Opinion/Rigging is coup d’etat

In the run-up to the Edo and Ondo States governorship elections, AMINU TAMBUWAL, writing against the backdrop of the International Day of Democracy, declares that election rigging is as bad, if not worse than, military coup d’etat.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September of every year as the International Day of Democracy—with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy—and invited all member states and organizations to commemorate the day in an appropriate manner that contributes to raising public awareness.

The preamble of the resolution affirms that:

“…while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region… …democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life:

To mark this day in Nigeria, it is important to note that the struggle for democracy has involved sweat, blood, diplomacy, compromises and negotiations. This had traversed the whole period of pre and post independence struggle, the First, Second, Third Republics. And our current experiment since 1999.

In our contemporary Nigeria, many young people who did not participate in the various struggles may not undersrand the intensity of the price paid by our forebears. It is with this in mind that I wish to flag various dangers lurking around and threatening to derIl our present democratic experiment.

The strenghtening of our electoral infrastructure has become very urgent, if we are to restore the hope and aspiration of Nigerians that democracy still counts.

Indeed the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States are test cases of our preparedness for a rule-based and consent-enabled governance.

It has become imperative to rethink the role of not just the electoral umpire, but also the activities of various security agencies in our electoral process in such a manner as to instil in them the culture of inflexible support for democracy and its practice.

Any electoral victory obtained other than through the legitimate votes of the people is nothing short of a COUP D’ETAT.

It completely violates our Constitution which envisaged that governmental authority must be obtained only through the will of the people.

Going forward, I call on the National Assembly to immediately conclude the long overdue amendments to the Electoral Act to entrench provisions that make it impossible for rigging and manipulation of elections.

In the same vein, any further amendments to the Constitution must take cognisance of our experiences in previous elections.

It may be that time has come to introduce aspects of technology in our elections that are foolproof and such should be test-run with other elections before the general elections in 2023.

Finally, it bears repeating to say that good governance anchored on a sound economy and corrupt free progressive social, cultural, and infrastructural development is a sine qua non for sustainable democracy.

It behoves on us all , particularly the political and economic actors on stage, to do our utmost to ensure a stable Nigeria.

Finally, I call on the Civil Society and the Press to continue to play its watchdog role of keeping government in check in order to ensure the survival of our democracy.

RT HON AMINU WAZIRI TAMBUWAL, CFR, Governor of Sokoto State, was Speaker of the 7th House of Representatives. He wrote this article to mark this year’s International Day of Democracy, which was observed throughout the free world yesterday.

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