The governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states and the senatorial election in Kogi state starring Dino Melaye and Smart Adeyemi, have just been concluded.
Pulse was live in both states and here are a few things we noticed as the vote panned out.
1..Nigeria’s elections are still massively rigged
The vote in both states were a shambles.
Ballot boxes were snatched and stuffed in most polling units in Kogi and Bayelsa; and thugs arrived most polling units with sticks and machetes to send voters scampering for their lives.
For instance, staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had to abandon polling unit 001, in Asuta ward, Kabba/Bunu local government area of Kogi state, after thugs descended on them and gave them the beating of their lives.
Senator Dino Melaye was caught on tape dispensing cash to voters after voting; even though he will tell you that the money was not meant to induce voters but to buy akara (bean-cake).
A collation officer of the electoral commission in Kogi also presented a N50,000 cash bribe he said politicians offered to a presiding officer in Igalamela-Odolu local government area of the state.
In riverine Bayelsa where access to most polling units is by boats, thugs beat up everyone in sight, carted away ballot boxes and disappeared into bushes, while sending electoral and police officers scampering for their lives.
In some polling units, compromised police officers aided and abetted the rigging in the public glare.
“What happened in Bayelsa was not an election,” said one of our correspondents who covered the election in the southern state. “People came out but weren’t allowed to vote for the candidates of their choice. In most cases, the prevailing hunger and poverty won’t even allow them argue with the thugs.
“Electorates were not even allowed to thumbprint by themselves in most places. The thugs simply gave them money and did that themselves,” he said.
So, here we are in 2019, still unable to organise proper elections in two states and in a handful of local governments.
2..Goodluck Jonathan turned his back on his party
Former President Goodluck Jonathan didn’t openly campaign for the governorship candidate of his party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, before the vote and that was strange on several levels.
There were reports before the election that Jonathan had fallen out with incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa and had gone all out against his handpicked candidate, Diri.
Jonathan held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC in Abuja weeks before the vote on October 10 and welcomed chieftains of the APC to “courtesy visits” in his home moments after the vote.
Jonathan didn't speak to the media after his meeting with Buhari, it has to be said.
Voters in Jonathan’s local government of Ogbia went into wild jubilation when it became clear that APC had taken Bayelsa for the first time since Nigeria’s return to democratic governance in 1999.
Politics eh, bloody hell!!!
3..APC Bayelsa win is significant
The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has always wanted an inroad into the south south and southeast regions of Nigeria--strongholds of the opposition PDP. It’s made several attempts in the past and failed.
David Lyon’s victory in Bayelsa is significant for the APC in so many ways: now the party has a south south state from where it can mount a heist for some more in the region. Bayelsa is also an oil rich state which translates to more money for the APC. It is also possible that Bayelsa’s APC victory could mean that people of the region are beginning to see the APC in a different light--from an aboki (Hausa) party to one they can vibe and associate with.
November 16, 2019 could well be the date APC commenced its total domination of Nigeria as we know it.
It may be early days yet, but the PDP should be very afraid of losing some of its southeast and south south states to the marauding APC in the coming elections.
Never mind that the vote was massively rigged. As they say in Nigeria, “na who rig pass dey win election.”