Pic.3. An a-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), returns some election materials to INEC Local Government office in Suleja, Niger State following the shift of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23.
When the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, first raised the alarm on Monday over missing result sheets for Enugu West Senatorial District, I am certain many Nigerians must have thought he was stoking propaganda, which is next to nature of the politicians in election season as this.
According to the ranking Senator, “Some people intended the Saturday elections for evil, but all things work together for good unto those that love God, those who repose their absolute trust in Him.
“Don’t forget that some people had earlier boasted how they would overrun us by isolating the State for a staggered election. You must also have read the reports that Enugu State was one of the states that didn’t receive any materials or materials were incomplete.
“They ensured that the result sheets for the entire Enugu West Senatorial District were missing or not delivered. I have lodged the complaint with the INEC authorities, but the result sheets are still missing as I speak”.
But for those, who thought it was mere propaganda, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, had a shocker in store for them. Not only did he confirm to Premium Times, an online newspaper, that result sheets meant for some local government areas in Enugu State could not be found until the postponement was announced and that the result sheets for the Aninri Local Government Area (where Ekweremadu hails from) were yet to be found by INEC as at Wednesday, 20th February, he added that result sheets meant for Lagos and Gombe states found their ways to Enugu State.
MAccording to Ononamadu, election materials belonging to other states ”but which strayed” into the state had been returned to the states they belong to, while efforts were on to sort out the result sheets for Ekweremadu’s senatorial district.
He, however, insisted that it was not a case of missing result sheets, but shortage of result sheets. Whatever that meant.
His words: “The problem we had was a shortage not that the result sheets were missing. There were other ‘things’ belonging to other states that we found in our packages like Gombe and Lagos States but they have been returned to them. Results sheets for Gombe and Lagos States were found in our packages but they have since been moved back. All our result sheets are complete now except for the Aninri local government area. Except that, everything is okay.”
Also, as the nation tried to make a meaning out of the befuddling scenario, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Kwara State, Malam Atahiru Madami, released another benumbing details to the effect that both Presidential and Senatorial election result sheets meant for Kwara were found in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He made this known on the sideline of the distribution of sensitive materials to each of the 16 local government areas in Kwara state at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ilorin on Wednesday.
“The result sheets for presidential and senatorial elections are with the FCT INEC. It was a mix-up and they will send it to us this evening”, he stated, explaining further that result sheets meant for Lagos state senatorial election also found its way to Kwara state. Haba!
Also, at the Ibadan, Oyo State branch of CBN, it was discovered during the distribution of sensitive materials that INEC sensitive forms meant for Kano State were found in the election material deliveries in Oyo.
Confirm the entire story, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had while reacting to a question posed to him on the alarms raised by Ekweremadu, by Samson Itodo of Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), at INEC’s daily briefing in Abuja, sincerely admitted the developments.
Mahmood said, “About missing sensitive materials, yes, we have received reports here and there. But they are small and, in fact, we are working to immediately respond to this, including the state and senatorial district you mentioned. It is only one form- the EC8D1. We have compiled those and we are going to respond. All materials will be made available to the states where those materials are needed before the election on Saturday”.
While this is reassuring, coming from the INEC Chairman himself, comments trending on the missing result sheets affecting Ekweremadu’s senatorial district and the mysterious landing in FCT of presidential and senatorial election result sheets for Kwara, home state of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, are fraught with suspicions. The reason is not far-fetched. The story of PDP’s resurrection after the 2015 defeat can never be complete without the mention of Ekweremadu, a one-man riot, the lion-hearted, and irrepressible opposition leader. The man has been through so much political persecution that only a principled politician like him could withstand.
Also, the story of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) present travails will never be complete without the mention of the party’s ill-advised determination to see to the political destruction of Oloye himself, cat with nine lives, Dr. Saraki.
So, whereas INEC’s explanations are well taken, no one would blame Ekweremadu for asking “Why me?” or his supporters and kinsmen for wondering “Why Aninri?” A man ever stung by a bee flees at the sight of a housefly.
However, be it conspiracy as conspiracy theorists would want us to believe or sheer mix-up (ineptitude) as INEC prefers us to believe, Caesar’s wife (INEC) must be above suspicion. Saraki and Ekweremadu’s political survival and fate should be left solely in the hands of their constituents.
Importantly, in this tension-soaked election season, Nigeria is like a dry grass soaked in petrol and sprayed with gunpowder. Anything capable of igniting Nigeria or any part thereof should be seriously avoided. It is the hope of all lovers of democracy that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, international community, and election observers pay special attention to Kwara and Enugu.
Oluka is an online publisher and entrepreneur