Nigerian Politics

Obidients’ post-truth fantasies

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Obidients’ post-truth fantasies

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By: Sanya Oni

If there is anything that the camp of Obidients in their curated world of alternative reality has achieved somewhat, it is how their inelegantly constructed universe of a ‘stolen presidency’ has continued to hold the imagination of their deluded members. Even when the raw facts tell a different story, it seems to me a measure of their relative success that their narratives of ‘flawed’ election have remained the talking point in a segment of the mainstream media and among their allies.

That what I observed on this page last week, as a deliberate mischaracterisation of the February/March polls has gone unchallenged for so long, has remained a mystery!

Now, they appear unstoppable. They have largely succeded in drowning alternative voices, attacking just about everyone and every institution in sight. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, they have attacked for being an unworthy electoral body, with its chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, cast in the most unflattering robes of a con artist. They even dared to accuse the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, of sneaking into London under the cover of darkness for what, they said, was a clandestine meeting with president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to pervert the course of justice! And while at that, they didn’t forget to serve notice that only a judgment acceptable to their quarters will be welcomed!

Lest I forget, their agents have also been unrelenting in their utterly self-serving but atrociously specious narratives of putting the FCT votes over and above the votes cast in the other 36 states apparently convinced that a contrived technical justice could help when all else fails! And while this is going on, we have seen some of their members set up barricades at the Defence House in Abuja to demand that the military step in since apparently, their man can’t be seen to lose fair and square! As for the May 29 inauguration, it is to them off the table, at least, not until they give the go ahead!

Only in the past week, we saw a member of the external wing of the Obidients press such false narratives in foreign media in what I call, a programmed launch into the post-truth era! And all of these because Peter Obi lost an election! That is the scourge that our dear nation is currently afflicted with. It is cerytainly their exclusive, post-truth world.

Coincidentally, whereas Peter Obi, his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed and their Labour Party are not the only the parties in court to challenge the result, only their camp has maintained that the only verdict acceptable is the one that restores an illusory mandate to the third place winner!

Like I stated on this page last week, I appreciate how the pain of losing can sometimes prove difficult to bear. But then, the issue goes beyond such sentiments of a ‘hollow democracy’ as churned by that – not exactly unbiased – talking head comfortably ensconced on a foreign soil.

Unfortunately, while the glib talks of stolen presidency and other tawdry, roadside tales about ‘flawed’ or compromised process continue to rouse the rabble, the filings in court, as well as the raw data from the elections, have certainly provided clearer insights into the claims about the process than those making the wild, ill-mannered effusions would bother to pay attention!

Nigeria is an interesting place to live in. Take a look at the three legged claim put out by Obi to the electoral tribunal: first, that the president-elect, Bola Tinubu is not eligible to be voted for; second, that even if he is eligible, he did not get the two-thirds of votes cast in Abuja and, third, that the election was marred with violence and other malpractices – claims that no less a personality that the revered elder statesman, Robert Clarke, has dismissed, not uncharitably, as non-starters! Short of asking the court to strip the winner of his hard-won victory, I have struggled to find that solid patch on which the mortally wounded third-place winner could stand to stake his claim of victory.

Yet, while the claims in the context of the hard facts would remain delusional, those are the kinds of vituperations that the rest of the orderly society is forced to put up with on a daily basis, and this on an election that all of us – yes, the remnant tribe yet to succumb to that lethal virus of selective amnesia – are participant-observers! It is so wearisome.

The fact, and which has now been borne out by the results, is that the Labour Party candidate, even for all his twitter-showmanship does not as yet possess a viable pathway to the Nigerian presidency. Sure he posted predictable performances in the Southeast states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo and the South-south states of Edo, Cross River and Delta. And added Lagos, the most prized jewel to his crown; and then to a lesser degree, the predominantly Christian states of Plateau, Nassarawa and Benue States. Where else, outside those precincts where the two factors of ethnicity and religion were in strong play that is, could things have turned out otherwise?

Or could Obi have won in Kwara, Kogi or Niger or Kaduna? Or the far north-eastern states of Borno and Yobe. What of the Northwest states of Sokoto, Katsina or even Zamfara? Nigerians would certainly be interested in the results returned by his agents in those states. They will most certainly be interested in finding out why the victories in some parts are deserving of accommodation while the results from the places where losses were recorded are not worth the paper they were written on!

Even more bizarre is the claim of widespread electoral violence. That, we certainly know is not true. Now, any incident of violence is regrettable. Yes, there were a few minor skirmishes but these were simply too minor to have any impact on the overall outcomes. Those interested might want to check this out: the BVAS, according to official sources, recorded 88% success rate in the 176,606 polling units across the country. Only in nine percent of polling units did the BVAS malfunction and were soon after, fixed; in another two per cent, the BVAS malfunctioned and were promptly replaced.

Of course, Nigerians would require some education on the meaning of voter suppression in the context of the polls, whether these are grounded in reality or are mere derivatives of the rumour mill. At an overall voter turnout of 26.87%, the 2023 election is without question, the lowest in Nigeria’s chequered democratic history. But then, it is – as they say – what it is; the issue of voter apathy neither detracts from its credibility nor impugns its outcomes. Put it to the failure of party-mobilisation.

In any case, Nigerians might find it interesting that the turnout in the Southeast averaged 19.95%. In fact, Obi’s home state of Anambra turned out a mere 22.61 percent of which he recorded a moon slide victory of ninety-something percent after his supporters reportedly chased away the supporters of other parties.

Remember, the same Peter Obi and his Labour Party, would speak of an alleged voter intimidation and suppression in a Lagos that turned out an equally modest 17.53 percent? Will the charge of voter suppression also apply to his kith in Ebonyi (19.86 percent), Enugu (21.34 percent) and Imo (18.95 percent)?

I once heard a sage say that you don’t beat a child and expect him/her not to cry; only that it would be foolhardy to allow the child to set the house ablaze in the event that he/she could not have things his/her way. It seems about time rational minds began to speak out!