• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Nigerians are only waiting for court’s decision before they react – Daramola

Nigerians are only waiting for court’s decision before they react – Daramola

Tunde Daramola, pharmacist is a former member of the national working committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this exclusive interview with Iniobong Iwok, he assesses the conduct of the 2023 general election, suggesting measures that could improve the electoral process and strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.

What is your take on the outcome of the 2023 poll?

Personally, the expectations of Nigerians were very high before the elections; I don’t want to say this is the greatest scam pulled by an administration, because the incumbent administration promised to deliver a credible and transparent election.

I called it a scam whether it was perpetuated by the administration or by the INEC chairman; Nigerians expected that President Muhammadu Buhari would put a legacy to electoral malpractices where people’s vote would count.

But what we had was a situation where INEC abused its own guidelines; it was a total scam which disappointed the masses. In as much as it was INEC that was flaunting its own guideline after spending almost half a trillion naira, obviously it was scamming Nigeria.

The Minister of Information said this is the most credible election that Nigeria ever had, I disagree with him. Credible and IREV could not relay votes from polling units as it is happening. What kind of lie was that? Of course, the statement is bias, because he knows that the scam was perpetuated to favour APC.

The opposition candidates are now in court to challenge the outcome of the presidential poll; do you have confidence in the court delivering justice?

There is a saying in Yoruba that a hunchback carrying a load cannot carry it straight, the reason why the load is bending is because he has a bent leg.

The judiciary and INEC are on trial, for now there is peace of a graveyard in Nigeria, people are not responding until they hear the verdict of the court that is when we would know that if we have a country.

What is the purpose of our voting, if at every election the court is the one that determines the winner? Then the purpose is defeated, there is no point voting. They promised us free and fair polls, but they end up doing a shady job.

Whether this administration likes it or not INEC is under their control and whether they like it or not they have failed in that regard.

President Buhari came out to say people will not use money to influence violence and buy votes, but what did we see? There was violence galore across the country. I do not believe they know what they are doing, or maybe they purposely want to scam Nigerians.

Were you also surprised with the conduct of the gubernatorial and House of Assembly poll?

There was no difference, if all the elections had been conducted on the same day we would be better for it. There was massive voter suppression and intimidation; in fact, that was not an election.

Violence was at its highest across Nigeria, I would not excuse anybody, PDP was doing it where they can do it, APC was doing it where they can do it too.

The outcome of the election is unacceptable to gladiators in several states, which is why we have seen litigation galore so far.

That is why I am asking, why bother the masses to vote when it is not going to count? Why do all elections end up in the court? Meaning that the court would determine who becomes governor, president, senator, etc. I pity the judiciary; they are more on trial than INEC.

Do you think the introduction of BVAS helped in the conduct of the polls?

BVAS played a positive role that is what encouraged more participation and positive expectations. People generally do not take Nigeria’s election seriously, but the guarantee that was given by the INEC chairman made people have more interest this time around.

But the INEC chairman managed the biggest electoral fraud, by making it impossible for us to have it right. They know we would have it right if the election results were transmitted as it was happening at the polling units. Except that it was pre-planned, so that they can manipulate the results.

You think the manipulation was pre-planned?

Yes, it was pre-planned, Lai Muhammed said it was a technical hitch, but INEC has denied that they did not have a cyber-attack; who do we believe?

The G5 governors are rejoicing that the PDP national chairman has finally stepped down, after refusing before the general election. What is your take?

I don’t know if Nyesom Wike is rejoicing, but in their camp only Makinde was the person that won his election, I don’t know if Makinde’s victory is currently challenged, but the others lost.

Wike and the other governors are asking that the national chairmanship should come to the South, but the man there now is still from the North.

They think they are preventing PDP from Victory, the case is now before the tribunal let wait and see.

But a lot of people say Atiku should have bowed to G5 governors’ demands?

Atiku should not have bowed to Wike and co because from the onset, one of the G5 governors, Wike, expected President Buhari to rig the election for Bola Tinubu.

Secondly, Ortom was the chairman of the zoning committee for the presidency in the PDP and the governors wanted it by themselves they should have known what to do. But Atiku won the ticket squarely and Wike’s was just acting and weeping like a bad loser.

Whether Ayu danced to the tune of Wike, it would not have changed anything because there was already a plan to rig the presidential poll. All this would not have allowed INEC to transmit the election results electronically, because there was already a plan on ground.

Your party’s candidate also lost woefully in Lagos. What is your take?

Yes he lost; don’t forget that Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the Labour Party candidate was also in PDP at some point.

So, the camp of PDP was divided because they saw Rhodes Vivour as having a better chance of winning than Jandor, even though the result was stolen. The presidential and gubernatorial election results were stolen, but the worse was the gubernatorial poll, there was massive suppression of voters and other fraud.

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We heard from Rotimi Amaechi that Tinubu was influential to the appointment of the INEC chairman and that before Mahmood’s appointment as INEC chairman he was answerable at the Petroleum Trust Fund to Wike.

So, Wike knew all along where the pendulum was going to swing through the INEC chairman who was an appointee of Tinubu.

What do you think is the way forward for Nigeria’s democracy, especially in amendment to the electoral law?

The fact that BVAS and the IREV were bundled was bad; it would have been a step forward from the previous election. Maybe we need to go back where it does not cost much money, where you have to line behind the box of your preferred candidate.

I am talking about option A4, open ballot. From what I can see everybody has a price and I am sorry to say that the academics have also been corrupted. They are as bad as the politicians and judiciary. The academics are now joining to do the bidding of politicians.

Personally, the future for our democracy is option A4, if we have this maybe it would reduce violence and mayhem in the system.

We had option A4 under Ibrahim Babangida in 1993 and it was a success. Let’s de-emphasize the issue of funding INEC.

The BVAS can still be used for the Option A4, the same way you are counting people now, but you count and store it, give to the agents and transmit through IREV.

So, technological acquisition is not wasted. Of course, no matter what you introduce people would still find their way to manipulate it.