The integrity of the supplementary election IDEAS Radio Episode 28

IDEAS Radio 22 March 2019 

Aghogho Oboh: Alright.  Welcome to Countdown 2019 on 99.3 Nigeria Info.  We’re discussing all the big and significant issues ahead of the elections.  Supplementary election coming up tomorrow, so we’re still on this one.

On the IDEAS segment with Ayo Obe which begins straightaway, we’re looking at the integrity of the supplementary election, as well as the big story which is coming out with respect to the Osun election where Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party, according to the tribunal has been declared the winner of that poll.  The court … the tribunal also declared that the certificate handed to Gboyega Isiaka be handed over to Ademola Adeleke, and saying that the supplementary election should never have happened in the first instance.

So this is the big story we’ll be looking at on the IDEAS segment with Ayo Obe.  You can follow the programme on Twitter @Countdown2019NG, @RotimiSankore, @NigeriaInfoFM, @ideasradiong.

We’re looking at the election overview on the other segment, but remember, on WhatsApp, you can send your comments, also if you’ve got questions at 08095975805. 

Good evening Ayo.

Ayo Obe: Hi Aghogho.  And we have a guest with us today as well!

AgO: Right, Achike Chude.  Achike Chude is a public affairs analyst of great repute, great rights activist also too.  Great to have you on Countdown 2019, of course, importantly also on the IDEAS segment. 

Achike Chude: Well, it’s a great show and I’m glad to be here.

AO: And Achike, I think you’re also involved with the Situation Room?

AC: Yes I am.

AO: The Civil Society Situation Room.  So I think that, although we were going to talk about the supplementary elections, I think that … and unfortunately, although we know the final decision of the Osun State Electoral, Election Tribunal, we don’t know the details of the reasons why the supplementary poll was declared unlawful, and so it’s going to be … we can’t really say whether it’s going to impact the supplementary polls that are going to be held now.  I think also that – and I know that you … that we just broke the news to you … as you were sitting there – so I’m not going to put you too much on the spot, but what are your reactions to that from an Integrity, Democracy, Ethics, Accountability point of view, because we’re always looking at the integrity of polls, and what does this mean, for …?

AC: Well, I would say that I mean, I was almost bowled over when I got that information just now, and it was, I would describe it as a tsunami of a decision, not that it was exactly expected.  I think Nigerians have become so cynical about the system, they have become so cynical about the institutions. And you know, that the funny thing about this kind of situation, with this ruling is that whichever way the ruling had gone, the other side would have said: Democracy, I mean democracy is working and that the courts are asserting their independence and all of that, even while they also look for ways to abuse the court processes itself.  

AO: Yes

AC: But of course, maybe it has worked the other way, but if there’s something, for instance I would say about what happened in Osun State and it is a fact that in a way, in a way, though we could not exactly prove what happened in Osun State, but I think really, that across the nation, there was broad based consensus that there was some bit of malfeasance in Osun State, and so I think a lot of people are going to be relieved in a way, about what has happened, but again, ultimately at the end of the day, the moral, the morals there is the fact that you want to win a victory in an electoral process, you have to do it within the ambits of the law.

AO: Well the thing about this Osun State result of the Election Tribunal –  of course, we have to put a little bit of caveat in, that the tendency of the losing incumbent is to appeal to the Court of Appeal …

AC: Yes, that is true.

AO: … and to string it out as long as possible, and that in fact is why we have Osun State off-cycle, and that in itself is also going to play out, because the ruling party was in power and it’s now filled the State House of Assembly.  So it’s going to be something for the incoming … if this result is upheld in the Court of Appeal – the incoming Governor is going to have to learn to govern a State with a House of Assembly, and the members of the State House of Assembly, as we’ve said previously on this programme, have a tendency to want to jump over to the winning side.  But when the winning side is only a winning side at the state level, but not at the federal level, there are so many permutations, and they all challenge the integrity of the dramatis personae.

AC: Yes it does, I mean, the fact that we have always complained about the fact that most of these people are not people empowered by any form of pro-people ideological compass, I think is also critical, because once you have people who could change their views or their opinions at the drop of a hat, you know, it tells a lot about the moral disposition and the moral imperatives of the driving force behind all of these people, and that is what we have seen, and ultimately really, it has a way of telling on our democratic expertise.  The fact that we’ve had over 50 years of Independence, about 20 years now of unbroken democracy, and you look around and you say: Look, what have we benefited exactly in 20 years? And you realise that the country to a very large extent is in shambles, economically, socially you know, and in so many other ways, our institutions have broken down. It must be as a result of the deficit of integrity by the practitioners of politics in our country. And so this is what exactly, you’re going to say, and it’s I think what is going to happen I’m glad you were the one  that mentioned it: the fact that it’s not yet Uhuru on any side.  All of them are going to wait, you know, till the final decision is taken, because the losing side will definitely go to the Court of Appeals, and they now wait.  And so there’s a possibility that the legislators who are there, who belong to the main party at the centre and the erstwhile ruling party in the state, will all wait, you know, with the possibility of either remaining where they are, or jumping ship immediately this man goes to the Court of Appeal.

