A pyrrhic victory built on quicksand by Segun Showunmi

A pyrrhic victory built on quicksand by Segun Showunmi
March 01 21:33 2019

”No evil deed can go unpunished. Any evil done by man to man will be redressed, if not now, then certainly later, if not by man, then certainly by God, for the victory of evil over good can only be temporary.” – Dele Giwa (1947-1986) 

At a time like this when Nigeria is on the edge and democracy is on trial; just after the people’s free will to choose their leaders was snatched in broad day light by a career dictator, one cannot help but reca ll the legendary story of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at the Battle of Heraclea in 280 (BC) and also at the Battle of Asculum in 279 (BC), but lost his best officers and many of his troops. King Pyrrhus won the two wars but lost everything dear to him in this world – his troops, his dignity and honour.

While President Muhammadu Buhari of modern day Nigeria continues to bask in the euphoria of his own Pyrrhic Victory by clinking wine glasses with his co-travelers, it is – unlike King Pyrrhus in the Greek mythology – difficult to say President Buhari feels any sense of loss over the avoidable death of 39 young innocent Nigerians who were cut short in their prime so that he could win an undeserved second term in office. Unlike King Pyrrhus also, it doesn’t look like the President is aware (He is hardly aware of anything these days) that whatever ounce of integrity that remained attached to his name has gone with the wind of the disaster he and his goons unleashed on a hapless nation on that sad Saturday. The President is also most likely not to be aware that in the twilight of his long and eventful career in public service he is leaving a legacy of hunger, tyranny agony, sorrow, tears and blood.

Does it look like he cares? No he doesn’t. In fact, it was President Buhari who in the fit of rage over an impending defeat who unleashed the military and other security agencies on Nigerians by asking them to shoot and kill anyone who tries to snatch a ballot box or commit any electoral crime that may threaten his Pyrrhic Victory. The military got the message (anyone who stands against Buhari legitimately or otherwise is an enemy of the nation who must be brought down) and the likes of Bola Tinubu, Godswill Akpabio, Yahaya Bello, Rotimi Amaechi, Nasir El-Rufai etc also rightly decoded the message and hell was let loose on the opposition on that fateful Saturday in their respective domains.

President Buhari’s unpresidential call for jungle justice was not however the first telltale sign that his administration was planning to take us to the Stone Age with the charade they call election. It was actually the unpardonable international embarrassment caused by the postponement of the election on February 16 which was not announced until few hours to the poll when millions of Nigerians had travelled to vote and political parties, local and global monitors had deployed men and resources to parts of the country. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), an organization which radiates the same incompetence of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency, had four years to plan for an election but it actually failed to plan. Led by an over-rated Professor of History who spends more time grandstanding in front of camera than actual planning, INEC therefore imposed the first shortcoming of the election on Nigerians: Voter apathy.

In connivance with the ruling party, the commission also ensured that voting materials did not get to the strongholds of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on time. Places like Southern Kaduna, Igbo-dominated parts of Lagos, some parts of Bauchi, most parts of Taraba, the Mararaba/Nyayan/Masaka axis of Nasarawa, Kogi East, parts of Abuja and the most parts of southeast and south-south. In the Sabon Garin areas of most northern states, the majority Igbo speaking people who are most likely to vote for the PDP were deliberately disenfranchised by INEC. Majority of them did not find their names on the register and were not allowed to vote even though they had PVCs. Since the plan was to frustrate them and get them to angrily go home, while voting started in many of the places as late as 4pm, some of them did not hold elections at all. In some of the places, voting was done on Sunday and the turnout was very low because people were tired, having spent the whole day at the polling unit on Saturday.

In the areas where the people were so resolute and stayed put to vote, thugs loyal to be above named politicians were sent in to disperse the people. Soldiers were not left out in this show of shame. The soldiers and thugs killed stubborn voters and massacred unyielding INEC officials, burnt voting materials and made sure they provided the needed cover for figures to be manipulated in favour of the APC. In some cases, Corps members and INEC officials were held hostage for hours while some of them were forced to change figures at gun point. Opposition figures were locked up for days and some were not allowed to access their towns. In some places, soldiers and thugs practically stopped voters from accessing their polling units. Some APC chieftains have also been mentioned to have made INEC officials to announce fake results under duress.

Despite the early voter suppression, figures garnered from polling units in the PDP situation room and that of credible international observers showed that Atiku Abubakar of the PDP was in the clear lead. The APC hierarchy was however shocked that in the areas they didn’t expect Atiku to get votes, he was doing very well there. That was why they bared their fangs and unleashed more terror on INEC officials and PDP agents and made sure they were chased from the collation centres at the ward and local government levels.

Another sign that made the election a charade was that card readers were supposed to be compulsorily used in all polling units, in line with the guidelines. The INEC boss, Professor Mahmud Yakubu emphasized that not using card readers for accreditation in any polling unit amount to cancellation of the entire polling unit. But he refused to make the card reader information available to party agents to verify whether it was used or not. In fact, PDP as a party, is aware that card readers were not used in the north where President Buhari got high numbers while it was used to disenfranchise people where the President is not popular. Videos of massive thumbprinting, over-voting and children voters for the APC in Borno, Kano, Yobe, Zamfara etc have gone viral. The massive thumbprinting explains the over 80 percent turnout in Borno and Yobe where there were bomb blasts on the Election Day. Just like the ruling party has failed in governance, it also failed to plan the rigging of the election in a smart away as there were so many gaps. In many instances in the core north where big numbers were allocated to APC, the total number of valid votes shared by the parties were more than total number of accredited voters.

