Politics of Thuggery and Chaos
Monday, May 21, 2007.
The past few weeks have been illuminating for the non-initiate as regards the means and ways of politicking in Nigeria.
Ballot boxes snatched, voters and security agents maimed and killed, riotous protests, arson, armed gangs of thugs, soldiers and police using coercion to force people to vote for their benefactors. In addition, election officials were assaulted and some were killed, and an attempt to blow up the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja was made.
All these are scenes reminiscent of a D-rate Nollywood movie, except it was enacted in real life. One might sooner be safer it seemed, in Kabul, Mogadishu or Faluja.
Nigerian politics has become a do-or-die affair where the only rule of the game is survival of the fittest, regardless of crudeness or brutality. The extent and level of violence that marked the April 14 and April 21 elections is enough to have the elections canceled since they were not in any respect free and fair. The daunting security and logistical issues facing the INEC made the commission inept.
The Atiku Abubakar ruling of the Nigerian Supreme Court came only a few days to the election, making it almost impossible to amend the 60 million ballots to include Atiku Abubakar, the embattled incubent Nigerian Vice President, on the list of candidates. In the end, the commission settled for a sticker.
Also, the hostile nature of communities in opposition strongholds all over the country, particularly in the Niger Delta made it a precarious endeavor for INEC officials to administer elections in these areas (indeed some were reportedly killed).
Add to this, the dire transportation situation in Nigeria and what you have is a near impossibility to have the elections commence on time all over the country. There are reports of elections commencing as late as in certain states and even an extension of voting into the next day, April 22, 2007.
In the end, INEC released a result declaring Yar’Adua as the winner and the elections as free and fair. Yar’Adua probably truly won the elections since the PDP has the largest following in Nigeria.
However, the chaotic and violent conduct of the election gnaws at the legitimacy of this victory. If the elections were not free and fair, should the results hold? Some quarters believe it should since all parties were involved in the display of violence and chaos.
Veracity is a writer and political pundit. He blogs frequently at Nigerian Polity.
Please e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org