Senator Ibrahim Mantu has confessed to rigging elections. All politicians in Nigeria also stand guilty as charged.
“Let me tell you one thing. Yes, I helped rig elections. I am now confessing the truth”, Mantu admitted on ChannelsTV without flinching.
Mantu says politicians don’t have to rewrite results themselves to rig the vote.
“I don’t have to go and change elections. But if you provide money, if you give money to INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) boys to help you if they see any chance that they should favour you, if you provide security…All our elections in the past, I have been in this game for about 40 years. It’s not necessarily when I am contesting, it is when your party is sponsoring a candidate, I want that candidate to win election”, Mantu said.
Assuring his interviewer that he is now born again, Mantu added;
“What we used to do before. We make provision for INEC, we make provision for security, we make provision for even agents of other parties so that they won’t raise any objection. So, whether I rig for myself or not, by providing those resources…financial inducement to the officials, I am rigging”.
For the records, Mantu was elected into the senate on the platform of the PDP and he’s still a card carrying member of the party that governed Nigeria from 1999 to 2015.
However, his open confession could well have come from any other politician in the land across all political parties in the land.
Almost all politicians in this country subscribe to rigging elections or lend their weight to manipulating votes for their political parties. It is little wonder that there is suddenly so much money in circulation during elections.
Ever wondered why Nigeria immediately goes broke after elections? Because the bank vaults were raided to purchase votes.
In 2010, former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, revealed that State Governors rig elections by making the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) comfortable when they assumes duties in their States. The REC is handed a car, he’s given decent accommodation by the Governor and all his needs are taken care of until the results are announced.
Duke also told us how Governors make sure the Commissioner of Police is well fed and has everything at his disposal.
According to Duke, before the election, the REC asks the Governor to provide presiding officers who will go on to man polling booths across local governments. These adhoc INEC staff are loyal members of the Governor’s party who then go on to thumb-print for the Governor’s party and hand their party victory.
In Duke’s words: "Well, this is not a PDP thing. I am not here to castigate the PDP; it’s a Nigerian thing. This process may sound comical and jovial, it happens throughout the country, whether it’s Action Congress or APGA, it’s the same thing. We are all the same. They (presiding officers) start thumb-printing, some are overzealous. So at the end of the day you find some voting more than the number of people that were registered to vote”.
What Duke said eight years ago isn’t radically different from Mantu’s revelation today. What has changed are the political players. But the game hasn't.
And according to Mantu, if politicians stop doling out monies to INEC personnel, foot soldiers and thugs before elections, rigging the vote in Nigeria could cease to exist as a phenomenon.
“If people are born again like me and they refuse to do it, if we the players…unless you give before somebody will take. So, don’t give and you won’t get a taker”, Mantu said.
Whatever his motives for confessing to rigging elections, Mantu’s comments have to be examined for what there are. For once, it will do us a world of good to discard the messenger and run with the message.
Our democracy hasn’t provided the greatest good for the greatest number of people because it sits on a rigged foundation. Its beneficiaries are only a fraction of the population. Its beneficiaries are the elite who dole out monies to rig themselves and their cronies back into office.
Until the right candidates who are the choices of the electorate get into power across all tiers of government, we'll keep complaining about infrastructure decay, corruption and an economy on a tailspin. When we rig elections, we shortchange and cripple systems and institutions. When we rig elections, we set our country four years backwards.
Rigging elections impact us all negatively. The day we know this is the day we begin to rebuild our fallen society.
Mantu and Duke may not be our candidates for sainthood, but at least they have broken ranks and we will do well to listen to them.