MAY 29, 2019 will go in the record books as the day Nigeria formally adopted, institutionalized, and inaugurated rigocracy as a system of government. In my March 2, 2019 column titled “This is Rigocracy, Not Democracy,” I defined a rigocracy as a system of government which owes its existence not to the votes of the electorate of a country, but to audaciously violent, in-your-face, state-sponsored rigging.
The new Buhari regime isn’t just a rigocracy; it’s a rigocracy wrapped in multiple layers of brazen-faced illegitimacy. An illegitimate, ethically stained Chief Justice of Nigeria inaugurated an illegitimate president who unashamedly stole someone else’s electoral mandate in broad daylight. This reality puts Nigeria’s democracy indouble jeopardy.
Buhari (whom people on social media now call “Buharig” because of the unprecedentedly crude electoral heist he perpetrated in February) and the cabal of corrupt, indolent, and unconscionable provincials who rule on his behalf instructed their minions to rig the last presidential election because they knew Buhari had not a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.
The assault on the integrity of the electoral process actually started way before the election took place. The president was told to decline assent to a revised electoral bill that would have made rigging impossible. Then the president’s villainous fixers circumvented the law, and even the conventions of basic decency, to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria and replace him with amalleable, compromised dissembler from his geo-cultural backyard so that any judicial challenge to their planned rigging would be ineffectual.
In spite of their rigging, however, Buhari still came up short on Election Day. He lost to Atiku by nearly 2 million votes, according to figures on INEC’s own server, which they have been unable to refute with the resources of logic and evidence. So Buhari ordered INEC to invent arbitrary figures and proclaim him “winner.” And degenerate, unprincipled, and morally compromised Mahmood Yakubu who has gone down in the annals as the absolute worst and most detestable INEC chairman Nigeria has ever had obliged dutifully.
That’s why more than months after the election, INEC has not had the courage to share the raw data of the election with the public. It’s because the numbers won’t add up. The numbers won’t add up because they are not even remotely faithful to the outcome of the votes cast on Election Day. Mahmood Yakubu’s venal, purchasable INEC is still frantically fudging the figures to justify the fraudulent figures they assigned to presidential candidates.
To be sure, this isn’t the first time elections were rigged in Nigeria. In fact, all previous elections have been rigged. Nevertheless, in past rigged presidential elections, the winners would still have won even if the elections were free and fair. It was often overzealousness and the absence of restraining mechanisms—and legal consequences— against electoral manipulation that enabled their rigging.
For example, in 1999 Olusegun Obasanjo enjoyed the support of every electoral bloc except the Southwest. His minders didn’t need to rig to win. In 2003, he had the support of every voting bloc except the Northwest and the Northeast. That was enough to hand him a handy victory.
In 2007, the late Musa Umaru Yar’adua, whom I refused to address as “president” because of the intolerable magnitude of rigging that brought him to power, would have easily defeated Buhari without the need to rig. Buhari, after all, only campaigned in the Muslim north, which was also Yar’adua’s natal region. The rest of the country saw Buhari for what he was (and is): a violent,closed-minded, malicious religious and ethnic bigot. So no one outside his primordial cocoon wanted to touch him with a barge pole.
Buhari’s public perception as the personification of spiteful religious and ethnic bigotry was unaltered in 2011 when he ran against Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan also didn’t need to rig to defeat him.In an October 10, 2010 article, even Nasir El-Rufai, who later became his most important political asset, rightly characterised him as “perpetually unelectable because his record as military head of state and [his] insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus.”
In 2014, Buhari had a total makeover, thanks to the same Nasir El-Rufai who reached out to his allies in the southwest. He was dressed in borrowed robes — both metaphorically and literally. Jonathan’s own unacceptable incompetence, which we thought was the worst we had witnessed until Buhari came and shattered his record, made Buhari an option. In other words, unvarnished, un-deodorised Buhari was no electoral threat to anyone, so rigging to defeat him was purposeless overkill.
It is also true that Atiku rigged in his strongholds in the last election. I’ve also seen firm videographic evidence to suggest that Atiku’s supporters in the southeast and in the deep south rigged on his behalf, although Atiku’s rigging in his strongholds couldn’t cancel out the magnitude of Buhari’s rigging in the Northwest, the Northeast, and in Lagos.
Nevertheless, the rigging that ultimately determined the outcome of the presidential election this year wasn’t the rigging that took place at polling booths. If it had been limited to that, Buhari would have lost. INEC outright ignored the record of the election stored in its system and plucked grotesque, fantastical numbers out of thin air.It is the first time since 1999 that a presidential candidate who lost an election by a massive margin, even after rigging, has been declared winner. It’s an outrage.
From May 29, I took a decision to stop calling Buhari Nigeria’s president because he is NOT. He is a shameless mandate thief, the face of a fascist rigocracy, and a dreadful reminder of the collapse of all pretences to democracy in Nigeria. Even the president’s minders know this. That is why they couldn’t summon the courage to write an inaugural address for him, making him probably the first president in the world to ever be inaugurated without an inaugural address.
It’s also telling that no past living head of state or president, except the uncommonly genial Yakubu Gowon, honoured the illegitimate, discreditable charade called inauguration. They all withheld their symbolic stamps of approval from the disgraceful travesty.That’s a first.
Because he lacks legitimacy to rule again, expect the official inauguration of fascist totalitarianism in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. All illegitimate regimes brutally suffocate their citizens who stand up to them. That is why François-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire, famously said, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
This is by far the darkest period in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.I commiserate with Nigerians who are witnessing the brutal annihilation of the faintest vestiges of democracy in their country by an inept, illegitimate fraud who is, in addition, held hostage by an irreversible mental and cognitive decline as evidenced, yet again, in the tediously rambling disaster of an interview he gave a few days ago where he couldn’t tell Nigerians who he is.