THE HEROISM OF BASHIR MACHINA
DR ABUBAKAR ALKALI
Convener, Movement for a New Nigeria (MNN).
‘The winner of the APC primary election for Yobe North senatorial zone and APC senatorial candidate for the zone, Bashir Machina should stay the course in his fight to secure his mandate. He could rewrite Nigeria’s political history and can well be the hero of Nigeria’s democracy’
When the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ruffled feathers and created a state of electoral confusion by forwarding the name of Senator Ahmad Lawan who never participated in the senatorial primary election for Yobe North, was said to have purchased the form (which is alleged to be backdated) for senatorial primaries but never filled or submitted it or ever screened for the election in place of the winner of the election Bashir Machina, the ruling party has established one thing: APC tickets are acquired by either allocation, inheritance or both.
Sen Ahmad Lawan never participated in the APC senatorial primary election for Yobe North, was not screened for the election, yet the APC NWC unapologetically forwarded his name to the independent national electoral commission (INEC) as its flagbearer for the election. This is indeed insipid and an electoral absurdity that runs counter to not only the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria CFRN 1999 (as amended) and the 2010 electoral act (as altered) but also to logic and commonsense. It can best be described as daylight robbery.
Is the APC NWC trying to hand over victory for Yobe North senate seat in the 2023 elections to the opposition PDP on a platter of Gold as it did in Zamfara and Rivers states in the 2019 elections? Pray not!
It beggars belief that in this era of the INEC’s ‘rule of law’ mantra and ‘due process’ and to abide by the provisions of the electoral act in all electoral processes, the APC could summon courage to rape the 1999 constitution and the electoral act 2010’in one fell swoop and forward the name of a person who never participated in the primary election and was never screened for the election.
The Ahmad Lawan camp knows full well that he is not the rightful flag bearer hence they resorted to lobbying and begging the winner Bashir Machina to step down and withdraw from the race for Ahmad Lawan to grab the ticket effortlessly. They know they don’t have a case hence they resorted to lobbying. It was reported that they first lobbied the Yobe state governor Mai Mala Buni to speak to Machina to withdraw and when that failed, they tried to get President Buhari to talk to and pursued Machina to step down but in his characteristic ‘non-interference’ disposition, the President opted to allow the law to prevail and INEC to do its job. The whole world is looking up to INEC to stop this fraud just as every Nigerian who wishes well for the nation is waiting to see Bashir Machina’s name on the ballot as the senatorial candidate for Yobe North in the 2023 elections. The INEC chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu has a date with history, can write his name in gold and leave a lasting legacy by ensuring that justice is not only served but seen to be served and Machina’s name is on the ballot.
Dummimisation of candidates is a form of election rigging that has been invented by Nigerian politicians and has the potentials to destroy our democracy.
Bashir Machina has so far refused to step down for anybody including Ahmad Lawan and all of us who desire change and wish our dear country Nigeria well, salute his (Machina’s) courage and steadfastness.
How could Ahmad Lawan who never participated in the election, was said to have purchased a form which is alleged to be backdated and was never screened for the contest be an ‘overnight candidate’ for the election? Is it because he is the ‘senate President’ or because he is friends with the APC national chairman Senator Abdullahi Adamu who happens to be a senator under Lawan as senate President? Is it because of the powers Ahmad Lawan wields as the ‘senate President’ and top APC decision-maker that the senatorial ticket was allocated to him by extra-judicial fiat? When will our dear country Nigeria learn from its past mistakes? When are we going to start doing the right thing instead of playing the ostrich? Sen Ahmad lawan has been in the National Assembly for 16 years and counting. That was when some of us folks were either in or leaving school. Must he be at the National Assembly forever? If yes, how will the younger ones get their chance to go to the senate?
The questions are many but this one still needs asking ‘Does it hold that if one contests for the Presidency and didn’t make it somehow, he is entitled to a ticket for a lower role? If that’s the case then the APC owes yours truely two tickets having contested for the Presidency in 2019 and 2022 but didn’t get to the finish line.
THE DOUBLE- CONTEST SKULDUGGERY:
INEC SHOULD STOP THE SO-CALLED ‘PLACE-HOLDER’ OR DUMMIMISATION ELECTORAL FRAUD.
