As I pondered over the 2023 presidential election that just concluded, I began to weave it around my dream about one of the present-day political actors and some other political events whose years of occurrence ended with figure “3”, as in 1983, 1993, and now 2023.
It has also led my inner mind to ask, “is there anything about the year of elections ending with the number “3” that we must be mindful of in Nigeria?” Curiously, these years have semblances in the political affairs of eminent political actors from the Southwest. The political actors are the Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola, and now the Lion of Bourdillon and Jagaban of Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who emerged as the presidential flag bearers of their respective political parties.
I authored a post on May 7, 2022, on my Facebook page, which should be about nine months before the presidential election that was recently concluded. The post was about my dream of Tinubu and the 2023 presidential election outcome. The first part of the dream has come to pass. But my worries and concerns are in the second part. Though dreams could reminisce visions and warnings, people can interpret them according to their physical or spiritual insights. As the all-powerful, all-knowing, and omniscient, God could intervene to reduce the negative impacts of dreams on His people. You may wish to search for the post.
Back to figure 3 under discussion, in 1983, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria and Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria emerged as flag-bearers of their political parties, respectively. According to the 1979 constitution, for a candidate to be pronounced the President-elect, the candidate must score 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the 19 states.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Shehu Shagari scored 25% in 12 states, and Chief Awolowo polled 25% in less than nine states. Based on the twelve-two-third rule, Chief Obafemi Awolowo headed for the court seeking a re-run since no candidate met the 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the 19 states. Chief Awolowo’s camp argued that two-thirds of 19 should be 13. In contrast, Chief Richard Akinjide leading the team of lawyers for Shagari, argued that their candidate needed twelve-two-thirds of 19 and not 13 as a whole number. The court, in the end, pronounced Alhaji Shehu Shagari the winner.
In 1993, the Social Democratic Party (SDP)) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) party, formed by the military under General Ibrahim Babangida, Rtd., went into the June 12, 1,993, presidential elections with Bashir Tofa of NRC and Chief M.K.O. Abiola, emerging as the SDP and NRC flag bearers respectively.
Nigerians were busy preparing for the election when the Association For A Better Nigeria (ABN), formed by elites to keep the military in power, and led by Late Senator Arthur Nzeribe, secured an order of the court on June 10, 1993, to halt the presidential election scheduled for June 12, 1993.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) under Professor Humphrey Nwosu defied the order because Decree 13 of 1993 ousted the power of any court to stop the activities of the NEC. NEC conducted the election and started announcing the election results. By June 15, NEC had posted some of the results when another restraining order of the court was secured by the ABN to restrain NEC from continuing with the release of the remaining results. That was all the military needed to annul the election, citing court protection, corruption, and rigging.
In 2023, thirty years after the 1993 nocuous courts’ intervention, history now calls attention to our political past experience. Providence again knocks at our doors and beckons us to watch and pray. The Supreme Court will be called upon to play a significant role in determining who Nigeria’s President and the Armed Forces Commander-In-Chief will be sworn into office by May 29, 2023.
Two days ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC) declared the “Tinushettima” (Tinubu and Shattima) of the APC winners of the Presidential election outcome, which was based on the figures it collated. Since then, youths, activists, and geo-political organizations from different backgrounds have vowed to retrieve their stolen mandates.
The “obidatti” (Obi and Datti) of the Labour Party (LP) are confident that their mandates shall be legally retrieved and restored through a legal process. On the other hand, “Atikowa” (Atiku and Okowa) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are also confident that their mandates shall be retrieved and restored through the appropriate legal procedures. Meanwhile, only one Presidential candidate will be cleared to lead Nigeria for the next four years. Usually, the adversarial nature of litigation makes it near impossible to be true friends when judgment is given in favor of one party.
In trying to unravel and connect the political puzzles, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court to dispense justice that should calm frail nerves and stabilize Nigeria. In the political fights about to ensue, the Supreme Court, in arriving at its decision, would look at the delivery and impact statements from the parties, refutation, defense, inappropriate conduct, available evidence, the constitution’s provisions, precedents, etcetera to arrive at its judgment. But from the power of hindsight, whichever way the pronouncement goes at the end of its proceedings, there is no way things can be the same in Nigeria, especially in the immediate post-judgment period.
When we compare Nigeria’s situation with what happened in the 2020 elections in the United States of America, which was not as badly handled as ours, POTUS Donald Trump (DT) hoisted a conspiracy theory red flag, allegedly accusing the Democrats of stealing his mandate. POTUS DT’s theory later led to a brutal attack on Capitol Hill, the seat of Congress, on January 6, 2021. But for America’s solid political ethics and legislative and judicial institutions in place, which stood on the side of truth, America would have been swallowed up by the insurrection.
With the dream in my subconscious, the charged political situation in the country, the mood of the young versus the old, the massive media truth and untruth, the gory pictures of voters’ harassment, the failure of INEC Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines in some areas, the extension of voting in some places, shredding of completed ballot papers in some states, infractions on the electoral process, inability to upload the results on a real-time basis by INEC in the first few days preceding the election, this next battle shall be fierce and, therefore, need God’s intervention to keep the country in one piece.
Except another Ebele Goodluck Jonathan emerges to say, “no political ambition of anybody is worth any Nigerian’s blood,” we are in for a bumpy political ride. As drivers or passengers in the mandate restoration or affirmation process, let all the actors fasten their seat belts long before they reach the day of judgment.
Also, I advise every Nigerian in different camps that will take up the legal gauntlet against each other that they should not forget- after the legal battle, we all still need a country we can call home. Let them also note that no country in the sub-region can take refugees (God forbid) from Nigeria.
Grace and peace!!!