Thursday, February 21, 2008

Uneasy calm

Abuja is in a strange lull period right now. Some are so sure about the election tribunal nullifying the Presidential election they are already thinking beyond the re-elections. Others are equally convinced that MYA will find a way through the thickets of documentary evidence.

Of course, the justification for a re-election is already obvious. There is much weight to the case against, and given the President's insistence on the importance of the Rule of Law...

However, the practical case against a re-election is stronger. First, given that there has been no electoral reform (indeed, Maurice Iwu is still, somewhat incredibly, still in charge of INEC), it is doubtful that another election would be any less opaque than last year's. Secondly, enough time has been lost already. The 2008 budget has only just been approved by both houses and here we are nearly in March - it will still be a while before money from this budget is made available to govt agencies. A re-election would paralyse this process. Thirdly, MYA has already steadily been laying a good foundation for much more deep-routed reform than the previous administration, with upheaval of the Energy sector (on both the oil & gas side, as well as in terms of power) a key priority. Gas plays a key role here, with a fully-thought through ban on gas-flaring linking up with detailed plans for a pipeline network that feeds all the gas-fired Independent Power Plants under phase 1 of a strategy that beefs total power supply beyond 6000MW.

There's simply too much to be done for another election to waste time. Better to carry on as-is, and ensure that the deep-routed electoral reform team led by Justice Uwais is allowed to run its course...


Anonymous,  5:07 pm  


Im so glad that you're (1) British (2) not a naturalised Nigerian yet (at least im not yet aware uv acquired a green kpali.
So I simply can't understand why u say a cancellation of the elections would not be in order simply because the budget has been passed, MYA is upholding the rule of law, and embarking on an aggressive energy reform. If the elections in Britain were rigged, would you advocate for the course of justice to be perverted because the process of upholding fairer and freer elections is just too inconvinient and because the indices to make it so are not there (e.g Maurice Iwu still presides over the electoral commission).

Please stand for what is the right and lawful thing to do rather than what is the most convinient thing to do. I read you blog a lot but this one time-i must say that im truly dissapointed in your comment and view espacially considering that you are advocating what can never be done in your own country in the unlikely event that elections there are rigged.

Sandrine 6:47 pm  

Did I read you correctly?You don't want the election process to be redone because of waste of time? Are you for real?It seems very much out of character.I hope I misunderstood.
Take care

Anonymous,  8:31 pm  

This is what you propose: Abandon the Rule of Law for the greater good. Hmmm.-theres a conundrum... i'd say you fully deserve your green kpali now. You Are One of Us. Nay- You Have Become Us. Haba Jeremoh!

amalinze 'the cat',  10:24 pm  

Jeremy !!!! ah ... this must be a joke.. or maybe you know something we don't... the bird is singing a different tune ... in Naija we know why the bird sings differently ... next thing you'll be telling me that Olopa don't 'collect dues' at checkpoints .... I wonder what 20 years in naij will do to you !!!

Jeremy 12:18 am  

I believe it was the Americans, not the Nigerians, who invented pragmatism. If my commentators thus far stopped their knees from jerking, they would realise the argument of the post is in fact a rule-of-law argument. The focus now should be on using the tribunal as a launch pad for political stability and more entrenched democratic processes garnered through rigorous and deep-rooted electoral reform. Simply re-running the election is no guarantee of a fairer result (or a better application of the rule of law) - how could it be in this context?

Chxta 2:34 am  

The question now becomes this: in the unlikely event that the court concludes that the elections were so bad that it needs to be done again, the sitting president would effectively become a lame duck, and given the amount of time (and resources) that would be needed to go through with the entire exercise, we would be facing an unacceptable period of ‘transition’, essentially an intolerable vacuum that would hamper economic growth.


Welcome to the dark side Jeremiah.

Anonymous,  6:47 am  

ma fren, mind ya business o...I think Nigeria has had enough of "just managing" leaders. We need to stop somewhere, its not like you would take such rubbish in the UK.

ababoypart2 8:19 am  

I share you argument against a re-election, it may still be business as usual.

Personally, I will take a step backwards. I will place a job vacancy for that position, and it will be open to everyone from anywhere. A fixed 5 year contract, $1m a month to get Nigeria sorted.

Anonymous,  8:53 am  

More importantly election cost a heck of a lot of money. It will be total waste. Of course, in an ideal situation, re-election is absolutely justified. However, I do think we have to take on the pragmatic view. It is interesting talking to political scientists who are dead against re-election. They pursue the same argument that you suggesting Jeremy that what is crucial at this point is to strengten the judiciary and re-organise INEC and remove Iwu so so that future election would be more credible

Anonymous,  9:34 am  

I’m the 1st anonymous commentator, I wish to respond to what Jeremy said, and I quote:

"The focus now should be on using the tribunal as a launch pad for political stability and more entrenched democratic processes garnered through rigorous and deep-rooted electoral reform."

