacks foreign entities while labelling them terms like Axis of evil and terrorists, all for economic pursuits. Very recently they attacked and sacked a sovereign government in the worst case of oil theft in the world's history…but we are discussing Nigeria.

On Rigged elections:
George Bush is known to have used his brother, the Governor of the state of Texas to rig himself into power, why are you not using that as a case of election rigging, especially when it happened in a "democratic" society? How many nations out there have recorded smooth and free elections without issues?




How did you inform yourself about "Obasanjo's lacklustre legacy", from the American press and the African-American "ignorance" you informed us about? Did you take into account the achievements vis-à-vis the negatives of the Obasanjo regime; are you any more informed than the average black American you will have us believe are myopic and obtuse?

On Yar'adua; what proof have you that "his elitist cronies will benefit from this newly launched satellite" I suppose by your book and standards anything like this happening in Nigeria has to be for the wrong reasons.

Did you say "satellite deal with the Chinese represents another flaw in African democracy; it fails to benefit those it claims to represent" On the one hand you said more Nigerians are benefiting from telecoms technology and on the other tell us they will not benefit, please make up your mind and while you are there ask Nigerians (I mean the ones who actually live in the country, not some black person shooting from the outside) if they actually see the benefits of joining the technology age to provide communications facilities for the nation.

I like the "African democracy" mention; reminds me of CNN and BBC. A telecoms deal with the Chinese represents a flaw in Libyan and Chadian democracies. How daft?

"Little difference between the military dictatorship under Sani Abacha and the "democratically" elected candidates of the People's Democratic Party (PDP)"

Are you by any chance a spastic? Does one need to go to university to know the difference between a civilian government and a military dictatorship?

Ben
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Oghre posted on 05-23-2007, 08:22:29 AM
replied to wrong article - sorry
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Katampe posted on 05-23-2007, 08:43:43 AM
"
QUOTE:
How did we go from Premiers like Sir Ahmadu Bello and Michael Okpara, who epitomed selfless service to the Governors of the last eight years most of who should be in jail, or from humble honest national leaders like Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa whose times brought relative progress to Megalomaniacal incumbents who have taken the country back many years and left it a farewell gift of global shame, yet pontificate on everything and pass judgement on everyone.\"


I think Pat Utomi asked a very good question here. I was challenged when someone made some unremarkable statements about Obafemi Awolowo on some other thread to start getting more important books on Nigerian history.I have already gotten the autobiography of late Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Sir Ahmadu Bello for starters. I already started making electronic copies the books (and in due time if anyone is interested I shall have no problems emailing them) . I am currently reading "My Life" written by Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and so far it has been insightful. The incidents he narrated show yesterday's men were men of character, purpose and devotion and they gave their best.

It is a shame that the country is in this mess. More shame that we can't realise as black people there is work to be done. Pat Utomi writes and communicates well, but he lacks the magnetism of a politician and a leader that can stir and arouse one to become zealous for a cause. The fire is just not there. But, he has great insights and a knack for policy. I hope people like him continue to shed light on issues in the country

The guy's campaign was a lost cause. He managed it so shabbily and didn't show the organizational skills expected of a good leader. I can't trust someone like that with my life. I hope as he develops and matures in the business of politics he learns a thing or two that might be helpful. The Awolowo's, Azikwe's and the Bello's were men's men. They had the passion and that fire was there. Reading Sir Ahmadu Bello's autobiography you will realise these folks had the best of education.The guy communicates extremely well and has that uncommon gift of speaking to the guts of your soul,you knew immediately he was sincere.

Where we all went wrong is the question we should be asking ourselves , why God has punished us with these leaders is what we should be asking ourselves. And these leaders are in our everyday lives and they include our activists too.
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Ikechiji posted on 05-23-2007, 08:44:36 AM
QUOTE:

Since all the losing candidates and losing parties knew several months before the election that PDP would rig the election (having previously rigged two elections) and yet the other political parties did nothing to prepare their supporters to either rig or prevent the rigging


Simple - You cannot stop a guy Ewu Iwu from sitting in his office in Abuja and announcing any numbers he wants. That is what the last "election" came down to!

QUOTE:

why should we, the average helpless Nigerians, now go on the street to protest? Is it so that we can put the same losing parties, who were too weak or too disorganized, in power? Or is it to shame the PDP? Or is it for the phantom ideal called democracy? Or is it protesting for the sake of protesting?


For the sake of your children and grandchildren.

What we have now as the Prof. points out is a choice between anarchy and revolution! Anarchy - because the govt has lost respect for the constitution and rule of law. The analogy I like to use is the difference between corruption in Gowon's era and corruption now. In Gowon's era, you took 10% and still did the work. IBB took corruption to a new realm. In Abacha's era, they simply parked their cars at CBN and looted the money. By sitting dormant, we have watched a retrogression of our society.

- People now steal with impunity because there is no rule of law. Contractors dont even bother doing the work.

- Electoral officers now spew out whatever garbage numbers they want as "election results" because their master has their backs.

- The little infrastucture we have keeps decaying because their is no maintenance.

- Our wonderful universities that were highly ranked in the 50s and 60s are now no better than 44th in Africa.

- University graduates come out "uneducated" and with few job prospects. 419 beckons!

Anarchy or Revolution? - The choice is yours!

Odego
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Nawaya posted on 05-23-2007, 10:22:09 AM
In Gowon's era, you took 10% and still did the work.
In Shagari's, you took 50% and still did the work
In IBB's, you took 90% mobilisation fee and... what work?
In Abacha's, you park your car at CBN and looted
In Obj's, you just do electronic transfer from home, why bother to drive to the CBN?!!

Folks, that's how we got here.
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Lara posted on 05-23-2007, 15:34:36 PM
Typical response for a world anxious to see no evil and hear no evil as long as crude oil flows are not significantly disrupted, is to spray perfume over the mess, and carry on business as usual.
Re: Electoral fraud: Of meaning and consequence
Lara posted on 05-23-2007, 15:37:44 PM
It will be wrong, as Nigerians often expect, that the task of saving Nigeria can be domiciled with some messiah or taken up by foreign powers, yet those foreign powers will do wrong not to acknowledge the desperate need for a change in the way things are done in Nigeria and perhaps provide support for such change effort by simply not pretending that all is okay. It is because they took that approach in 1999 that the abuse which left President Jimmy Carter, dumbfounded, became the travesty of 2003, and the international humiliation of 2007. Surely 2011 may leave no country if constitutional reforms and major culture change is not undertaken.
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