AO: As we’ve seen in so many other places.

AC: As we’ve seen  in so many … and the thing, like people have said is that, it appears that the Nigerian politician has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing and so we keep on seeing a repetition of the mistakes of the past, and that is essentially because Integrity is not the basis of what they do.  Commitment to serve is not the foundational principle of their engagement within the politics of this country, I mean, of this country. And so they are more like fair weather politicians, blown by the winds in whatever direction the wind blows, they respond to it. And so it is something that we know has been a major deficit in the politics of this country, and this lack of integrity, this lack of consistency, has continued to do a lot of damage to the psyche of the Nigerian people and by and large the Nigerian nation.

AO: Thank you.  I think that you’ve given a tour de force in terms of reinforcing … 

AC: Merci beaucoup

AO: … the principles for which this programme exists.

Spreading our wings a little bit from Osun State, and looking at the supplementary elections that are coming up tomorrow; I’m just going to read you a little bit from an article by Jibo Ibrahim.  He’s talking about the situation in Kano. And he said:

“The major road has been tarred earlier this week.  Currently, 20 boreholes are being constructed in all parts of Gama, …”  [which is a suburb of Kano] “… none of them is completed and I suspect voters are thinking if we vote against Ganduje, will they ever be completed?  A lot of cash is flowing with direct payments being made to women to start businesses allegedly for poverty alleviation. Football kits are also due to be shared to selected clubs in the area on Thursday and a programme of improving mosques has been announced and Dr. Ganduje’s handlers have said that the governor will perform the congregational prayer there today.”

I just want to …  to … I mean, and there’s been some – not entirely cynical – desire expressed by some commentators that: Oh, we wish that we could have  these supplementary elections every time, because suddenly an area that was quite a slum had become a beautiful bride. This is the overt type of thing of government politics, government policies, and supposedly it is government policy, so it’s not vote buying per se, but we can also assume that where we have such a small concentration, you really have to concentrate your efforts in just a few places, that the likelihood of the sub rosa type of activity, the vote buying and other sorts of things, are also likely to show their head.  But what … how do you see the approach of – not just the candidates, but also of the voters when it comes to this sort of thing?

AC: You know, you know, some people, while not admitting that it is vote buying, some could look at it as vote inducement.  You know, but the reality is that, in a way it is insulting on the Nigerian people and it is a testimony of the fact that the political class believes that they have the mindset of the average Nigerian voter, and that at any particular point in time these mindsets can be twisted in a particular direction.  And I remember one of the things that happened, I mean, in terms of how Nigerians felt when just before the election, the President gave a State of the Nation address more or less about two three times, and instead of elate Nigerians … 

AO: This is a President who is not famous for talking to Nigerians. 

AC: Exactly.  And you know, instead of Nigerians to be happy with that they said: Oh, the President, now he can give State of the Nation addresses and so on, and rather like I said, that in a way, I think infuriated a lot of Nigerians that more could have been done before now.   And so, you look at this particular scenario for instance – and by the way, let’s just tell the people who will use that as a basis, as a bait to vote for the Governor who is doing this so late in the day, that those projects will probably last like six months, and after six months they will break down and they’re back to square one.  And that, at this level, it says something about the person behind this … the Governor in this sense, and like I said, it is also – how do I put it? It is also condescending on the people of Kano State that he thinks that they are so politically backwards in their thinking that they will not know the difference

AO: Well, but don’t we   … we’ve looked at these figures from Kano State before, and it’s clear that whichever way you want to cut it or slice it, that the PDP opposition had greatly increased its share of the vote.

Rotimi Sankore: Well in fact it overturned … 

AC: Yes.

AO: Yeah, I said  … well, the point is, that it cannot just be a matter –  I mean, and this is irrespective of the final outcome of the vote, but that the change between what they had at the national level and what they got at the state level, even before we get to the … 

RS: Final 

AO: … to this supplementary election shows that … 

RS: About 600,000 votes.

AO: … shows that the people are not so …  that the voters are being a lot more sophisticated.

AC: Oh, I think so.  I think so. I mean, the reality.  Look at the quantum of votes like you said, that they turned out in the presidential election and all of a sudden we see a reversal of that process, the same people … 

AO: At the same time …

AC:  … so there must be something that they have seen.   You know, in terms of the local governance of the state in the hands of Ganduje.  And so obviously the people have seen the difference. And whether this Ganduje can be able to turn out, to turn around all of this perception of him as a Governor that has not performed … 

RS: Some 40 or 50 thousand votes

AC: Exactly, a few days to the supplementary election.  I think again, the opposition that also has a stake in what is going on, now has to do their job, now has to do their work, because that is the duty of politicians … 

