Lip service to democracy is not enough

Hassan Dan Zara

Recently, a Nigerian Harvard scholar and lawyer, AminuGamawa wrote on his Facebook page, expressing concern at the tendency of political parties monopolizing all the available seats at an election in States under their control. According to Gamawa, all political parties, whether in the opposition or not, must be committed to the basic principles of democracy. The Harvard scholar, who was reacting to the outcome of the local government elections held in Kano State, wondered how the APC claimed to have won all the 44 seats up grabs while their rivals got not a single seat!
Gamawa, who admitted that he is never a PDP sympathizer, however argued that the duty of free and fair elections is also binding on opposition parties in states under their control. He argued that there must be a level playing field for all contestants, regardless of whether you like the ruling PDP or not. Gamawa’s article is one of the frankest and bluntest I have ever read in respect of the issue of free and fair elections.
As far as I am concerned, Gamawa was preaching to the converted because he spoke the minds of many Nigerians who ignore the ignoble roles of the so-called State Electoral Commissions that perfect rigging at local levels. The local government is the lowest level of democratic representation.

Therefore, if rigging is permitted at that level, then other levels of democratic representation may be inevitably affected.
Whenever the PDP wins elections in states where the party is in control, the opposition APC will always shout about rigging. However, when the opposition party wins all the seats available at an election in states under their control, they congratulate themselves on conducting free and fair elections! I still remain unconvinced that former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau could not have won a single seat in Kano state in a free and fair election.
Surprisingly, the same CPC leaders didn’t see anything wrong in Buhari taking a dominant lead in the Northwest! The Northwest is Buhari’s safe political territory, but the CPC opponents of President Jonathan didn’t want to acknowledge the same reality in the South-South and Southeast in favour of Jonathan.

In the case of Kano state, Shekarau is not a new comer in politics. He is a grassroots politician with a remarkable track record of performance. Therefore, nobody would ever convince me that PDP didn’t win a single seat or could not have won any at all in Kano State. Despite the criticisms against INEC, it is still more credible than State Electoral Commissions.
Under the AttahiruJega-led INEC, PDP lost elections to the opposition APC such as Edo State. It is impossible for governorship elections conducted by State Electoral Commissions to have produced the same outcome. State Electoral Commissions are synonymous with the crudest and most primitive forms of rigging. Their rigging style is conducted on such shameless scale that they don’t even hesitate for a moment to think about its future implications.

As AminuGamawa argued, the Kano state Electoral Commission was so carried away by the notion of total victory that it didn’t care to reflect on its implications for the opposition APC in PDC controlled States. As Gamawa brilliantly argued, the PDP Governors would take a cue from the outcome of the Kano State local government elections and annihilate the opposition candidates in any local government elections conducted by their own Electoral Commissions. This is the potential danger the Kano state Electoral Commission has created. It may boomerang against APC in PDP controlled States, and nobody should sympathize with opposition members if they become victims of their own political greed and naivety.

Dan Zara wrote from No. 76, AhmadouAhidjo Street, Asokoro, Abuja. Email: [email protected]