Jeremy what exactly would you like the tribunal to say at the end that should achieve political stability and deep-rooted electoral reform. The tribunal is not an electoral reform institution but a place for redress. Let the economy go into limbo in the short run because of a re-election but at least structures would be in place that would ensure political stability and ultimately economic stability in the long run. I applaud all those seeking redress across the country (Presidential, Gubernational, and Legislative) that have gone to the Courts rather than resort to violence and chaos. Jeremy what would you have said then if we had the case of Kenya to bear?
Yaradua did not come in through the Rule of Law that he constantly shoves down our throats. So he should not be afraid to now subject himself to the Rule of law in being asked to vacate the office and subjecting himself to free and fair elections, guided by the rule of law all other aspirants.

Our economy has already suffered but we have to learn to subject ourselves to the right thing so that eventually our land and economy will be better for it.

I conclude by saying Jeremy please if you have nothing better to say to advance Nigeria, please reserve your comment except if you have gotten a green Kpali then you have the liberty like some Nigerians to advocate long term country instability solutions.

Jeremy 9:44 am  

1st anonymous: you still don't answer the central question: how would the hypothetical new elections be guaranteed to be free and fair without any electoral reform process?

You are mixing up two things by the way: the ongoing tribunal processes taking place in courts around Nigeria (and in Abuja for the Presidential election) and the Justice Uwais-led reform panel.

On the green kpali issue that some of you have mentioned. One day soon I hope to have one. I have to wait for constitutional reform which would place Nigerian women on an equal footing with men. At present, the 1999 Constitution decrees only men can confer citizenship on aliens, in effect rendering Nigerian women second-class citizens...

'Gbenga,  11:02 am  

The courts and tribuals exist to do 'justice'typically by 'interpreting' and applying the law. As lawyers would know there are different rules/approaches of interpretaion used by the courts including the 'mischief rule' or purposive approach.

An intellectually competent court or tribunal can do 'justice' even while 'interpreting' the law by the purposive approach and yet conclude legitimately that no fresh elections are to be held and that Yaradua should remain in office. Personally, this is the line that i prefer looking at the state of Nigeria as a whole at present. To that extent, I am with Jeremy on this point.

We may say the courts applied "the rule of law" when they said Obi's tenure should rune differently from that of other governors or when they said that Amaechi, whose name was not on the ballot, should be declared governor! As you can tell, i obviously think both of these decisions are wrong in principle.

The courts/tribunals sometimes, while still acting in good faith, need to be more imaginative.

Anonymous,  1:13 pm  

From 1st anonymous

The electoral reform process headed by Justice Uwais is very welcome and will hopefully strengthen the electoral process and institutions for post elections. However, we cannot divorce the fact that the past elections could hardly be described as elections at all. I believe that what you are advocating is that fresh elections would set the country backwards and not get us anywhere because the indices that made the last elections imperfect are still present. Do you know that the same sentiments were applied in the judgement of the 2003 elections when Buhari challenged Obj's emergence as the winner.

Electoral reform is a must and is a necessity to get us on the right track but since the committee has not concluded its report, are you saying that the judgement should take this into consideration? Elections in 1993 were largely freer and fairer and were conducted under a military dictator who allowed the process to go on. Of course, ultimately, he became uncomfortable with the result. Under OBJ elections were another matter-the entire process reported to him. My point is that the success of conduct of elections is largely determined by the vision and uprightness of the Nigerian leader. Question is will Mr. Rule of Law (ROL) allow the process to be free. If Mr. ROL allows the process to be free, then those seeking for re-election and their political parties will feel freer and be more alert to monitor elections without fear of intimidation unlike what obtained last year and in 2003. The current mood in the country will also checkmate widespread rigging (not eradicate it completely though) and hopefully, future elections will be largely successful as a result of proper implementation of the Justice Uwais reform process committee recommendations.

I look forward to the constitutional reform to then welcome you as a Naija citizen and you must agree to take it - warts and all.

Modibbo,  3:30 pm  


We need a re-election. Yardy needs a legitimate mandate. Nigerians desrve to see their elected leaders held to account.

Yes, INEC needs reform, but let us be realistic about Nija institutions; they have no real clout or independence. They are vehicles or convinience for the elite to ride rough-shod over the plebs.

Making Yardy face the electorate will send a powerful message to the polity, elcted and electors - that there are basic minimum standards and that the vote means a damn.

Whether conducted by Iwu/INEC or not, the mere fact that a sitting Commander-in-Chief can be brought to book by due judicial process (hmm, where have I heard that phrase before...) will be a huge step in the right direction.


Anonymous,  4:46 pm  

i agree that the pragmatic route is best. i just wish yar adua would take the same pragmatic route when dealing with contracts from OBJ's administration

anonymaus,  9:54 am  

The good thing with this, is that it is devoid of excess hype and spin. It just gives us the facts and what could be at stake. Although I doubt that the sitting president will be toppled by this process. It it to the point and easy reading (the way I like it). Thank you.

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