A renowned international conflict resolution expert, pro- democracy and human rights activist, cum Executive Director, Nigeria Good Governance Research Centre, Comrade Igbotako Nowinta, has said that “Nigerians must start the practical business of taking Nigeria back now, through uncompromising push for amendments of the nation’s electoral laws”.
Comrade Nowinta made this view known in his reaction to the Supreme Court judgement that upheld the controversial victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the February 25th, 2023, Presidential Election.
It will be recalled that Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party ( LP) and Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party ( PDP) had challenged the victory of President Bola Tinubu up to the Supreme Court.
According to him, “Patriotic Nigerians should not be disillusioned by the verdict of the Supreme Court on the outcome of the February 25th, 2023, Presidential Elections, instead, the current ugly and sad reality should serve as a catalyst to continue to struggle for the soul of the nation.
“If the black Americans fought tooth and nail, with blood, sorrow and tears, to get the relevant constitutional amendments ( via the water shed Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution), who says we can not replicate that kind of gigantic struggle here with unorthodox ruggedness and unprecedented relentless advocacy, in sanitizing our electoral process?
“As long as a sitting President of Nigeria has the power not only to nominate and appoint the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), appoint State Resident Commissioners for INEC, why sitting State Governors could pick chairmen and commissioners at the state levels, there is no way we can have free, fair, transparent and credible elections in Nigeria.
“When President Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed nine new INEC resident electoral commissioners in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, it was a clear message and challenge that Nigerians must start the practical business of taking Nigeria back now, through uncompromising push for amendments of the nation’s electoral laws; even as the Supreme Court has challenged us to do the needful.
“If we don’t begin now to ferociously agitate and advocate via massive peaceful protests and other available constitutional means, before we know it we would soon get to 2017, to be confronted by the astonishing day light robbery that stared at us unblinkingly on February 25th, 2023?
“The verdict of the Supreme Court of October 26th, 2023, has simply set ablaze the hope of the electorates in our constitutional provisions; it will remain a major tragic blow for decades to come. Now, for the mass of our people the state exists as a nuisance to be avoided as criminality and banditry have been brought to the fore; even as a huge chunk of our people have lost confidence in our electoral and democratization process.
“There is no disputing the fact that the civil society organizations must make themselves available in the struggle to take Nigeria back from animalistic political mafias, to ultimately make the institutions and principles that define our country, to work in the best interest of the largest numbers of the ordinary people.