IT CANNOT STAND.
A tradition has been established in Nigerian politics whereby top politicians, particularly state governors and senators, engage in DOUBLE-CONTESTS and dummimisation during the 4-year cycle general elections.
On this fraud, politicians purchase TWO NOMINATION FORMS. Normally one for Presidential elections and the other for governorship or senate. They sponsor a dummy and stooge to do what they refer to as ‘place-hold’. The so-called ‘place-holder’
holds the senatorial or Guber ticket for them in absentia. They then proceed to the Presidential primary election, which by the way they are sure to lose anyway. After losing the Presidential primaries, they come back to effortlessly claim the senatorial or Guber ticket from the so-called ‘place-holder’ obviously after proper ‘settlement’ of the place-holder/stooge either in cash or kind.
By the way, a place-holder for an election has no place in the CFRN 1999 (as amended), the electoral act 2010 (as altered), INEC standards or any law for that matter.
Sen Ahmad Lawan wanted to play the double-contest kite but was resisted by the courageous hero Bashir Machina. The rest is history.
The double – contest episode is a clear fraud and the electoral umpire INEC has a moral obligation and a duty to stop it by accepting only ONE FORM for electoral contest. Double-contests are ultra vires to the 1999 constitution (as altered), the 2010 electoral act (as amended) and all extant laws of the federal republic of Nigeria.
It is noteworthy that politicians often times contest elections even when they know full well that they stand no chance of winning. They simply want to attract ‘settlement’ or political sympathy or both. They purchase TWO FORMS and engage in double-contest which tantamount to multiple nominations and contravenes section 39 of the electoral act 2010 (as amended). Albeit section 39 refers to intra-party multiple nominations, the same analogy can be applied to inter-party nominations.
There are several cases of double-contests and dummimisation in Nigeria’s political history. In the run-up to the 2019 general election, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) elevated dummimisation and played the double-contest deception when several of the party’s presidential aspirants (who were governors and senators at the time) sensing that the PDP Presidential primary election was for Atiku Abubakar to lose, went ahead to purchase TWO forms; one for the Presidential primary election and the other for governatorial or senatorial election as the case may be. Only Atiku, the usual winner of PDP Presidential primary elections purchased one form for the Presidential primary. It is jaw-dropping how INEC which claims to apply the law in all that it does, accepted TWO completed nomination forms from aspirants for separate primary elections.The APC also applied dummimisation and the double – contest fraud in the 2015 general elections when Rochas Okorocha who knows full well that he was not going to win the 2015 APC Presidential primary election when people like Muhammadu Buhari are on the ballot, went ahead to sponsor a dummy and place – holder, his in-law (married to Okorocha’s daughter) by the name Uche Nwosu who contested and won the APC gubernatorial ticket for Imo state only to keep it in abeyance for Rochas. After winning the APC ticket to contest the APC Guber election for Imo State, Uche Nwosu waited for his principal to come back from the Presidential primary election in Lagos after which he (Nwosu) ‘withdrew’ from the election. His excellency Rochas, then Governor of Imo state dextrously grabbed his ticket from Nwosu and went ahead to contest and win the gubernatorial election for his second term as the Governor of Imo state.
More recently, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state was reported to have installed a dummy as a ‘place-holder’ by the name Ibrahim Kassim, the secretary to the Bauchi state government who initially won the PDP Bauchi state Guber primary election. After losing the PDP Presidential primary which was won by the likely winner Atiku Abubakar, His excellency Bala Mohammed got Ibrahim Kassim to resign (this time not withdraw but resign) from the contest, another primary election they called ‘re-run’ was conducted which paved the way for Governor Bala Mohammed to painlessly grab his Guber ticket. The re-run cannot stand before the law because a re-run is only conducted when an election is inconclusive which wasn’t the case in the Bauchi PDP Guber primary election. You can only re-run an election if there are irregularities or if it is inconclusive and the court says so.
