Nigerians wait in bated breath as the clock ticks down to the court pronouncement on the 2019 presidential election.
Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, who bore the flag of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), did not accept the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the election and, therefore, approached the highest court in the land seeking the invalidation of Buhari’s victory.
Atiku had through his lawyers tried to prove that large scale irregularities were committed in the election in favour of President Buhari, who contested as incumbent, and as such a travesty that the president was declared winner.
Having also sought to prove that as challenger, he scored the highest number of legitimate votes but was robbed of victory, he prayed that he be declared the winner.
Atiku’s action and President Buhari’s defence of his victory both fall within their constitutional rights.
This newspaper is not much concerned about what will be the outcome in the matter as we are about to witness the recurrence that has seen the results of most Nigeria’s presidential elections since the return of democracy being subjects of Supreme Court’s reevaluation.
We are equally by no means reprobating the judiciary for the unending role it plays in deciding who finally wins or loses election in the country, nor begrudging it for holding all the aces in this recurring uneasy development.
However, the perennial Supreme Court’s reexamination of the outcome of presidential polls and similarly those of all other elective positions by lower tribunals beg the question of INEC’s credibility, the integrity and sportsmanship in our politicians and the role expected of the people.
INEC should be manifestly worried that almost every result it declares in virtually all the elections – from the state to the federal levels are contested in the court of law.
Blaming the failures and disappointments in electoral administration on the young age of the nation’s democracy is simplistic, evasive and no longer acceptable.
Aiming towards global best practices in INEC will begin with a holistic reorientation of its staff’s mindset and the evolvement of independent leadership recruitment module, starting from the commission’s top echelon to its commissioners.
For the politicians, it is is evident that the cast among them who would rig their way to power are hardly aiming to serve. For a politician with such a convoluted mindset, not even an election conducted by angels would make him gracious in defeat.
Their followers know this but in a classic paradox still offer themselves as willing tools in the subversion of electoral will of the people.
Hunger and poverty of the mind are regularly cited as giving oxygen to the thugs that rig elections by violence for politicians and the INEC staff’s accomplices that collude with their pen.
Incidentally, only quality leadership which cannot be brought about by mandate-thieving politicians and a pliable electoral umpire holds the weapons against the hunger and illiteracy that is believed to propel the tribe of colluding members of the public in electoral fraud.
Sad as it is, the circle of the triangular evil electoral conspiracy that involves politicians, the electoral body and the colluding public would always ensure that the courts have the final say in who wins or loses election in the country.
Until we say no to their recurring coup, the democratic choices we make would remain subordinated to judicial reexamination.
Investigating who actually won or lost has in several instances proved treacherous for our learned jurists, even at the highest realm in the temple of justice.
Without prejudice, technicalities and human frailties have often trumped the power of the ballot in the courtrooms. When this plays out at the highest judicial level, it is fait accompli.
The Supreme Court is the final arbiter in the land, consisting the finest breeds in the legal profession. As Nigerians await with bated breath for the judgement in the 2019 presidential election, it is trite to state that they wait in confidence and faith in the ability of the learned justices to not only serve justice, but to do it by the guidance of the principles of equity and fairness to the parties.
No one knows this better than judges themselves. They know the more that in all matters, justice must not only be served, but be seen to have been served. Moreover, they are mindful of the fact that they write their testimonials with every judgement they deliver.
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