Principles and Practice of Rigging in Nigeria Since 2015
By Israel Ebije
The way and manner elections in a country are conducted reflect on the national patriotic stance of the political party in power. In the case of Nigeria, it has been a steady downward slope from plausible general elections in 2015 which saw the exit of a sitting president to a gangster voting practice characterized by violence, inducements and intimidations four years after.
The Kogi state governorship election is not only barbaric but a statement against the unpatriotic intent of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) against Nigerians. They worked the rigging wheels to favour the worst governor in the history of Nigeria.
Certainly, dark clouds hover above Nigerians. The country has witnessed systemic collapse on daily bases since 2015. Every part of Nigeria’s architecture is in ruins. The judiciary, legislature and security agencies are now integral parts of the executive. Those in power have perfected strategies to cage the system for total control. The just-concluded charade in Kogi and Bayelsa is a clear signal that Nigeria inches dangerously towards the fringes.
From Ekiti, Osun, Kano, Nigerians have been denied rights to vote for candidates of their choice. The principles and practice used in stealing votes to first engage the police, then the judiciary and if necessary the legislative arm of government. Breaking down the strategy engaged, the police and sometimes soldiers are used to enforce compliance. To further their Intensions, thugs are dressed in police or army uniforms with sophisticated weapons to intimidate electorates.
Further exposure of election enforcers has revealed that the other remnants of hired thugs are deployed to areas incumbents know they have few or zero supporters. They are required to execute the worst form of violence, ranging from hijacking and burning of sensitive materials to outright killing of whoever resists them. While these hired thugs are at it, the police who have been properly briefed to offer no resistance, flee from the scene to return when the damage is done.
Before I conclude on the security aspect of rigging under APC, I will highlight the role of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC). They are responsible for registering voters. With such powers in their discharge, they have perfected the game of numbers. With the help of the heavily corrupt commission, a community of 10,000 people can have 200,000 registered voters. Usually, the areas of strength of the party in power are bloated, that way ballots are thumb printed to fill up the balance. Areas of opposing votes are naturally more populous but INEC knows how to make their number irrelevant.
Let me go back to the security aspect of the rigging trend and tie it up with all collaborators diminishing our democratic experience and pushing Nigeria towards the cliff. The police will express bitterness on the rate of “violence”, complain that political parties are irresponsible- play to the Galery as much as they can. INEC will condemn the violence in strategically targeted areas and order cancellation. This action will appear impartial but the game of numbers as explained earlier has already sealed the fate of the opposition party.
The court is the next destination. There are two types of judgments, one read from a scripted draft by INEC, police and hired witnesses and the other, which is mindless, reckless unconstitutional and bereft of common sense like the Buhari vs Atiku Supreme Court judgement explanation. The gavel drips and the wrong candidate is pronounced elected. This is regardless of Evident bad governance, poor treatment of civil servants, just the way Yahaya Bello did in the last four years.
I will also mention the role of the common Nigerians. Sad that governments have made Nigerians very poor. Sad that they know that people will vote once the money is used as bait, my grouse however is, Nigerian electorates have allowed leaders to continue exploiting them. There are two types of electorates, the educated and the uneducated. The uneducated electorate believes their votes do not count. The only way they can benefit from the government is to get paid for votes.
The educated electorates are the real problem. They are divided into two. The influencers and simpleton. Educated electorates know the truth, but decide to protect their own personal interests. The influencers are the middlemen. They are used by politicians to convince electorates to vote for the highest bidder. They are seen on social media advocating for their candidates or political party. The simpleton is the ones who will never participate in deciding who lead them. These simpletons will, however, lead campaigns for their chosen candidate to win the prize money for Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) reality show and other stupid errands of social media.
Nigeria has been figured out by the APC who have learnt and perfected on the gaps created by the previous ruling political party’s. With the newly engaged principle and practice of rigging deployed on Nigeria’s political space, Nigerians may no longer be able to bring in candidates of their choice to power. The country is dying in the hands of the worst leaders since independence. Votes can no longer count, Nigerians must, therefore, stand united to push out these unpatriotic fellows by all constitutionally necessary – which includes mass protest.