“Good governance never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.”
Indeed, this is likely going to be one of the best of times for President Muhammadu Buhari for a cheerful respite, at least momentarily, given the Wednesday sweet victory that seems to have relieved him from the burden of all election allegations against him since he was declared the winner of the February 23 presidential election.
The latest verdict by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar against the election of Buhari, perhaps, has brought to an end the first phase of the six-month legal battle embarked upon by the PDP and Atiku, seeking to upturn his declaration as winner of the presidential election.
In sum, the judgment by the five-member tribunal read by the Chairman, Garba Mohammed submitted that the petitioners’ failure to prove their petition beyond reasonable doubt left them with no other option than to dismiss the petition in its entirety.
“The petitioners have a duty to prove all the allegations which are criminal in nature beyond a reasonable doubt, but failed to do that,” Justice Mohammed declared.
Going by its pronouncement the tribunal said Atiku and the PDP provided no evidence that the 2019 general election was not in compliance with the Electoral Act, noting that a number of allegations brought by the petitioners to back their claim of massive non-compliance to electoral guidelines across the nation were not substantiated.
Some of the key decisions trashed out in the judgment were that President Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the February 23, 2019, presidential election; that Buhari did not give information in an affidavit submitted to INEC concerning his academic qualification; that the manual for the election issued by INEC did not provide for electronic transmission of results of the election; that the petitioners failed to prove that election results were transmitted electronically; that the petitioners’ witness 59, who was brought from Kenya, failed to prove that there was an INEC server.
Other issues were that the PW59 relied on hearsay information about the said INEC server posted on a website, www.factsdontlie.com by a purported whistleblower who was never known; that Card Reader machine was not used to transmit results during the election, but for mere authentication of ownership of voter cards; that the petitioners merely dumped documents particularly electoral materials on the tribunal without demonstrating them by tying the evidence of any of their 62 witnesses to the documents in their bid to prove the allegations in their petition.
Expectedly, the PDP has vowed to seek redress at the Supreme Court, describing the judgment as “provocative, barefaced subversion of justice, and a direct assault on the integrity of our nation’s justice system.”
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was particularly “shocked that the tribunal failed to point to justice despite the flawless evidence laid before it, showing that President Buhari was not only unqualified to contest the election, but also did not score the majority of valid votes at the polls.
“It is bewildering that a court of law could validate a clear case of perjury and declaration of false information in a sworn affidavit, as firmly established against President Muhammadu Buhari, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence.”
While Buhari has continued to receive accolades on the focused way he has been running the country and commendations from his party and political associates for a well-deserved victory on Wednesday, there are still those that feel there was a travesty of justice and that his leadership has been a colossal failure.
The president has received a barrage of criticisms as a man with no fresh ideas and incapable of the mental rigours required for governance in the 21st Century.
Some say he is one adept at using state power in settling old scores, as well as a man whose idea of leadership is to enjoy the accoutrements of office without corresponding responsibility.
But Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie disagrees. He said that Buhari has been vindicated by the victory, just as he counseled him to remain focused and avoid distraction.
He said those criticizing Buhari are not fair to him because the president is on right track, arguing that the problem bedeviling Nigeria today was not his making, but that notwithstanding “the president is tackling the issues pragmatically as it should be”.
Although Buhari has prided his government as one that has done quite well in areas of corruption fight, security challenge, big boost in the agricultural sector, improvement of the economy, among other claimed achievements, most Nigerians think otherwise.
Critics say Nigeria’s precarious nature and divisiveness, as well as large scale poverty, rank worst in the present Buhari’s presidency.
Most political watchers say Buhari needs to get the magic wand to transform Nigeria into the needed change expected by the people and that his latest victory should be a springboard used to articulate a realistic roadmap to take the country to greater heights.
Buhari was born on December 17, 1942, in Katsina State. He attended Katsina Model School and later the Government College Katsina (then known as Katsina Provincial Secondary School). He began his military journey at the age of 19 when he joined the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC). The institution was later renamed the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). He has been to Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England.