Admittedly, ours is an ever-changing world. As the world changes, our behavioural patterns and belief systems change along. Until recently, we believed that a man does not appeal in a case he has won – a man goes to court; and at the end of all proceedings, the judge tells him, “You are discharged and acquitted”. We used to know that the man did not raise his hand to say, “I appeal”. Rather, he jumped out of the court; and started rejoicing with the crowd that came to court with him. In most cases, he reached for everything white – white powder, white chalk, and the rest; and got himself immersed in them all from head to toe. It began to dawn on us, with the passage of time, that success at the polls has many parts – some bigger than others. That was when, in politics, the idea of cross-appeal began to creep into our lexicon.
Ordinarily, the courts would hardly grant you the relief you did not ask for. That’s one way of explaining that when your opponent is appealing a case you had originally won, you could come under cross-appeal to rub in a relief that you originally did not seek.
On February 25, 2023, Nigerians trooped out in their millions for the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. All those who went to congratulate the Labour Party, LP, in beating the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos, returned disappointed because, by LP’s estimation, it beat the APC silly in Lagos. Labour says it had about 1 million votes at the presidential election in Lagos, such that the APC did not come within a shouting range of securing even 10% of the total votes cast in Lagos.
The APC brought down its bags of tricks, and through its trimmed and LP’s trimmed scores; added the trimmings to its own figures until the difference between LP and APC was just 10,000 votes. These are all cases where a man can now legitimately appeal a case he has won.
In the words of the Old Spirituals, “You ain’t seen nothing yet”. The March 18 Gubernatorial Election in Lagos was simply a war on the LP candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. He was suddenly declared an Igbo man. They went voodoo. They went spiritual. Slightly short of deporting him across the Niger, anyone and anything that did not agree that he was an Igbo was set ablaze.
“Peter Obi beat them more than he beat us”. Mr. Labaran Maku, the profound Journalist and Government Spokesman of the President Goodluck Jonathan era, was more honest and forth-coming on the issue at hand.
In appraising the imbroglio between the APC and the PDP in his native Nasarawa State, he said that the State is predominantly PDP. Labaran quickly retorted: “Obi beat the APC more than he beat the PDP”. He maintained that they all underrated the LP. They fell into the trap of thinking the LP was still four men tweeting in a room. Until they were swept off the ground.
We keep dancing around in circles. Our lawmakers are the very law breakers. Rather than write a law, they write themselves into the law. Where they cannot do so, the proposed law simply dies in embryo.
What readily comes to mind here is the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, which we have been talking about for only God knows how long. This is certainly an area in which the Legislators must foot-drag. After all, directly or indirectly, they are the main offenders in this area. So, why should they set the trap that will soon catch them? For them, let the spoilt world spoil!
It is almost a full year now, since the Ninth Senate passed the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, but the House of Representatives is still vacillating on it.
As a way of bringing last, that which affects us most, we shall now return to the Nigerian Elections vis-a-vis the electronic transmission of results, which we have opted for. After spending what could easily have procured the best system, it is clear that we may have finally fallen for another half technology. For us, half technology is worse than no technology!
What we mean by the FULL TECHNOLOGY is, that system that would upload the election result into the iRev for onward direct transmission to the Situation Room. What this does is that it cuts off all the Collation Centres, so-called and with the system already properly configured, as the results trickle in, they fall in place at the Polling Unit, Ward, Local Government, State, and National levels, as the computer does the Collation automatically.
Let’s face it. In a Presidential Election, the result from the Oghada polling unit has been uploaded into the iRev. Other than corruption and confusion, what value gets added to that result by stopping over at Eguaholor, Ehor, Benin City and Mahmoud Yakubu’s Office in Abuja? What a bundle of waste!
Yes, we are proudly Nigerian. Hence, everything we do must be affected by Nigeria. The medicine is not effective if it is not bitter. The job is not important, until we make it look cumbersome. In the name of collation, those election results from Oghada must touch ground in every village between Oghada and Abuja. At every stop, they receive some additives that make them truly Nigerian. From the Benin City Collation Point, Prof. Grey, who has been selling handouts to poor students all his life, now sees an opportunity to produce a President. In the fashion of a hunter, he must carry that big elephant he just killed on his head, to personally go and deliver it to the Village Headmaster.
In that black box containing the elephant, he has a tipex and a biro.
In the Economy Compartment of the plane, Prof. Grey has up to two or three hours, depending on the duration of the flight, to romance with the elephant before delivering the same to the Village Headmaster – the only person authorised to announce results!
It sounds like a 15th-century tale in the moonlight, eh? But that’s exactly what we are doing in Nigeria, far into the 21st-century.
In civilized climes, electronic transmission means uploading the results at the polling units into the iRev for onward transmission to the Situation Room in Garki, Abuja. With proper configuration, as the results trickle in from various polling units in the country, each falls into its box; stress-free, hassle-free and error-free. In fact, if the figures for Agenegbode were to mistakenly fall into the Umunede box, the entire system would trigger off ERROR…ERROR…ERROR and that will persist until the error is corrected. As the results come in, they are put on display in the Situation Room, where there is no role for any Village Headmaster.
Thus, as the results come in, they are computer-collated and put on display. It is from here that they are beamed to everybody in the comfort of their homes. These facilities are available at every street corner in the West and they are cost effective!
We can spend less and get more for our elections: besides eliminating the myriads of collation centres that collate nothing, we certainly do not need those vice chancellors that run around the whole place, performing tasks that could be accomplished by any warm body!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Omorotionmwan writes from Canada