By Uche Mbah
Tuesday launch of former President Jonathan’s account of the dying hours of his regime and the controversial 2019 election results have opened up new controversies on the possibility of the current Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, acting as unbiased umpire during the 2019 presidential elections.
Jonathan has launched his own account of what happened at the 2015 presidential elections, of which he was a candidate. The launching coincided with his 61st birthday celebration in Abuja. It was graced by who is who in Nigerian politics, with the exception of President Buhari, Vice president It was graced by who is who in Nigerian politics, with the exception of President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress National leader. Buhari was, however, represented by the secretary to the Government, Boss Mustapha, who showered encomiums on Jonathan on behalf of his boss.
Jonathan in his book has said that the Independent National Electoral Commission was partly instrumental to the defeat he got from the polls, citing the fact that accreditation was 100% completed in the North but the card reader was designed to fail in the south.
“For some inexplicable reason, the INEC had been able to achieve near 100% distribution of Permanent Voter Cards in the North, including the North East, which was under siege with Boko Haram insurgency but failed to record a similar level of distribution in the South which was relatively more peaceful,” he said.
Buhari has in recent times reiterated his determination to organize free and fair elections come 2019. But recent bye elections in the country seem to suggest that the current INEC have graduated from card reader disenfranchisement to using security agencies and thugs to frighten and intimidate opposition voters out of the polling booths. Elections in Ekiti, Osun and Kwara are all rejected by opposition parties, with the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, going to court to challenge the results. The Security agencies have shown such blatant partisanship that the military high command were found to have attended the launch of the APC campaign logo and slogan, which made the PDP kick. Farida Waziri, the niece to President Buhari, as the INEC Director of operations, has been kicked against until she was transferred to Medicals.
As encomiums are being heaped on the former president, the Federal government seems to be in shock as their usual refrain of corruption has been rubbished by the caliber of dignitaries that were at the book launch.Many who spoke gave subtle warnings to the Federal Government on the possibility of rigging the elections. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo used the Opportunity to return fully to the PDP fold, though it was not clear whether he will be getting new membership card. Obasanjo directed someone to tear his PDP card in the wake of the 2015 presidential election.
The launch was not attended to without comic relief. Oshiomhole appeared at the venue of the book launch immediately after Olusegun Obasanjo, former President arrived. Later, Obasanjo was to corner Oshiomhole and, in his characteristic manner, asked him: “Is President Buhari Avoiding Other Nigerian Leaders Or He Has Developed Phobia For Public Appearance?”