• Monday, December 11, 2023
businessday logo


2011 elections: Some protrusions on the political ball


Onyebuchi Onyegbule

If the 2011 general elections is to hold in January, we have barely five months to get ready. From experience, we need a minimum of six months to conduct and compile a voters’ register – the pivot of a successful election. Now five months to it, Jega, the INEC Chairman wants nothing to do with the old register compiled by his predecessor Maurice Iwu. Reason: He cannot guarantee a successful

election using it. To compile a fresh register, the commission according to him would require N72 billion. Yes, N72 billion. But Sir, do you have the money? I am aware that President Jonathan wants to make a significant impact on electricity-generation and accelerated infrastructure-development, both of them, budget-suckers. Would there still be N72 billion to compile an entirely new register? I am also aware that the existing register has some bumps: multiple registration, registration of fake and underage children, etc. If these are its flaws, why don’t we thoroughly review them with much less of that amount to have a better document different from the one rejected by the court rather than discard it entirely, hunt for money we may not find and hurry against time to present another questionable register? Fact is, there will still be some false representation in the new compilation no matter how we try. What we are looking at is to stay within the tolerance span. Again, if the chairman were another person, I wouldn’t worry. He was a consultant to Iwu’s INEC during that exercise, so why throw away what he was part of? This sum strikes a discordant note and makes one wonder if the election is not already running into its first problem-point capable of preventing Jonathan from meeting his promise to give the people a free and fair election. Second Sir, do you have the time? If you don’t, take the first advise – focus only on the flawed points to save time and cost while still use the usable.

From experience, you don’t have the time and if after all the discarding, you still, out of time constraint, use the old record having collected money for an entirely new register, there will be unease. The other worrying protrusion is the return of the prodigals to the PDP. They were in the PDP, it was not o.k., they left and formed their own parties; it was still not okay. Now they have returned to the PDP, it will still not be okay, so what’s the real reason for their return? Conspiracy? May be, may be not. But imagine the scenario that Jonathan declares to file against a waiting Babangida and the returnees are mostly the latter’s men, what happens? Heat in the PDP? Yes, and it will make the contest interesting. We will see Obasanjo and the anti-zoning elements file behind Jonathan with Atiku, Orji Uzor-Kalu and the pro-zoning elements behind Babangida. On Babangida’s side, there’ll be a cash-splash – goodnews for political jobbers. But Jonathan, if he knows how to use it, will deploy his power of incumbency to roll in the opponent, not by intimidation, the OBJ-style, but by empowering caucuses with the potential to deliver and make them see their Canaan right in front of them while guiding them to it upon delivery. Till date, there’s quasi no poignant opposition, thus, making this whole thing more or less, a PDP affair. But then, it’s also a happy-danger. If the PDP has no raveling opposition, it would oppose itself and probably implode if badly managed. It’s then we will know the real mission of the returnees. May be also, the opposition may come up with thrills in the months ahead courtesy Buhari .

If the PDP gets its coming in-fighting wrong, the political ball will wobble and the opposition will have its chance. The prevention of this unfolding drama would depend largely on what Jonathan does before December. How significantly his priorities impact on the life of the citizenry will define the line of difference. This is what will point at the candidate of choice and the party he tows. This given, I would in his stead, still remain mute on declaring an interest to run despite mounting pressure. What’s at stake is an action-vote not the nominal one. What have you done? That’s it. Already, we know what Babangida has done and we won’t ask him again. It’s now Jonathan’s turn. If he fails, Babangida’s cash will speak. That language will cause a swing that can take Nigeria back to 1966 – the year of maximum instability. Then, not even Jega’s N72 billion can produce a halt. Only a few would choose that.