By SOC Okenwa….
The 2019 general elections in Nigeria had come and gone but stories (the good, the bad and the ugly) abound across the federation. The good side of the tale is that Nigerians, despite the resounding disappointment of the political class, still mustered enough courage to go to the polls to choose their leaders — President, Governors and legislators — at the federal and states’ levels. The bad side of the coin happens to be the systematic ‘improvement’ in the rigging methods by both the ruling APC and the opposition PDP! And the ugly aspect of the polls had to do with the violence and consequent deaths recorded during the exercise.
In spite of the appeals, prior to the polls, from respectable responsible quarters for politicians to allow for a violent-free bloodless electoral outing blood still flowed in different cities and towns countrywide. Since the acquisition of power is generally seen wrongly as a sure source of making money and commanding and controlling men and resources politicians, reprobates et al, go to the extreme to be ‘elected’ by hook or by crook. And in seeking to do so decorum and best global democratic practices are often thrown to the dogs as ‘do-or-die’ mentality developed by Baba Obasanjo takes the centre stage. In the end heads are broken, lives lost and humanity diminished by our notorious penchant to win at all cost.
The gubernatorial polls took place on the 9th of March but in six states where the opposition PDP candidates were leading the elections were controversially declared ‘inconclusive’ by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for one reason or the other.
Now that the whole guber electoral battle had been waged and concluded definitively it remains to be seen how the ‘game’ at the election petition tribunal plays out. Among the 36 states two stood out in the revulsive politics leading to the guber polls: Ogun and Imo States.
Governor Rochas Okorocha and Senator Ibikunle Amosun had desperately sought to play godfathers but the National Chairman of their ruling party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, stood stoutly against them. He resisted the imposition moves vehemently denying Amosun and Okorocha such ignoble roles. Okorocha and Amosun, perhaps afraid of life after power, had wanted to anoint their successors, stooges they had prepared for office in order to cover their looting trace in power in Owerri and Abeokuta.
Okorocha, in his notorious executive ‘iberiberism’ had sought forcefully to impose his son-in-law, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, as Governor post-Okorocha. If that had succeeded then Imo State would have embraced the ‘Okorocharisation’ of the state with family, friends and cronies taking every juicy office. The ruling party, of which he is one of the founding members, had displayed leadership by saying no to the Okorocha antics. Another candidate other than Nwosu had won the party’s guber primaries.
Following this failure of the imposition plan orchestrated by the out-going ‘iberibe’ Governor the Okorocha crowd changed gear by dumping the APC party for another party in order to field Nwosu as a candidate. But it backfired as the PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha won the gubernatorial election. While the Governor whose braggadocio element is legendary remained in the APC his supporters moved en masse to the Action Alliance (AA).
As the election came Nwosu was defeated by Ihedioha and the opposition PDP snatched victory by exploiting the confusion in both the ruling APC and other opposition elements in the state. The APC candidate, Hope Uzodinma, came a distant third behind Okorocha’s Nwosu. Okorocha himself had contested the senatorial seat in his zone and ‘won’ on gun point! The INEC Returning Officer had told a stunned nation of a harrowing episode involving Okorocha loyalists and himself as he made to announce the result.
According to reports online the INEC man was forced to declare Okorocha the ‘winner’ but before doing so he mustered enough courage to declare publicly that his life was in serious danger owing to the Okorocha desperation to leave Owerri Government House for Abuja as a federal law-maker. Ever since then the certificate of return issued to other Senators-elect by INEC had been denied Okorocha. INEC had based its decision of withholding the certificate on the the grounds that the result was made “under duress”. Okorocha has taken his case to a court of competent jurisdiction for adjudication. The litigation is still on.
In Ogun state, the out-going Governor Ibikunle Amosun had perfected plans to install a stooge as his successor but Oshiomhole and the APC hierarchy had said no to such imposition. The state party primaries held produced Dapo Abiodun who went on to win the guber poll beating Amosun’s candidate the Allied Peoples Movement, APM’s Adekunle Akinlade. Amosun and Okorocha had since been suspended by the ruling party for their anti-party activities.
When President Muhammadu Buhari visited Ogun state on a campaign tour prior to the presidential election Amosun publicly declared support for Buhari but asked his supporters to vote for Akinlade during the guber poll. As the rally held in Abeokuta Amosun supporters were pelting the dignitaries (including the President himself) with stones and bottles and sachets of water as they spoke! The Lion of Bourdillon, the godfather of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, walked out angrily reportedly as Buhari seemed to endorse Amosun’s position.
Recently reports emerged online of how the out-going Governors have been busy awarding fictitious contracts, depleting the states’ treasuries by withdrawing colossal funds and offering employments to their cronies. In Nigeria transition at the guber levels sometimes are fraught with massive looting of funds and awarding of bogus contracts or commissioning of uncompleted projects by the out-going administrations.
First to fire the salvo was the winning PDP party whose state party Chairman, Charles Ezekwem, had, last month during a press conference in Owerri, accused Rochas Okorocha of withdrawing 17 billion Naira from four banks in three days and converting government property to personal use. Though Governor Okorocha dutifully denied the charge tongues were set wagging as to his real intentions and actions as May 29 draws ever closer.
In Ogun State the Publicity Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the ruling party, Tunde Oladunjoye, had accused the outgoing administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun of being busy with last-minute award of contracts, selling and secret recruitments into the civil service in order to “tie the hands” of Dapo Abiodun, the incoming Governor.
And in Ibadan, Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, Governor-elect, had accused Abiola Ajimobi, outgoing Governor of the state, of awarding contracts worth 30 billion Naira in one day! Governor-elect Makinde alleged that “documents that showed the list of roads which government had released/or planning to release almost N40bn for but which could not even take off before May 29” were in his possession. Even the First Lady of the state and her aides were not left out of the looting bazaar. Florence Ajimobi was said to be privy to the relocation of over 1 Billion Naira from the State House in Agodi to the private residence of the Ajimobis in Oluyole!
In all these cases the incoming Governors had issued warnings to banks and civil servants to be wary of ’emergency’ measures being taken by the incumbents. Any shady deal by the smart out-going Chief Executives may not be honoured by their successors thereby rendering such hasty governmental transaction or edict null and void.
The treasury hunters from Owerri to Ibadan down to Abeokuta must be reminded in good time that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) are yet to be disbanded. Again they need to know that the Buhari regime (in its disputed second rejuvenated term) is still interested in the much-vaunted (albeit tepid) anti-graft war. The last time we checked the agencies battling institutional and high-wire corruption are still very much around and active in pursuit of their missions.