by Femi Aribisala
If Nigeria is a nation of laws and of the rule of law, the presidential candidacy of Muhammadu Buhari should end this week. The reason is well-known to all. Buhari swore an oath on his INEC application that his credentials are with the military. This turned out to be an outright lie. The military has come out to deny that it has Buhari’s credentials. That means Buhari committed perjury instead of fulfilling INEC requirements. For this reason, he must be disqualified from contesting the presidential election.
The matter has been taken to court and the courts should decide the matter this week. I am not a lawyer, but from my layman’s perspective, this is an open and shut case. Buhari lied willfully. As a former military secretary of the Nigerian army, he knew that the military does not keep any credentials of its service-men. Nevertheless, he lied on oath that his credentials are with the military. He must face the penalty for this perjury. There can be debate about whether, and for how long, he should go to jail.
However, there can be no question about his resultant ineligibility to contest: he must be disqualified. To overlook this infraction is to succumb to Buhari’s appraisal that Nigeria is corrupt. If we are going to deal with corruption, we must not fail to deal with the likes of Buhari, who are contemptuous of the laws of the land. Buhari’s false affidavit is corruption.
The disqualification of Buhari by the courts will be a testament to the determination of the judiciary to show zero tolerance for corruption in the coming new dispensation. Some of us have watched APC make a song and dance about the possibility of postponing the 2015 elections. The party brought out all its big guns to tell us that the election cannot be postponed. They insisted that if it is postponed all hell would break lose. Well, the election has been postponed and nothing has happened. It has been postponed and the APC can do nothing about it. It was postponed according to the law.
Similarly, the heavens will not fall with the lawful disqualification of Buhari. Everybody knows that Buhari lied under oath. The blunder must be laid fully at the doorstep of the APC. Of all those it could present as its presidential candidate, it chose a former coup plotter without the appropriate credentials. APC has nobody to blame but itself for this fiasco. It has forfeited its chance of presenting a candidate for the 2015 presidential election. The contest should now be between the remaining 13 presidential candidates. Shikenan!
Jega must go immediately
The excuse used to force Attahiru Jega to postpone the elections is the inability to provide effective security given the insurgency in the North-East.
However, there is little likelihood that the security situation will improve within the next six weeks of the postponement. So, strictly-speaking, security has nothing to do with the postponement. One major reason for the postponement was to prevent INEC from compromising the election. INEC has long ceased to be a disinterested umpire in this election. The evidence is now overwhelming that INEC is determined to bias the election in favour of Muhammadu Buhari and the APC.
This is evident in INEC’s determination to go ahead with the election in spite of the fact that out of 68 million registered voters, over 20 million have yet to receive their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs). It is remarkable that, in announcing the postponement, Jega conveniently forgot to mention the nagging issue of the inadequacies of INEC in providing voters with their PVCs. It is also remarkable that Jega briefed the Council of States that INEC was ready to conduct the elections.
This was one big lie. You cannot be ready to conduct elections when there is a cacophony of complaints, especially in the South, that people are unable to claim their PVC’s. Given the time it took INEC to distribute 40 million PVCs, it could not have realistically expected to be able to distribute the outstanding 20 million in just one week?
What is even more sinister is INEC’s willful determination to disenfranchise select geopolitical regions which represent areas of strength for Goodluck Jonathan. Credible Alternative Alliance, an independent political interest organization led by former Kaduna State governor, Balarabe Musa, observed in INEC activities: “a criminal gross disparity of voter spread designed to tilt the election to a pre-determined outcome.” It said: “Voters in the zones that tend to support President Goodluck Jonathan are massively disenfranchised by the application of the so-called PVCs debacle, 40% to 50% of voters in the these regions who are lawfully and duly registered to vote will be denied their right to vote by INEC. That is nearly half of the support base of the President, simply nullified by administrative failure prior to the election. By comparison, the zones that tend to support Buhari are handed a massive voter advantage, nearly 80% of his support base will be allowed to cast their votes by INEC.”
