By Tochukwu Ezukanma
In both 2011 and 2015 presidential elections, I voted for Mohammadu Buhari because then I believed he will be a refreshing contrast to Goodluck Jonathan, whose moribund, visionless and rudderless governance was running the country aground and accentuating all its societal ills. I was nostalgic for Buhari’s earlier stint as a military ruler when his military government was guided by a clear vision of revamping a hobbled economy, and fighting corruption, indiscipline, and civic indifference. Then, his administration, in its military ethos, was tough-handed in its approach to attaining its stated goals and objectives. It was my belief that a visionary, tough-minded and tough-handed leader, operating within the confines of a democratic constitution, will be a model for Nigeria that motivated my repeated votes for him.
Disappointingly, Buhari turned out a terrible president. There are so much that is glaringly wrong with his presidency. The most reprehensible and inexcusable of them is his tacit support for the mass-murder of the innocent by Fulani herdsmen. The murderous binge of the herdsmen in North-Central, South–East and South-West of Nigeria is inconceivably coldblooded. Television footages of the dead, including babies and pregnant women, murdered in the most gruesome ways, are heartrending. To the consternation and disgust of Nigerians, in this instance, President Buhari refused to respect that central tenet of the Nigerian constitution, which he swore to uphold: to secure the lives and property of Nigerians. Buhari and his security chiefs prevaricated and equivocated as well armed Fulani herdsmen continued to rape women and massacre men, women and children, and torch and sack entire communities.
These herdsmen are not a band of bloodthirsty renegades on the prowl to kill and destroy but the foot soldiers of an orchestrated Fulani expansionist policy. Buhari is not only privy, but also, complicit of this blood-drenched Fulani expansionism. Just months before the presidential election, the herdsmen, for the most part, suspended their murderous spree because it was exposing Buhari for what he really is: an avowed Islamic fanatic, unrepentant tribal bigot and unabashed Fulani irredentist. To allow for the burnishing of his image, and thus, enhance his re-electability, the herdsman’s murderous extravaganza stopped. With his re-election, the Fulani will embark of a second, and even bloodier, and more ferocious and ruthless, phase of their expansionism. In addition to providing the enabling environment for the second phase of Fulani blood-soaked irredentism, Buhari’s second term will also visit enormous miseries on Nigeria. It will be a perilous and regrettable episode of Nigerian history.
Despite its splendor, democracy fails to guarantee the election of good leaders; it only makes possible the removal of bad leaders. Nigerians were therefore resolute on removing Buhari on February 23rd 2019; we massively voted against him. Paradoxically, as the presidential election results became available, he won the election. Like the generality of Nigerians, I was totally devastated. However, if Buhari’s victory is real; then the majority of Nigerians have spoken. And, irrespective of our personal feelings and political affiliations and predilections, we have no choice but to obey the voice of the people, hail the re-elected president and totally support him for the next four years. After all, democracy is the tyranny of the majority.
But then, there are nagging questions that impugn the validity of the presidential election result. For example, the number of votes cast in Jigawa State (1.15 million) and Lagos State (1.16 million) are comparable. Ironically, Lagos State has 6.57 million registered voters and Jigawa State has 2.11 million. Secondly, the incredibly high voter turnouts in some of the war-torn states are suspect. For security reasons, elections could not hold in some local government areas of these states and many inhabitants of the Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) camps strewn across the states had no access to polling units. The opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, succinctly summed up, “One obvious red flag is the statistical impossibility of states ravaged by the war on terror generating much high voter turnouts than peaceful states”.
Across board, it seems that the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) understated voter turnouts in the Atiku strongholds and overstated them in Buhari strongholds. There are also allegations that based on the figures collated by the People Democratic Party (PDP) and the foreign observers, Atiku Abubakar won the election with about 2 million votes but the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, playing a script by his All Peoples Congress (APC) masters, doctored these figures to ensure a Buhari victory.
Encouragingly, the PDP and many Nigerians have refused to accept the presidential election result. It is imperative that they retain this stance until all the presidential election anomalies and contradictions are sorted out and ironed out. Atiku has indicated that he will challenge the result in court. The Buhari administration must have, for long, planned to rig the 2019 presidential election. And in anticipation of the possible fallouts of the rigging, including the legal challenge of the election result, it precipitously and unconstitutionally suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, and replaced him with Ibrahim Mohammed. Justice Mohammed is considered amenable to subvert justice in furtherance of APC political designs.
However, irrespective of the Buhari administration’s political intrigues and sleight, if it is finally proven that the presidential election was rigged in favor of President Buhari, it will be impossible for him to remain as president because no one man, due to his greed for power and command of the gun, can repudiate the collective will of the people.
Tochukwu writes from Lagos, Nigeria.