About the 2003 Election Results

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And What Is To Be Done About the 2003 Elections Results?

 

By

 

Mobolaji E. Aluko, Ph.D.

Burtonsville, MD, USA

alukome@aol.com

 

May 13, 2003

 

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INTRODUCTION

 

What is to be done about the 2003 elections results?  That is the big question begging for an answer or many answers.

 

Despite best efforts at ignoring the elephant in the room, the brouhaha about the recent elections is not going away any time soon. With Buhari and his ANPP band now being a tour Western capitals (check your local listing), there may be rough time ahead.

 

Reports today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as a May 1 statement by the Nigerian Civil Society (for both statements, see appendices) are also not flattering at all either to the Government of President Obasanjo or to INEC.

 

 

WHAT TO DO ABOUT APRIL 12, APRIL 19, MAY 3 ELECTIONS?

 

So what can President Obasanjo do at this time?

 

First with the amount of evidence, albeit circumstantial, of the rigging, what he SHOULD NOT CONTINUE TO  DO is thump his chest around the country that he and his governors and new legislators won a RESOUNDING VICTORY  based on these rigged numbers. God knows that they may INDEED have won, but not by these numbers.    He would have lost his limited legacy as a democrat if he and his PDP aides carry on as if everything was clean.

 

His last open letter to INEC's Chairman Dr. Guobadia in which he urged some investigation of reported electoral malfeasance shows that he is beginning to  realize  that he must be more careful otherwise we may have another long-time crisis a la June 12 (without its cancellation)  in our hands.

 

Secondly, he should not interfere in INEC's effort to straighten things out.

 

Now what should INEC then do?

 

It should take ALL of the reports of its own monitors; those of the Nigerian election monitors; as well as those of all the international monitors - no exceptions, warts and all - and make a table of the state-by-state complaints, election-by-election. In fact, INEC could choose to COMPLETELY IGNORE any state that was not mentioned in any of the reports as being problem states, stating that it believes that the elections were completely credible in un-named states.

 

Then from that table of observer complaints, INEC should pull up all the relevant the election results, and make voter turn-out analysis comparisons.  These should be both differential analysis (relative to House versus Senate; Gubernatorial versus Presidential) as well as integral analysis (relative to the number of registered voters in each polling station or district) of those states and constitutencies in which all relevant results have been posted for example on its website.   For example, the 618,071 difference in votes in Ogun State of April 19 Gubernatorial/Presidential elections; 173,559 in Kaduna State, 78,805 in Sokoto State, 55,740 in Jigawa State, 46,336 in Oyo State, 41,269 in Yobe State, 37,369 in Adamawa State, 31,850 in Niger State, 30,644 in Akwa Ibom, 24,197 in Edo State, 20,241 in Zamfara State,   15,375 in Benue State,  and 12,753 in Kogi State,  should not go un-addressed.   On April 12, the most egregious differences were Adamawa with 53,839 votes, Edo with 51,075 votes, Yobe with 44,437 votes, and Akwa Ibom with 33,372 votes.   A local-government-by-local-government analysis yields quite some interesting results.

 

Differential and integral analyses of BALLOT REJECTION RATES  also show interesting results  in comparison to the complaints of the monitors, with 12 states having absolutely zero bad ballots  in their the ENTIRE House and/or Senate returns, despite their total number of votes of 5,953,221 in the House of Reps. (H) elections and 7,671,236 in the Senate (S) elections.  These states are Abia (H,S), Adamawa (H,S), Bauchi (H,S), Bayelsa (S), Borno (S), Ebonyi (H), Enugu (H,S), Gombe (S), Imo (H,S), Lagos (S), Oyo (H) and Sokoto (H,S).

 

Finally, two to three weeks after some of the elections have been held, some results of some states have still not been published by INEC itself.

 

Luckily, these states cut across party lines in terms of ascendancy.

 

INEC should then PUBLISH a list of election sites where it feels that egregious violations MIGHT HAVE OCCURRED, and leave it up to PARTIES and CANDIDATES to file complaints before the TRIBUNAL. Those that it has already found egregious violations,  it should NOT TO CONTEST in the Tribunals, and in fact will join  the Parties and Candidates in asking for a formal cancellation of those  SPECIFIC ELECTIONS, not just a blanket cancellation.   It can also signal that it will VIGOROUSLY CONTEST those places where it is convinced that credible elections are held.

 

Then we can re-run elections in only those areas where the Tribunals rule so. The law allows for  up-turning of elections even AFTER those people have been installed in office, so May 29 should not REALLY be a limitation,  providing that  filing of petition has been done  within 30 days of declaration of results as required by law. 

 

I believe it is that confidence-building that we need right now, not throwing up of our hands that nothing can be done.

