About 40 Nigerian senators were already celebrating their “re-election” in 2015 because President Goodluck Jonathan had promised them so. The greatest beneficiary of this rapprochement had been Ike Ekweremadu, currently deputy Senate president. Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State was said to have accepted to shelve his ambition to move to the Senate so that Ekweremadu, who comes from the same senatorial zone as he does, could be returned by the party. Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta and Liyel Imoke of Cross River were rumoured to have also given up their ambition.
When the PDP apparatchiks took the decision, they were obviously certain that the electorate would not be able to reject the party’s candidates at the February 2015 polls. Even the outcomes of congresses held on Nov. 1, which led to the senators’ work-to-rule protest thereafter, would be altered. INEC has yet to make a statement on this daylight robbery and corruption of the electoral process. But, as expected, the governors have held another meeting with the presidency.
So far, it is still a mere promise. Not all the governors – 19 of them are affected – will agree to let the senators have their way. Benue governor Suswan has denied that anybody had been given “automatic” ticket in the PDP.
Any attempt to disregard the governors would be disastrous for the PDP. Some may sponsor candidates in opposition parties. Some may dump the PDP and later contest under an opposition party’s platform to be vacated by a stooge planted there. Others may reject the president’s proposal outright and use anointed delegates to vote against the senators during the PDP primaries coming up in a fortnight.
In all these cases, the power of the electorate is not considered at all. The politicians, like everyone else, know that the outcomes of elections in Nigeria since 1999 have been determined before Polling Day. The incumbent senators now complaining about phantom PDP congresses held on Nov. 1 had benefitted from a similar scheme in the past. Many enlightened Nigerians have deliberately refused to get a voter card because they know the truth about Nigeria elections.
The elections may not hold anyway. With terrorists exploding bombs in several corners of the country and the armed forces preparing for a showdown, there may not be an atmosphere conducive for election in February. The Jonathan government may therefore reluctantly rely on Section 64 (2) – repeated as Section 135 (3) – of the Nigerian constitution to postpone the polls. The section gives the president and the National Assembly powers to maintain the status quo for as long as a war lasts. It says: “If the Federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the President considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (1) of this section from time to time but not beyond a period of six months at any one time.”
Relying on a similar section, Jonathan has imposed emergency rule in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe for 18 months now.
But if the elections are allowed to take place, they will be a sham: it will be cash and carry – not free, not fair and not credible. That is where the major trouble would begin.