Time To Scrap INEC! By Abiodun Awolaja
I must shift my original essay for this week, an overview of the projects of the Ogun State governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, to next week and focus on a critical issue as the 2023 general election kicks off today. And that is the descent of the Nigerian judiciary into utter disrepute. Some years ago, a famous judge was removed from office following established cases of unholy alliance with politicians and defiance of constituted authorities. Governors were removed at will, and it was the same set of judges that were circulated around cases, leaving their more gifted colleagues with nothing to do.
The fact, however, remains that given its overarching influence on Nigeria’s political process at the moment, it is safe to say that the Nigerian judiciary has decided to be the Decider, Chief Regulator and Sole Administrator of the political process. That being the case, there is no need to pretend that we still have the democracy envisaged by the founding fathers/mothers of the country and the framers of the (admittedly defective) 1999 Constitution. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which pretends to organise elections, must go! It has outlived its usefulness and its operations must be declared null and void and of no moment! As a matter of fact, the appointment of the INEC boss, Mahmood Yakubu, has not been made at any time and must be set aside!
If judges, because of pure mischief, have decided to subvert the political process by assuming the power to decide who governs us regardless of what we do at the ballot, then there is no need to organise elections any more. And if there is no need for elections, just what do we need Yakubu’s INEC for? Yes, Yakubu is a great guy but he is hereby de-commissioned and un-INECed! Already, as Nigerians head to the polls today barring any last minute change of plans, the Supreme Court has left people of conscience in a daze with its pronouncement that it would not be a scapegoat “whether they obey it or not.” It is interesting that the apex court recognises that its orders are now mere suggestions, yet thinks it can escape scapegoatism by a distraught populace after its intervention in the naira war!
As reported by Premium Times last week, a federal lawmaker representing Uyo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Michael Enyong, had (at least temporarily) replaced Umo Eno as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State for this year’s general election. The paper’s checks on INEC’s website showed that Mr. Enyong had replaced the validly elected candidate, Umo Eno, who happens to be Governor Udom Emmanuel’s preferred successor. Eno had won the PDP primary last year, but INEC cited “court order” as the reason for his replacement marked “amendment 4” on its website. The commission was in attendance when the PDP conducted its governorship primary at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on 25 May last year, with Eno, a former Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources in the state, polling 993 votes to clinch the ticket. His closest rivals, Onofiok Luke and Akan Okon, had only three votes each in a primary that recorded two void votes from the 1, 018 delegates accredited for the exercise. But because of an excited, activist court, a “candidate” who did not even participate in the said primary was magically transported into the list of candidates for the 2023 election!
Here’s the gist: a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Fadima Aminu gave the “landmark” judgment on January 20, ordering INEC to forthwith recognise and publish Mr Enyong’s name as a candidate of the PDP for the 11 March governorship election in Akwa Ibom. Here’s the part of the story that triggered this piece: “Enyong, however, emerged a winner in a primary that was conducted in his house at Ewet Housing Estate, which was not monitored by INEC officials as mandated by the law.”
Folks, we are in trouble in this country! The judiciary is going to the dogs! Just how could a court, ANY court, have pronounced an aspirant who conducted a so-called primary in his own house and pronounced himself the winner of the validly elected governorship candidate? Whatever happened to commonsense? It does not matter that a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Hamman Barka has already restored Eno’s mandate and that this has just been affirmed by the Supreme Court. The fact is that any system that permits the kind of judgments being churned out these days can only hasten the death of democracy. Mr. Enyong did not bother to attend his party’s primary; he organized a sham exercise in his compound, declared himself winner, and thereafter proceeded to get the results validated by the Federal High Court! Yeeparipa! The implication, in case you are missing the point, is that tomorrow, a wealthy criminal serving time in Kirikiri could conduct a primary in his cell, go to court, and have his name listed among the candidates for election!
Look at the Supreme Court. It awarded the governorship of Imo State to a candidate who came fourth at the actual election conducted by INEC, accepting bogus figures that made a computational mess of the actual electoral figures. INEC, the real body mandated by law to tell Nigerians who won elections, had to comply or be cited for contempt, and an unelected moron was imposed on the good people of Imo State. With that judgment, Imo State descended into the abyss, and may never be rescued.
But the court was not done: It recently awarded two senatorial seats to individuals who, before our very eyes, had participated in the APC presidential primaries as aspirants! Well, since I am from Lagos State, perhaps it is time to approach the court with a fantastic case asking it to throw away both Sanwo-Olu and Jandor and offering myself as a replacement for both! Ahead of my anticipated electoral win, I would relocate Alausa to my residence in Ibadan and sack all nosey civil servants! Ladies and Gentlemen, that is where we are at the moment. Remember this as you vote today.