 

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS SHOULD BE POSTPONED

 

Finally, I do not believe that the next local government elections should be held under the cloud that we are in right now. It will just once more give more room for rigging - so why bother? Why allow criminality to occur when we know, when we are now sure AHEAD OF TIME that it will occur? Does that show any national responsibility?

 

Right now, there is no law compelling the state governments to run local government elections. The new and continuing state governments can RETAIN the hand-picked local government councillors or pick new ones as they see fit. But for goodness sakes, let us PROPERLY REVISE our voter registers; expand/re-constitute INEC and the SIECs to include party members so as  to get a little more independence; fund INEC and the SIECs in a more independent  manner; reduce the four-step collation process into no more than two;  secure the institutionalized service of our internal monitors  - maybe they too should be required to  sign result tallies - so that they can give more internal validity to  our upcoming elections.

 

In any case, it is not a wise move to have so many new state governments be saddled with the task of organizing local governments within less than a month after their inauguration.

 

I rest my case for now.

 

 

Bolaji Aluko

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX I

 

IRIN NEWS ON 2003 ELECTIONS

 

NIGERIA: Obasanjo's official landslide has hollow ring

 

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

http://www.irinnews.org

 

13 May 2003

 

[This is from IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

 

LAGOS, 12 May 2003 (IRIN) - The triumph of President Olusegun Obasanjo and his ruling party in Nigeria's general elections was as sweeping as it was unprecedented. But given widespread accusations of electoral fraud on a massive scale, their resounding victory has a hollow ring.

 

"I doubt the results reflect the mood of the electorate," Chima Ubani, the head of Nigeria's prominent human rights group, the Civil Liberties Organisation, told IRIN. "It's not the actual wish of the electorate but some machinery that has churned out unbelievable outcomes. We've seen a landslide that does not seem sufficiently explained by any available factor."

 

Most of Nigeria's 29 opposition parties have denounced plans for Obasanjo to be sworn in for a second four-year term on May 29. Instead they are demanding that Nigeria's chief justice over as interim head of state to organise fresh elections within three months.

 

Obasanjo, a former military ruler in the 1970's, officially won 62 percent of total votes cast in the presidential ballot on April 19 as he sought a second term as an elected civilian president. And in separate polls during April and early May, his People's Democratic Party (PDP) won an absolute majority in the national parliament and governorships and legislative majorities in 28 of Nigeria's 36 states.

 

Under previous democratic governments, Nigeria's ruling party always had to reach a pact with an opposition party to function effectively. But the PDP has surpassed even the comfortable majority it won in 1999, to arrive at the threshold of total one-party dominance.

 

However, Muhammadu Buhari, Obasanjo's main rival in the presidential election and leader of the country's biggest opposition party, the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) said the elections as "the most flagrantly rigged in Nigeria's history". Several other influential opposition parties agree.

 

Their strident condemnation would have seemed like sour grapes if local and international observers had not picked large holes in the conduct of the elections.

 

The most weight opinions from local observers came from the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 170 human rights and civic organisations which had 10,000 election observers on the ground, and the Justice Development and Peace Commission  of the Roman Catholic Church, which deployed 30,000 observers across Nigeria.

 

The TMG said it found cases of multiple and underage voting, snatching of ballot boxes by armed thugs and falsification of results. It said that while several parties were involved in fraud, the major beneficiary was Obasanjo and ruling PDP. They control the police and other security agencies, which were found to have been active in perpetrating electoral fraud.

 

The JDPC made similar observations, but also pointed an accusing finger at Nigeria's electoral commission. In many parts of the country the results which it announced did not reflect trends observed at the polling stations, the church monitoring group said. "Someone was fiddling with the figures," Ifeanyi Enwerem, the head of the JDPC told IRIN.

 

Similar cases of widespread electoral fraud and other premeditated malpractices were also reported by international monitors, including those from the European Union, the U.S-based National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

Only the Commonwealth observer group, while noting cases of fraud, said it was convinced that the results did indeed reflect the will of the electorate.

 

The JDPC described as "incredible" official results showing nearly 100 percent turnout in southern Rivers State, with 2.1 million of 2.2 million registered voters casting their ballot for the ruling party on a day when observers reported a low turnout.

 

And in the volatile oil-rich Niger Delta, ethnic Ijaw militants questioned electoral commission figures showing an 98 percent turnout near the oil town of Warri. Weeks of fighting between Ijaws and people from the rival Itsekiri and a boycott organised by Ijaw militants ensured there was practically no voting in the area. An electoral official assigned to work in the area told IRIN that top politicians in Obasanjo's PDP had taken home electoral materials and ballot boxes which they filled and returned.

