An international scholar and former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu, takes a look at the February 25 polls, giving INEC a thumb down, sees no improvement in INEC’s conduct of next Saturday’s election, tasks the judiciary to dispense justice in the dispute election, among others.
The much awaited presidential and national assembly election has been held, although its conduct is dogged by controversy and this leaves a sour taste in the mouths of some candidates. What is your view on the conduct and outcome of the election?
I am not sure the controversy is as much from the leading opposition parties as from everywhere in the country, quite honestly. I think this is not political controversy. It is civic controversy. Political parties may offer the platforms, but elections are about how to organise your civics. The controversy is very simple. I want to go back to 2015. Whether or not you were PDP or APC, you knew Muhammadu Buhari won fair and square. And even people who did not and could not have voted for Buhari were obliged to recognise that he won the election and people were celebrating spontaneously. I remember where I was when the results officially came out. Every Nigerian at that place we were, when the result came out, stood up and sang the national anthem. I am never a Buhari supporter and I will never vote for him. But I stood up and sang the national anthem on that day in 2015 because I knew something different had happened and Buhari won the election. We all affirmed faith in our country because the average Nigerian is in love with Nigeria. We may not like the way we are treated by our country, but we love our country.
Look at the streets of Nigeria today and show me who is celebrating that Tinubu has won. INEC possibly chose to announce the results at night when only witches and wizards were awake or returning from the coven. So, nobody has deemed it fit to spontaneously celebrate the result. Secondly, the expression ‘go to court’ which is being used as a threat and as hubris is exactly all the evidence you need to understand that something more profound than the opposition’s angst is at play here.