One electoral menace that might have the longest lifespan even if Nigeria’s democracy gets fine-tuned is election violence. The reason for this is not far-fetched. The Police saddled with the responsibility of ensuring a violent-free voting exercise are being controlled by the President- a member of the ruling party- and with this setting; it is far from falsehood to say that they will do his party bidding whenever they are asked to.
The faint hope present to combat this anomaly rests with two sections of the government-The Legislature and the Opposition. Sadly, one of the two is in ‘bed’ with the executive while the other is doing all it could to woo the ruling party so as to cover its gory past actions. One expects the legislature to check the autocratic tendencies of the executive but no, it is frivolous bills that are being tabled to further kill the voices of citizens who question the government. The Bayelsa election exposes us to the sorry-state of the opposition and this impending waterloo is spearheaded by a former president, the birthday man, Goodluck Jonathan, who has never failed in presenting two differing faces to the world.
Call him the father of modern ‘un-working’ Nigerian democracy if you like, the Otuoke born politician has shown that he is not to be placed in the pedestal he currently sits. Many hailed the former president’s decision to concede defeat during the 2015 Presidential election as though he accepted that he was cheated. He was kicked out by the electorate and Presidency is no one’s birthright. He simply lost and honourably left, that’s it!
The November 16 election in his state further exposes one to another face of the ex-president. After the ex-president cast his vote, he berated the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the election. He severely criticised the commission saying its conduct of election is far from what occurs in saner countries.
After the election however, the leadership of the soon-to-be ruling party of the state visited the ex-president to dine and wine. When answering questions about their visit to Jonathan, they said the former president was happy with the conduct of the election. Goodluck Jonathan agreed with the APC that the election was free, fair and credible, they claimed.
Indubitably, the ex-president represents all Bayelsans since he broke the norm and got elected as President of the country. He is respected by all in the state, both the APC and the PDP. One naked truth however is that he hasn’t renounced his membership of the PDP and more clearly, he is yet to tear his membership card of the party like another two-faced ex-president did. The obvious body-language of the ex-president attests that he not only supported the APC in his state but also championed the ‘background’ campaign for the emergence of APC’s David Lyon.
Jonathan, just like opposition parties who fail to vote for their party’s candidate in the US Electoral College election, is a ‘faithless voter’. Leaders of political parties should be the most loyal especially when it comes to electioneering in their ‘apartment’. If Adams Oshiomhole were Uche Secondus, maybe Jonathan would be more infamous in the PDP by now.
While reacting to Jonathan’s apparent ‘party backstabbing’, the Bayelsa state governor, Seriake Dickson dolorously said “No politician has stood by Jonathan more than me. They simply used his name and image to legitimize illegitimacy; I can see the strategic content. They used Jonathan to expand the notion of disagreement and after the rigging to go to him like Pontius Pilate to wash off their hands and put it at his doorsteps to say he sanctioned it…”
Although Dickson tried hard to say the former president wasn’t a party to all that happened at the polls, he in fact implied it. The unsaid message in his outburst is that ‘Goodluck Jonathan apparently worked for the emergence of the APC’. The governor also tried to make light of the anti-party action of Jonathan but it’s too obvious to be hidden. That Jonathan worked for another political party at the expense of his is appalling but that is the PDP’s concern, what affects the masses is how he is being used to ‘legitimize illegitimacy’.
‘When there is no opportunity for one man one vote, there will be no accountability and no responsibility’, Jonathan once said. The Bayelsa election however negates what the ex-president claims to stand for. It wasn’t a case of one man, one vote in Bayelsa. YIAGA Africa, a civil society organisation that monitored the election, attests to this. The group exposed how the Bayelsa election result was manipulated. Fictitious figures were added to the result and this led to a ‘no man thousands votes’ scenario in the state. Far from what Goodluck Jonathan claims to depict.
Asides the vote rigging alleged to have taken place in the state, one other infamous vice that was rampant during the election was violence. From kidnapping of INEC ad hoc staff, forceful snatching of ballot box to shooting at some local governments. What baffles more is that no arrest has been recorded. It was the ex-president who once said ‘Our founding fathers did not dream of a country where neighbours and friends would exchange bullets in place of handshakes’, that was however the narrative of the election in some local governments in his state, Kinsmen exchanged bullets rather than handshakes. Goodluck Jonathan would have condemned this violence and walk his talk rather than dinning with some of the alleged architects of the pains melted on his people during the November16 governorship polls in Bayelsa.
Maybe it was a pay-back time for the PDP by Jonathan. The ex-president, in his book ‘Transition Hours’, accused some governors in the PDP of working against his re-emergence as president during the 2015 election. This however seems to be a bad payback for his party. Maybe Seriake Dickson indeed hasn’t been loyal to the ex-president or the PDP’s governorship candidate in the state is ‘unsellable’ as claimed by some analysts.
All in all, a fair and credible election devoid of such violence as seen in Bayelsa would have been a great score for Jonathan’s democrat face. But his presumed democrat ideology laced with Nigerian politics tradition wouldn’t have made that possible. Perhaps the ex-president walked the talk of his words when he was President that “We must quickly move away from partisan battlegrounds and find the national common ground”. One fact however is that Jonathan is indeed a PDP member and father to everyone even the APC in Bayelsa state.
Wish you a reflective 62 Years birthday!