“In an election, which many say will be won or lost by a slim margin, to now disenfranchise 20 million voters through a questionable and unlawful rule by INEC is not acceptable by any measure. CAA condemns it in its entirety this attempt by INEC to undermine our nascent democracy through this criminal enterprise to determine the outcome of this election before the ballot is cast.” This position is corroborated by different observers in the field. INEC needs to explain how more people in the war-torn North-East have collected their PVCs than in the South-West, South-South and South-East. In the APC strongholds of the North-West and the North-East, 80.18% and 81.09% collection rates were recorded respectively. In the North-Central, the figure was 69.89%. However, the figures in the South were significantly lower than these. In the South-East, it was 59.22%. South-South: 66.66%; and South-West 43.15%.
Since INEC under Jega is no longer an independent umpire but is now clearly working for the opposition, Jega should be sent on compulsory leave and a temporary chairman should nominated to handle the elections. Jega can no longer be trusted.
The mischief of Former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi
Former Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, caused uproar when he declared that $49.8 billion of Nigeria’s oil money was missing, allegedly diverted by the NNPC. For a Central Bank governor, the statement was not only irresponsible, it was downright mischievous.
If it were not that Nigeria is an innumerate society where we have little or no understanding of figures, it would have been obvious that, for the size of the Nigerian economy, it was impossible for such a large sum to be missing. However, the allegation fell into the narrative of the opposition APC party which was determined to portray the Jonathan Administration as the most corrupt in the history of Nigeria.
There was a lot of hue and cry in the press about the missing money; after all, the claim was made by the Central Bank governor no less. However, the governor seemed to have plucked the missing figure out of thin air. Soon, it was not $49.8 billion at all, but $10.8 billion. Then again, it was no longer $10.8 billion but $20 billion. It should have been clear from all this that the CBN governor was just fibbing. But in Nigeria, we are socialized to believe the worst.
General Buhari, the APC presidential candidate, has used this fictitious $20 billion dollars to preach his own school-certificate economics on the campaign stump. He said: “$20 Billion at N210 to $1.00 is equal to N4.2 trillion- nearly a year’s federal budget.”
If so, how can Buhari believe an amount nearly equal to Nigeria’s annual federal budget could possibly be missing? No matter how corrupt a nation can be, it is ridiculous to presume that public officers would go ahead and steal the entire annual federal budget? Haba! Buhari then used this malarkey to formulate his own voodoo economics. He said: “If it is true that this sum cannot be accounted for, this is the grossest form of corruption. Just think at N5 million per vehicle, this money would have bought 840,000 patrol vehicles; (this would have improved security in every town and village in the country). At N13.5 million for a high capacity bus this money would have bought 311,000 buses; (this would have revolutionised the transport and production side of the economy).”
It is this kind of rudimentary economics that Buhari has been presenting as an excuse for an economic policy to Nigerians in this election season. Just listen to this vain platitude from our eminent retired general. He says: “The monies we realise from anti-corruption campaign will be adequately used to improve education in the country.” Now that is an economic policy that is practically meaningless.
Because of the nuisance value of men like Buhari, the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was constrained to ask for a forensic audit of NNPC accounts in order to put the matter to rest. She chose PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC); one of the big four auditors in the world, along with Deloitte, EY and KPMG. PwC has now provided a conclusive report that shows Sanusi’s allegation of a missing $20 billion is one big fabrication.
This matter needs to be emphasized now that the report is out. Lamido Sanusi lied. The Central Bank governor deliberately cried wolf when he jolly well knew there was no wolf. He was just determined to malign and discredit the government; and he was playing a script to the benefit of the opposition APC. This then lends credence to the PDP allegation that Sanusi was an APC mole in the government.
Indeed, the PDP claims Sanusi gave the APC 1 billion naira of Central Bank money to open its offices nationwide. It also maintains that a fraudulent 48 billion contract was awarded by Sanusi’s CBN to a leader of the APC, while a further 5 billion was paid to another APC member as consultancy fee. So much for APC’s anti-corruption hogwash!
– Femi Aribisala is a scholar and international affairs expert. He is also an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.