Governors Sule Lamido and Muazu Babangida Aliyu have failed to bell the Jonathan cat. It turned out that they are lily-livered, chicken, cowards and without balls. In March last year, Governor Aliyu had presented himself as the leader of the Northern Governors who had in his possession a signed commitment that Jonathan would only serve one term in office.
As leader of the Northern Governors forum, he mobilised his colleagues and within them constituted a hard core of five governors who would oppose the Jonathan second term agenda. The gang of five, apologies to Chinese politics, finally worked out what any elementary student of Nigerian politics knew, that you cannot prevent a sitting president from getting the presidential ticket of “his” party, They therefore decided their best chances of stopping Jonathan and one of them becoming president was to team up with the opposition APC. When the moment arrived, Lamido and Aliyu chickened out after a small threat. They however gave the impression that they were still committed to blocking President Jonathan within the PDP and maintaining their own personal presidential ambitions.
Babangida Aliyu looked a pathetic and unprincipled man when last week Thursday he came out to announce that they had decided in their party NEC the sole candidature for Jonathan. I have absolutely no problem with people ardently supporting the Jonathan second term bid. I also believe that Jonathan has every right to contest again in 2015 even if some lawyers have their doubts. My problem is that people like Governors Aliyu and Lamido should stand by their words and resist intimidation even if they are politicians. As they join the bandwagon, I guess they know what they will gain. I can only tell them it has a cost; they have lost their reputation as human beings.
The same week, the Senate President, David Mark flew the kite. In the opening session of Senate following their long break, he declared on the 2015 election that “There is no question of election, it is not even on the table. We are in a state of war.” Of course it became an issue because Section 135 of the Constitution allows for six-monthly postponements of elections with the approval of Senate when the country is at war and it’s territorial integrity violated.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu has been on a campaign for sometime calling for the postponement of the elections. There is no doubt that a kite to stop the February elections has been flown. Although an aide to President Mark has said his principal was misquoted it is not difficult to know what the denial is meaningless as the statement, which was made in a public forum and recorded is so clear.
As the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigerian continue the roll out of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign, it is curious to see their insistence that no PDP member will be allowed to contest against the President. The PDP Governors Forum, National Executive Committee and Board of Trustees have all taken the position that no one will be allowed to contest for presidential nomination against the President Jonathan. We all know however that the Electoral Act 2010 as amended bars all parties from imposing a candidate. The law is clear that all PDP members, including the chicken Governors – Lamido and Aliyu have every right to seek their party’s nomination.
I hope INEC will stand its ground to make it clear to the PDP that they cannot deny PDP members the right to exercise their powers to contest for the opportunity to access that sweet office in Aso Rock that sits Oga President GCFR. As the kites fly and the chickens cringe there has been an unprecedented attack on INEC and its Chairman, Attahiru Jega these past few days and I began to wonder.
The massive level of criticisms against the Independent National Electoral Commission and the calls for Jega to resign over the issue of polling units was surprising. Why should the decision of INEC to sanitise the Polling Units generate such controversy? As Jega explained in his press conference, it was necessary to decongest over-crowded PUs and disperse voters as evenly as possible among all the Pus.
The present structure of polling units was created way back in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON), which created 120,000 polling units and 8,809 wards (Registration Areas). This structure of polling units has been used for the 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011 general elections. We are all witnesses to the congested polling units on election days in 2011 and since then in many parts of the country.
As he pointed out, it is clear that from 1996 to date, there has been an exponential growth in Nigeria’s population; and there have been severe demographic shifts resulting from new settlements in major urban areas. For example, in 1996 when the current polling unit structure was established, the estimated population of the Country was about 110 million. In 2006, after a national population census, the population was 140 million. In 2011, when the voters’ registration was undertaken, the population was estimated to be about 160 million.
In 1996, the FCT had less the 300,000 inhabitants. Today, over three million Nigerians from all parts of the country who have moved into Abuja. So many parts of the FCT have no polling units at all because they simply did not exist when the polling units were decided in 1996. Clearly, there has been two major demographic shifts that have occurred which necessitate an increase and a redistribution of polling units.
The first is a significant increase in our population which the second is a shift of the population from the rural hinterland to urban centres with Abuja being the fastest growing city in the world. Going back to the kite being flown, the tenure of most of the INEC Commissioners, including the Chairman Attahiru Jega will expire in June next year. Are the personal attacks on Jega a prelude to postponing the elections and using that window to appoint a more “cooperative” Chair for the electoral body? I think all democrats must be on their toes to defend our hard earned democracy.
Dr Sani Muazu: A Teachers Teacher
The death of our senior colleague and mentor, Dr Sani Muazu on 13th September has been very painful. Mallam Sani was born in 1940 and returned to ABU as a lecturer following his PhD in Cambridge University in 1973. He was the head of the biology department from 1976 to 1980 and was the first Ahmadu Bello University academic to voluntarily relinquish headship and all “university politics and posts” to devote himself full time to the primary responsibility of teaching his students. Mallam Sani was a devoted teacher for over forty years, a great botanist with keen interests on healthy local foods, a simple and humble human being, a good friend and mentor. He had opportunities when some of his personal friends ruled Nigeria to “progress in life”. He refused offers and decided that the only thing he will do in life is to teach his students. We thank God for his life of service, RIP my mentor. Did I hear them say someone deserves a national honour? I know someone who honoured his students and knowledge, shunned wealth and power and died without being noticed.
Dr. Ibrahim, a senior fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, and Chairman of Premium Times’ editorial board, writes a Monday column on politics, policy, social life and global events from abuja. T: @Jibrinibrahim17, E: email@example.com