 

Nigeria's lower chamber of parliament last week weighed in on the side of the critics by passing a motion asking for fresh elections in the entire south of the country and parts of the north, alleging "grave irregularities".

 

The House of Representatives also called for the dismissal of the country's police chief, Tafa Balogun and chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abel Guobadia, blaming their agencies for the alleged disenfranchisement of millions of citizens.

 

Despite initially ignoring the criticism and commending INEC for its conduct of the polls, Obasanjo subsequently urged the electoral body to investigate some of the issues raised, particularly in Enugu and Rivers states in the southeast.

 

INEC said last Friday it had started an "exhaustive" investigation of its own officials for their alleged involvement in electoral fraud. However, political analysts said this is unlikely to satisfy opposition groups who have vowed to prevent Obasanjo's inauguration for a second term and have threatened "mass action" if fresh elections are not held.

 

Most of the aggrieved opposition parties are also preparing to challenge the results before electoral tribunals which are expected to begin sitting in the coming days. However, Nigeria's leading constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabuaeze, said these tribunals would not address the main avenues through which fraud had been committed.

 

"There is the right of the millions of voters whose votes had been rendered useless and their wishes thereby thwarted," he said. "These millions cannot go to the election tribunals or the court of appeal."

 

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APPENDIX II

 

NIGERIAN CIVIL SOCIETY STATEMENT ON THE GENERAL ELECTIONS OF APRIL

12TH AND 19TH 2003

 

May 1, 2003

 

Introduction

 

As Nigerians prepare to vote in the state legislative elections scheduled for Saturday, May 3, 2003, it has become necessary to review the political situation following the conduct of the National Assembly Elections held on Saturday, April 12, 2003 and the Presidential/ Gubernatorial Elections held on Saturday, April 19, 2003. This intervention is issued based on observations on the controversy surrounding the elections, especially the reports of the monitoring groups, grievances by some parties, responses by government officials and the mass media.

 

This review is being conducted by members of civil society organizations involved in election monitoring activities during the last elections. Representatives of 45 organisations1, met in Abuja on Tuesday, April 29 and Wednesday, April 30, 2003 under the auspices of the Electoral Reform Network (ERN) to deliberate on matters arising from the series of elections conducted so far.

 

The deliberations took into consideration the preliminary reports issued by election observer groups, including the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), the Catholic Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), the Labour Election Monitoring Team (LEMT) and the Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN) and the Muslim League for Accountability (MULAC). These report were supported by direct evidence of observers who saw events in the

electoral terrain.

 

Collectively, these groups deployed a total of 46,000 observers to cover the 120,000 polling stations in the country. This represent about 31 per cent of the polling stations. In actual fact, our observers covered more polling stations than the total number of monitors because in many communities, between 4 and 8 polling stations are located in the same vicinity. When these units are taken into consideration, Nigerian civil society organizations covered more than one third of the polling stations. Our monitors/ observers reports, therefore, a true reflection of events that went on in a substantial numbers of the polling stations.

 

All these observers/monitors were accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the elections. We believe that the reports of these Nigerians performing a civic duty of election observation must be taken into consideration by the election authorities in determining the success or otherwise of the elections.

 

Summary of Findings

 

The evidence available to us confirms that elections/voting took place in some parts of the country voters had the opportunity to turn up at polling stations, cast their ballots for the candidates of their choice and had results declared reflecting their choice.  This ideal situation was actually the exception rather than the rule.

 

We have evidence that in many polling stations across the country, voters voted, results were declared at some polling stations, while in other there was a conscious decision by electoral personnel not to declare the results. Whether declared or not, these results were manipulated by electoral officers and party officials at collation centers. This was the situation in many local government areas in Anambra State Njikoka, Aguata, Onitsha and Nnewi; Imo State Owerri North East, Orlu; and widespread in Rivers, Enugu and Delta States. But a comparision of these results declared at polling stations and recorded by both domestic and international observers, show substantial discrepancies.

 

The third case scenarios are places where voters were disenfranchised because they did not have the opportunity to vote. Our observers' report show that elections did not take place in Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Okpe, Patani and some parts of Bomadi and Burutu Local Government Areas of Delta State.

 

While in some areas, these malpractices were isolated, in other areas, they were part of a systematic plan to either disenfranchise the voters or distort the votes.

 

In summary, the following represent various forms of malpractices and inadequacies which afflicted the elections, based on the reports of the various monitoring groups:

 

1. Inadequate preparation by INEC, resulting in logistic problems and inefficiency of its officials, especially on April 12, 2003

 

2. Pre-election activities, such as voters' registration and education, were hurriedly carried out by INEC. In particular, the voters' registration exercise were not effectively done.