In the aftermath of this historic malfeasance, President Buhari was declared winner of an election the world knows he never won. After subjecting Nigerians to the worst form of insecurity, hunger, poverty and nepotism, President Buhari had the temerity to add acid to injury by also stealing their mandate.

Nigerians are wise enough to tell the difference between light and darkness. On that fateful day, they voted for Atiku Abubakar, a man who has the combined public and private sector experience, capacity, competence, open mind and large heart to manage a heterogeneous nation like ours. On that day, Nigerians ignored unitary system and voted for restructuring which no doubt is the solution to many of the problems we are facing today. On that historic day, Nigerians said no to the divisiveness that has come to define the Buhari Presidency and choose a man who could build the bridge of brotherhood and nationhood across Nigeria.

After the daylight robbery of February 23, the call by APC supporters for Atiku to accept defeat and call President Buhari is another demonstration of the mass deceit and double standards that have come to define the persona of Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians must see through their hypocrisy. President Buhari never accepted defeat in any of the past elections. He never believed he could lose election, rather, his supporters followed his lead and unleashed mayhem on innocent Nigerians.

President Buhari who was a beneficiary of Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s magnanimity refused to say he would concede if he lost the 2019 election, even though he was asked to make that commitment on two different occasions during the electioneering period . Like a medieval-era dictator, he thumped his chest and bragged that it was impossible for him to lose. This is the same man who stopped attending the Council of State meetings since 2003 because he lost consecutive elections. Guess when he resumed attendance; 12 years later in 2015 when the Council wanted to discuss whether to postpone the election or not. He only attended when his ambition to rule Nigeria was the issue. It is difficult to describe this as patriotism.

He and his party have constantly blackmailed the PDP and everyone who disagreed with them. We must remind Nigerians that PDP fought corruption by building institutions like the BPP, EFCC and ICPC, introduced BVN, IPPIS, TSA etc and brought great policies like monetization, did electoral reforms with Uwais committee, introduced PVC, card readers etc which Buhari benefited from. The same Buhari failed to sign the 2018 electoral bill to sustain the improvement started by the PDP. President Jonathan signed Freedom of Information Law and created a conducive democratic environment which the APC benefitted from by way of peaceful protests. But under President Buhari’s watch, organizing a peaceful protest without being shot or arrested is a luxury.

Let me place it on record at this juncture that Atiku is fighting on… This battle to emancipate our people from the shackles of Buhari’s maladministration has only just gotten to its business end. It is not over yet. This is not the time to despair or lose steam. It is time to show our resolve and tenacity. It is time to show our toughness and demonstrate to the world that we mean business. Our people do not deserve the killings, job losses, severe division and absolute lack of direction which are the hallmarks of Buhari’s outgoing administration.

In his resolve to approach the court and reclaim his mandate freely given to him by Nigerians, Atiku is taking inspiration from the brilliant words of American author, Brad Meltzer who said: “When you believe in something, fight for it and when you see injustice, fight harder than you have ever fought before.”

Unlike President Buhari whose political career has always been about violent rhetoric (the dogs and baboons getting soaked in blood etal) and incitement of his followers to mass killings and endorsement of jungle justice, Atiku has not only added value to the economy and education with his private sector investments and philanthropic gestures, he has also used his personal resources and conviction to also improve the country’s jurisprudence. It is on record that Atiku insisted on testing the Nigerian law in court when his ambition to run for President in 2007 was threatened by EFCC and other government agencies which sought to disqualify him on account of some phony indictments. Atiku went up to the apex court which agreed with him that it was only the judiciary that could find someone guilty of corruption and also disqualify any aspirant from seeking a political office. The landmark cases he won have been sources of references for scholars, Law students etc. Since then no governor, or President has been able to use state agencies to stop their political rivals from aspiring for any office of their choice.

The difference between Atiku and Buhari is like that of light and darkness. Atiku started contesting election in the early 90s and because he campaigns on issues and do not incite his followers to violence, not even a single life has been lost on account of his ambition. Buhari joined politics more than a decade later in 2001 and yet about a thousand life (over 800 in 2011 alone!) has been lost on his head. When Buhari campaigns, people die, when he loses, people are killed, when he wins, people still die.

Back to INEC, Professor Yakubu is a historian who ironically does not fear the harsh judgement of history and who having been presented with concrete evidence about how the figures did not add up still went ahead to announce a premeditated result and proclaimed a so-called winner.

Let me use this ample opportunity to call on the judiciary to for once be the final hope of the common man and consider the overwhelming evidence of fraud in this election and do justice. So many uncomplimentary remarks have been made about the judiciary and even the present leadership of the Supreme Court but we have to learn to give people a chance. The Supreme and Appeal Courts are made up of eminent jurists who have put in decades into legal practice and so they wont want the ambition of two politicians to bring their glittering career into disrepute. I believe they will look at the facts that will be presented dispassionately and do justice.

To the Oshiomholes of this world and other classic clowns who are already gloating and ranting over the Pyrrhic victory they never expected, they should cut the celebration and prepare for the reality that will soon stare them in the face.

Like every challenge we have faced in the evolution of this country since 1914, this too shall pass…. Nigeria will work again.

Segun Showunmi is the Spokesman of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organization (APCO).

Twitter/ Instagram/Facebook: @SpokesmanAtiku