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With just weeks before general elections, most politicians appear to have failed to convince a sceptical Nigerian electorate that they are prepared to play the game honourably. But will the 9 April polls prove that Africa’s most populous country has finally metamorphosed into a stable, progressive democracy? Osasu Obayiuwana finds out.


A


s knowledgeable observers of the country’s political landscape are acutely aware, the period run- ning up to general elections is a characteristic mix of the not-so-good, the downright ugly and, of course, the unpredictable.


Whilst the undisputed winners of January’s party primaries,


as certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), have long begun their campaigns, those at the losing end of the New Year contests are refusing to lick their wounds and ride quietly into the political sunset. Atiku Abubakar, the former vice-president, who was soundly


beaten by incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan in the Peo- ples’ Democratic Party primaries in Abuja, by a margin of 1,929 votes (2,736 for Jonathan and 807 for Atiku), is the major politi- cian, amongst many others, who has refused to concede defeat. In an eight-page petition, dated 27 January and signed by Ben


Obi, the director-general of the Atiku Campaign Organisation, they have asked Professor Attahiru Jega, the INEC chairman, to invalidate the PDP primary on the grounds that: “Atiku lost the primary election not to the best candidate


but due to the manipulations of the delegate list and the entire voting process. “Consequently, the polling agents…did not sign the final


result notwithstanding the provisions of Section 9 (b) & (c) of the [PDP] Electoral Guidelines 2010, that gave the panel the absolute power to uphold and release the result with or without their endorsements,” it went on. “We call on INEC to jettision [sic] the result of the said


winners have long begun their election campaigns, those at the losing end are refusing to ride quietly into the sunset. ”


“ While the party primary


Above: Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who was beaten by President Goodluck Jonathan in the PDP primaries, has accused Jonathan (left) of rigging the results


primary and cancel same, as having not been conducted in ac- cordance with the provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2010, PDP Constitution 2009, and the PDP Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2010.” Te strongly worded petition also accused President Goodluck


Jonathan of doling out “$7000 to each of the delegates, thus us- ing financial inducement to make them vote for him.” But this has not been substantiated. Jonathan, who refused to be baited by Atiku at the primaries,


when he was accused of having no respect for the law or PDP rules, has also kept his counsel since. But Sully Abu, the media director for Jonathan’s campaign organisation, accused the former vice- president of being a sore loser who should gracefully accept defeat. “What is his evidence [that Jonathan rigged the PDP prima-


ries]? Nigerians have a right to expect him to show more grace in such obvious defeat rather than play the spoiler in the nation’s democratic process,” he told the NEXT newspaper.


New African March 2011 | 21


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