By Odoh Michael
In 2003 when President Muhammadu Buhari first ran for the office of President and lost, he went to court to challenge the result of the election because he felt he was cheated and his mandate stolen. He did same in 2007 and 2011, and never called to congratulate his opponents in these elections. Adams Oshiomhole, Rotimi Amaechi and Rauf Aregbeshola, stalwarts of the ruling party also challenged their various governorship elections and won at the Supreme Court.
The electoral act that gave room for candidates to go to court and challenge their election results did that to checkmate the rigging of elections. Destiny may be delayed but it cannot be denied and this to me is the reason for the tribunal. I was shocked when I read Dele Momodu’s tweet asking Atiku Abubakar to call President Muhammadu Buhari and congratulate him. The worse was when I saw same from a senior advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba.
Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to call his opponent in 2015 was because he felt that the election, he conducted was free and fair. But that is not the same with 2019. Atiku’s decision to go to court is a victory for democracy. The court is there to settle issues between parties; it is legal so Atiku’s decision to go to court is in line with the law. The benefit of this is simple, if Atiku emerges victorious in court, Nigeria’s democracy will become reborn. No leader will have the mind to sit back, do nothing and when the people decides to vote him out, he/she rigs the election in their favour because they will know that they will have their day in court and be disgraced out of office. If Atiku sits back and do nothing, two things will happen which will be bad for our democracy: Nigerians will no longer have the zeal to go and vote because they would have lost faith in the electoral system and secondly, it will give room for massive rigging and manipulation of election results and nothing will happen to the perpetrators.
The former Vice President has not declared himself president-elect, neither has he asked his supporters to go against the law so it beats my imagination why people who claim to be defenders of democracy will be against an idea that will strengthen our democracy and give power back to the people. If Atiku refuses to go to court, it means he would have failed the millions of Nigerians who came out to vote for him and who believe that he won the elections. The decision will also affect our democracy negatively as stated above. My advice to Dele Momodu and Olisa Agbakoba is simple, Atiku is not going against the law, he is exercising his right as enshrined in our electoral act, Buhari has done it thrice in the past, let Atiku be. If the APC feels they won the election free and fair, they will have their day in court to defend the victory but let it be known, that Nigerians will no longer sit back under a false peace agreement that will look the other way when our mandate is stolen and expects us to do nothing but remain silent like a lamb that is being led to the slaughter house. Just like I said earlier, if Atiku does nothing, our democracy will die because it will give room for what we saw on the 23rd of February 2019. People must be held accountable for their actions. He who has nothing to hide goes to equity with clean hands.
Atiku is a true democrat who has continued to fight for democracy and 2019 should not be different. Let both parties meet in court, it will only strengthen our democracy. No matter the outcome, the Nigerian people and our democracy will emerge victorious because Nigerians will now know that, the court is there for us and we have a right to use it whenever we feel cheated.
The Judiciary is the best part of democracy and today, Nigerian’s democracy lies before our judiciary, it is up to them to either save it and be on the right side of history or destroy it permanently. Time will tell.
▪ Micahel, a public affairs analyst wrote from Abuja.