 

3. The display of voters' register for verification was not effectively done

 

4. In essence, voters' registration exercises created room for electoral fraud.

 

5. Inadequately trained INEC official

 

6. Domineering influence of state governors on INEC officials in many states, including supplying personnel who served as INEC electoral officials

 

7. Pre-election violence, such as assassinations,especially of members of opposition to the ruling party in many states.

 

8. Intimidation of opposition by the government, for example reply by President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Inspector-General of Police to General Muhammadu Buhari's letter of complaint about the management of the April 12, 2003 elections.

 

9. Violence in many parts of the country resulting in disruption or abortion of elections in many polling stations, especially in the south-South and South-East zones.

 

10. The use of members of the armed forces to intimidate the electorate and party agents, especially in the South East.

 

11. Under-age and multiple voting

 

12. Ballot snatching and ballot stuffing

 

13. Falsification of results

 

14. Employment of party faithful as INEC ad-hoc staff

 

The Disputes

 

Following the announcement of election results, there were disputes, claims and counter-claims of the circumstances surrounding the elections. We have no doubt, based on our observers' reports, that in some areas, the elections were conducted and results reflect the will of people. There are also circumstances where cases of electoral malpractices can be left to Election Tribunals to make the determination, whether or not these malpractices substantially affected the outcome of the elections.

 

The responses of government officials to these reports have been unsatisfactory and, in many cases, undemocratic. The demonisation of aggrieved parties and international observers is unacceptable.

 

The use of government mass media at the Federal and State levels, especially the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigerian (FRCN), to malign aggrieved persons, demonise foreign observers and as tool of propaganda to distort the nature and extent of electoral fraud constitute abuse of power.

 

The resort to falsehood by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, during his world press conference, to the effect that the National Orientation Agency deployed 120,000 monitors is unacceptable.

 

Conclusions and Recommendations

 

INEC must acknowledge that although it may have set out to conduct free and fair elections, not everything went according to plan. INEC should be bold and honest enough to admit its errors and successes. The INEC cannot seriously claims that elections have been successfully conducted in states such as Rivers, Enugu and Delta. In some other states, including Anambra, Abia, Benue, Imo and Plateau, where the election results have been willfully falsified, INEC must quickly review the process and restore the legitimate votes recorded.

 

Even in some of these cases, the INEC could reduce the tension in the land by taking a second look at evidence of independent domestic and international observers.

 

Based on the above, we wish to make the following recommendations:

 

* In states where elections were not held, INEC should urgently make arrangements to conduct elections there

 

* The Election Petition Tribunals should not succumb to corrupt inducement, threat or intimidation from any quarters. They should not give priorities to technicalities over substantive issues and must aim to do substantial justice

 

* The demonisation of aggrieved parties and observers should stop

 

* The use of government-controlled mass media, especially the NTA and  the FRCN, to distort the nature and extent of electoral fraud should stop. This constitutes an abuse of power.

 

* Government officials should desist from using derogatory statements that do not reflect reality against opposition and observers.

 

* Nigerians should learn to let people express their democratic rights and freedoms without ethnic,religious and regional prejudice

 

* The phenomenon of rented crowds of associations, professions, unions visiting state houses and the presidency has emerged again as was the case during the Abacha regime to congratulate "winners" and condemn opposition. This is a shameful exhibition of corruption, opportunism and lack of principles by both parties involved government and the "crowd" of visitors.

 

* The Constitution needs to be amended and Electoral Act reviewed to make INEC truly independent and not mere appointees of the President. There is also a need to prohibit the use of government facilities and funds to prosecute the election campaign of incumbent office holders.

 

We hope that the May 3, 2003 elections will be free from the malpractices and fraud recorded in the previous elections. We commend the electorate for their commitment to democracy and their perseverance so far and urge them to continue to believe in the democratic process and turn out in large numbers to vote on May 3.

 

Signed by:

 

Olawale Fapohunda

Electoral Reform Nework (ERN)

 

Angela Odah

Transition Monitoring Group (TMG)

 

Chukwuma Ezeala

Justice Development and Peace

Commission (JDPC)

 

John A. Kolawole

Labour Election Monitoring Team (LEMT)

 

Rekiya Momoh

Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN) and

the Muslim League for Accountability (MULAC).

 

The Election Review Meeting and this publication is made possible by the Electoral Reform Network (ERN)

 

(1) Some of the organizations represented at the meeting are coalitions and networks representing scores of other organizations. These include: Transition Monitoring Group which has 170 affiliate organizations; the Electoral Reform Network (ERN), with 73 member organizations; the Labour Election Monitoring Team, representing member unions of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress; the Muslim League for Accountability and the Federation of Muslim Women's Association of Nigeria, both with about 50 member organization

 

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