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|Reading The President's Lips by plezant(f): 4:56pm On Feb 01, 2007|
Culled from the Sun
President Olusegun Obasanjo at the weekend, assured stakeholders from the private sector that he has no intention of manipulating this April’s election in favour of the PDP.
Even if I have been critical of the President on many issues, I totally agree with him on this one. I agree that he will not manipulate the polls in April. But that does not mean he cannot manipulate it in December, January or February. In fact, he does not have to wait till April. For, all the manipulation needed to win the next elections has already been done.
So, when the President tells you he will not rig in April, you can believe him. It is the gospel truth. You can take that to the bank. He will not rig. All the rigging has already been done ahead of April.
That is why Balarabe Musa and the rest insist that the elections have already been rigged. Why wait for April when it would be too obvious? Not that they give a damn, though.
For one, we are not expecting Obasanjo to go out and manipulate. There are people in the field who can do that – either in his name or otherwise.
But come to think of it, what other manipulation would be necessary when all the manipulation needed for the polls has already been done with the voters’ registration exercise? Or is anybody in doubt that all that has been going on since has been just to make sure that only PDP members got registered? How many AC, PPA or ANPP chieftains have been caught operating registration centers in their sitting rooms? How many of them actually know what a DDM equipment looks like?
Is it not the PDP godfathers and godsons who have spent the last two or so months stock-piling voters’ cards for the rainy day in April? Is it not expected that whoever has six DDM machines allocated to him would have some 18 or so polling booths within the same premises? Is anybody still in doubt that snatching of ballot boxes has gone out of fashion? Has Professor Maurice Iwu and INEC not digitalized everything? Is the rigging of next April not expected to be digital?
So, I agree with the President that there would be no manipulation in April. All the manipulation has been done in December and January. The situation is now so much under control that even if we are to decide who wins the next election by actually counting the votes, the PDP has cornered so many cards that it would be virtually impossible to out-vote them, let alone out-rig them. Why? Because those of us who have no PDP membership cards have been frustrated from registering.
And that brings me back to the issue of the registration exercise that ends this week.
As I write this piece, I am yet to register to vote in this April’s election. And it is not because I have not tried to. The INEC people who told me to go back to my street and wait for the time they would come there have finished and left without coming to my street, and the four or so adjoining streets.
Now, it is clear to me that I have to go and register at a registration centre of a nearby local government secretariat. I call it nearby because it is only a 10 to 15-minute drive from my house. But it is a totally different local government from my council of residence.
What this means is that on election day, I have to drive to my polling booth – to vote for a local government chairman who would not be representing me.
But even as I am going there to register, I know that I stand disenfranchised – because on election day, there would be no vehicular movement, meaning, I would be unable to cast my vote.
The next logical question anyone would then ask me is: Why bother to register when you will not vote? The answer has to do with all the threats being issued out by the executives at all levels of government – council, state and Presidency.
The public holiday they have all declared to enable us to register has nothing to do with their love for us, but just to enable them to create another reason to further deny us the dividends of democracy. They know that we can not all possibly register, no matter how hard we try. But they now want to make it legal for them to deny us our God-given rights.
How do I mean? After all, we were all here when they did the national ID card abracadabra. Before our very eyes, they confirmed that the cards did not go round, that the process was fraught with monumental fraud and that some people used it to enrich themselves. We were all living witnesses when they arrested some, jailed some, indicted some, and even ‘killed’ some. But at the end (like they did with the recent census), the results were accepted. Today, anything you go to do at the banks or government departments, they insist that you identify yourself with your National ID card – yes, the same ID card that Chadians, Nigeriens and Camerounians also carry. Nobody remembers that some of us who even registered then have yet to trace our cards – even after moving from our registration points to the local government headquarters.
The offices which don’t ask for the national ID card ask you for international passport or driving licence. Now, in a country where even Danfo drivers who make their living by driving do not have driving licences, why would anyone who hasn’t a car go procure a driving licence? And the international passport? I thought people only procured that one when they are about to travel. Or would a man who is battling to put two square meals on the table go tie down more than N5,000 to procure a passport he has no immediate use for?
I would not have bothered to register if I did not know that we are living in a country which its rulers have turned into a jungle. Very soon, our children would not be able to go to school until we show our voters’ card.
Every state and the Federal government is declaring public holiday to enable people register. Some have even issued blatant threat that those who do not have voters’ card could literally be declared persona non grata.
Very soon, policemen would be asking motorists to produce their voters’ card at police check-points. That too would soon become another offence that would need ‘settling’. And for those of us who are familiar with the way tax officers operate in the South-east, it is not impossible that tax officers would soon begin to arrest villagers on their way to the farm for failing to produce their voters’ card.
One state governor even clearly said that all those who do not register would no longer enjoy social amenities and other infrastructure. That does not disturb me. Already, I enjoy none of that. I provide my own power supply, I combine with other residents (and kinsmen, in the case of my village) to fix our roads. We also provide our own security, despite that it’s our taxes that fund the police. I pay my landlord whatever he charges as rent or I take a walk because I am totally on my own – the rent edict exists only on paper. I have lived in five parts of Lagos since coming to this town some 13 years ago. Yes, I don’t know which part belongs to the Federal government or which belongs to the state government, but I know that not in one of those parts that I have lived have I ever enjoyed pipe-borne water. I have always provided my own water – either through private wells, boreholes or simply buying from water vendors. I pay NEPA (PHCN) for supplying me darkness while using my generator to supply my household light.
The only reason I still pay tax is because I could go to jail if I don’t. If it were for any earn-as-you- pay benefit, I’d have stopped paying a long time ago. In other words, we perform our civic responsibility not for any hope of benefiting anything from government, but because that is the only way of staving off persecution. That is the tyranny of government.
It is also for that reason that I will do everything possible to register, even now that it is obvious that I will register in a different local government area and could end up not voting.
Of course I know that is the wish of this PDP government – that I don’t cast a vote they so much fear would be for their opponent. But I have a surprise for them. Even if it would mean my trekking 30 kilometres to cast just that one vote against the PDP, I sure will trek it.
Between the message and the messenger
When Atiku visits a foreign country and exposes the rot in the Presidency, he is soiling Nigeria’s image. And it is unpatriotic. But when Obasanjo gathers foreigners in Nigeria and exposes even more embarrassing rot in the same Presidency, he is laundering Nigeria’s image. And it is patriotic.
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