It has been all of 12 years since the 2007 general election. Since then, there have been three general elections in Nigeria, the last and most recent of which must be a huge embarrassment to the government of the day, if honesty and integrity count. Nigerians are still grappling with that huge and expensive mess. Naturally, there are some people even in government today who feel not just embarrassment but a sense of shame and possibly guilt at what transpired in the recent general election in Nigeria.
While such a sense of shame in some critical persons in the government of the day, hidden in many instances behind straight faces, can be understood, there are some others who have no shame by nature and, therefore, have no qualms about an obvious national embarrassment. Characters in this latter category seem to believe that they can deploy bare-faced lying, twist of facts or some hocus pocus to get the rest of the country and the world to begin to have a different reading of the recent peculiar mess.
Osita Okechukwu, an All Progressives Congress (APC) member and a proven failed politician with no electoral value at all, falls into the category of people who believe that, by introducing all sorts of puerile sophistry, they can explain away and defend the indefensible. Where many with wisdom, even within the fold of the ruling party, adopt circumspection in discussing the recent debacle, the likes of Okechukwu throw decorum to the wind and have no compunction in adding insult to injury any time they open their mouth. Considering that the party leadership and government Okechukwu clings to fully know his limitations and therefore hardly reckons with his type on serious issues, the man can only be pitied whenever he embarks on his intermittent abuse of people and rancid stories as a strategy to pitch for relevance.
Okechukwu’s outing at his party’s local primaries towards the 2019 elections ended as dismally as everyone who knew him would expect. As it turned out, not even his party members in his locality reckon with Okechukwu. They dismissed him with ignominy. Obviously, Okechukwu is still struggling to re-launch himself as a party man with relevance after the debacle of his woeful party primaries outing. At this point, he can say anything to seek relevance.
An Africa Independent Television (AIT) interview featuring Okechukwu last week saw the man in his characteristic disdain for facts and his insensitivity to the mood of the nation post-2019 elections. Okechukwu was out in the programme to justify the unjustifiable. In that rather futile effort, he believed that by going back 12 years to further distort facts about an election that was purposefully maligned, he would find success in defending the 2019 mess. Only a man like Okechukwu would be that insensitive and unfair. It is doubtful if even those in the forefront of the assault on the 2007 elections and the then leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would go as far as Okechukwu goes to compare that election and the recent peculiar mess.
The attempt to find justification for the embarrassment of the 2019 elections through manufacturing outright lies about the 2007 elections is a type of shameless and pathetic strategy that only someone like Okechukwu can resort to. In trying to paint a self-serving picture of how elections in Nigeria are all lousy and as hobbled as the recent one, Okechukwu resorted to some fantasy. According to him, in 2007 the INEC chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu, sneaked out to some locations and announced the presidential election result while collation of results was still ongoing. This is the type of falsehood Okechukwu believes will help him to convince Nigerians and the world that the 2019 elections were not bad after all. Yet the fact remains that the result of the presidential election in 2007 was publicly called at the INEC Presidential Election Collation Centre at the Electoral Institute in central Abuja. The event was massively covered by both local and international press. All the results were available. What Okechukwu refused to tell his viewers was that, in the heady days of the 2007 elections, while collation of the presidential election result was going on, leaders of some political parties that were determined to undermine the election were out in town shopping for court injunctions that would enable them to truncate the announcement of the presidential election result. In that bid, the game of the parties involved was to continue to hold back the collation exercise by asking for repeated recount while effort was being made by their people outside to get the required court injuction.
At some point, after series of recounts and when the game was up, the INEC chairman finally called the result. Publicly. So, where did Okechukwu say the INEC chairman sneak to for the announcement of election result? How does such a shallow lie help him shore up the integrity of the recent abracadabra he was out to justify? If the likes of Okechukwu can own up to the truth it will help to set the nation free.
The fixation that the Okechukwus in the political circle today have with Prof. Iwu can only be explained by the bitterness they still habour for Prof. Iwu thwarting their blind effort to truncate the announcement of the presidential election in 2007.
The 2007 general election was the first time INEC set up structures for the electronic transmission of results. The commission was all out to go the whole hog in deployment of electronic structures in the conduct of the elections but, as has become the case, the political class kicked against it. However, results of the elections were transmitted to the commission’s central server electronically. All results in that election were transmitted electronically, even as the manual results subsequently came in. Till date, the backbone for electronic transmission of results, which was set up by the commission in 2007, is still very much available across INEC offices in the states. If only Okechukwu and his ilk can say the truth it will set the nation free. Maligning a particular INEC leadership out of sheer mischief or ignorance or distorting facts about any past election cannot help Okechukwu in his quest for relevance. His willful resort to cock and bull stories or introducing Prof. Iwu as a factor in the 2019 peculiar mess presided over by the Okechukwus of Nigeria cannot sell.
•Oforma PhD., writes from Lagos