RS: Beyond that Achike, if I may add, in the context of campaign finance, we did discuss this severally on Countdown 2019, this is one of the reasons, I mean, this Ganduje embarking on a spree of projects one week to supplementary elections.  We discussed this when we discussed campaign finance. This is why in many countries it is illegal for the incumbent to start launching projects on the eve of election, and we really need to look at it in Nigeria, it has to be illegal, it’s the worst form of inducement if not buying, to use your incumbency.  Historically campaign finance just looked at abusing access to state television, radio, vehicles, aeroplane and all kinds of ways to sort of outspend your opponent … 

AO: Without actually spending money

RS: … without actually spending any money by using state resources.  But in the last three or four decades, campaign finance regulation has started to realise more and more, that actually, it is not just using state resources to travel or put up material, appear on  TV; that actually misusing state resources to direct projects at … to places where 

AO: Specific areas

RS: … specific areas where you may otherwise lose, in order to tip the balance, is actually illegal.  And we must get to that point in Nigeria. Indeed, I remember the last time I raised it someone said something: Eh, but should governance stop because there is election?  I said; It’s not governance! It’s not governance!

AO: Football kits are probably not governance.

But before we … because there’s something else that I wanted to look at.  For example, you talked about the President not talking. But the President, despite not talking, still got a lot of votes, as far as we know.  And I wonder whether some of the concerns that we raise are the concerns of the Twitterati or the Twittiverse; people who spend their lives on social media, and the extent to which a voter on the ground is able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and say: This is what the person says, this is what we have seen this person doing, and by the things we have seen this person doing, this is what we can say about their Ethics, their Integrity and so on, rather than some last minute flash … ‘flashing the cash’ so to speak.

AC: Yeah, well … like ultimately, the decision is down to the people and the decision is down to whatever perception they have about what any particular participant in the process is doing, whether last minute or no last minute.  You know, the reality, like I’ve said is that it is also left for the opposition to also weigh in on this situation and to be able to explain to the people exactly what is going on. And obviously the people in a way have made up their minds even before now, about what is happening.  And I also agree with the fact: that’s why the refrain, with some of the concerns that have been raised here, that’s why the refrain before now, immediately before the second election, the Governorship and State House of Assembly election was the issue of reform, reform, everybody was shouting it.  In fact, the Civil Society Situation Reform was talking about an inquiry, independent inquiry into what happened with this election and all of that.

AO: Well, but we had the previous  inquiries, and what we see with the Uwais Report on Electoral Reform  cherry-picking what suits the … because the ruling class in this sense …  I mean, it’s not that you are not a member of the ruling class Achike … but, it is more a matter of the …  those who are engaged in the politics of victory at all costs, that they form almost like an impenetrable wall for the bulk of the Nigerian people, and it’s a question whether the voters are going to continue to allow that situation to continue, because the reforms that have been introduced into the electoral system do put a bit more power into the hands of the voters.  That’s why the Governor is having to build boreholes, emergency boreholes and so on.

AC: Yes, I know, again, and we don’t want to … it’s not all about doom and gloom.  The reality is that we are having some changes. They could be subtle, you know, people are being empowered in terms of their thinking, renewed kind of thinking and all that, but we still have a long way to go because what you’re having is  systematic, systemic abuse of the process you know, with the kinds of structures that have been put in place, so even the very best intentions of the people will not be enough to change that system. And so I will use one word: Struggle. Who dares, who wins?  And the reality is that we have to embark on a period of struggle in this country to have the kind of reforms that we want. Because, I mean … and the thinking is really simple: People … somebody used a word, or a description to talk about what is going on in the country, and he described it as “organised chaos”, for instance,  the issue of the refineries: they are not going to work because somebody has to benefit from them not working. The healthcare for instance, institution might not exactly work because somebody benefits from the kind of chaotic situation you have with healthcare in the country and all of that, you know. So, and that’s why, so those people are not going to give up their privileges, they’re not going to put in place … 

AO: Well, no … Power that is just handed over without being forced to be handed over, has been neutralised.  So we have to recognise that, that if it’s handed over easily then it’s already meaningless.  

AC: Yes, exactly.

AO: Hence Independence!

AC: And again, maybe just to add to what you said, I think the late Dr. Tunji Braithwaite did say that: A people who have not mastered the art of putting worthy people in government will end up with criminals, charlatans and all kinds of undesirable elements.  And so, again, we can’t run away from the fact that when a country that is so blessed like Nigeria, not just in terms of resources but in terms of the population itself is clearly is a country that is destined for greatness. So if that country is not able to get to that level, something definitely has gone wrong with the people, especially those who are saddled with taking  the country to a higher 

AO: Entrusted, entrusted.

AC: Yes and that’s the word again.

AO: I have to stop, because our IDEAS segment  is only supposed to last for 15 minutes, and I think we’ve slightly overrun our time.  So I want to thank you very much Achike for being my guest on IDEAS radio.

AC: It’s a pleasure.

AO: I want to urge listeners to check us out on our website.  We’re up to date with our transcripts and you can also follow us on twitter @IdeasRadio. … @ideasradiong, sorry.  So back to you Aghogho, Rotimi.

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