Also, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state contested for the PDP Presidential election, stepped down for Atiku and ran back to collect the senate ticket for Sokoto South from Aminu Bodinga who initially won the election and served as the dummy for Governor Tambuwal. In the 2019 PDP Presidential primaries, Governor Tambuwal did the same thing when he contested for the PDP Presidential ticket and lost to the usual winner Atiku Abubakar. Governor Tambuwal smartly installed a dummy by the name Manir DanIya who won the 2019 PDP Guber ticket for Sokoto state. After losing the PDP Presidential ticket in Port harcourt, Governor Tambuwal headed straight back to Sokoto to easily get Manir DanIya substituted by a willing INEC thus he (Tambuwal) became the PDP Gubernatorial candidate for Sokoto state in the 2019 election. Manir was to deputise Tambuwal during his (Tambuwal’s) second term as Governor of Sokoto state.
If these same politicians keep recycling themselves from one election contest to another (losing one ticket and grabbing the other all at the same time), how will new hands get the chance to contest? How will there be an injection of new leaders with fresh ideas into the system? Nigeria needs young people with fresh ideas to rescue the country from the brink of the abyss. Double-contests and dummimisation of candidates cannot inject the right people into positions of leadership in Nigeria. If anything, it will continue to stagnate the already frozen political system in Nigeria where the same people and/or their children find their way in and are recycled several times over.
Obviously, we cannot build a democracy through extra-legal manipulations and ‘anything goes’ methods. Dummimisation, double-contests, multiple forms for separate primary elections will all but destroy what is left of Nigeria’s democracy. These obnoxious traits will cripple Nigeria’s latest democracy which is still erroneously addressed as ‘nascent’ despite being 23 years old. INEC’s chairman Professor Yakubu can leave a lasting legacy if he stops the dummimisation or the so-called ‘place-holder’ fraud.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS ON THE LAWAN V MACHINA IMBROGLIO.
Sections 31, 33, 35 and 36 of the electoral act 2010 (as altered) are clear, explicit and unambiguous as regards the grounds for substitution of candidates.
More pointedly, section 33 is clear that a political party cannot substitute a candidate who has satisfied the requirements and whose name has been submitted to INEC unless in the case of withdrawal or death.
The relevant section 33 states that:
‘A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to section 31 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate.
Apart from cementing Machina’s candidacy, section 33 also makes
a gibberish of the deceitful concept of a Dummy and Dummimisation of candidates in Nigeria’s electoral system.
The combined effects of sections 31,33,35 and 36 attest to the fact that Sen Ahmad Lawan’s name was submitted by the APC to INEC as the APC senatorial candidate for Yobe North in the 2023 elections cannot stand. The court will quash it any day.
Bashir Machina has satisfied ALL requirements of the law and his name should go to INEC where it rightly belongs.
Indeed, the APC cannot substitute Bashir Machina’s name for Ahmad Lawan because Machina has not withdrawn and is not dead. It is only if Machina writes to the APC through a letter of withdrawal from the contest or if he is dead that the APC can substitute him. In the event of the latter, INEC is mandated by law to announce a date for fresh election within 14 days as specified in section 36 of the electoral act 2010 (as amended). The APC will then organise the fresh election to elect a replacement. On the former, the APC is required by law to convey such letter of withdrawal to INEC and the APC shall make arrangements to replace the candidate through a primary election or a consensus arrangy.
It is pertinent to state here that a candidate must be sponsored by a political party for an election because the CFRN 1999 (as amended) does not recognise independent candidacy. This is clearly spelt out in section 13(c) of the CFRN 1999 (as amended).
BASHIR MACHINA WILL WIN THIS FIGHT: ALL THAT HE NEEDS ARE CONSISTENCY AND DOGGEDNESS
Both the law and history are with Bashir Machina. The CFRN 1999 (as amended) and the electoral act 2010 (as altered) are both with Machina and so is history because history has established the fact that people on the right side of the law always win at the end no matter how long it takes but they must resist any temptations and be resolute.
Bashir can (and will) win this fight insha Allah (SWT). He will have to be a consistent REBEL to win this fight. He should not accept any form of of settlement.
Machina may not know it or even care about it but he has inspired millions of youths and young people up and down the country. He should not fail these fans of his.
A victory for Machina will eclipse the concept of dummimisation of candidates in Nigeria’s politics because going forward, nobody will agree to submit a dummy to INEC knowing full well that the dummy could Machinise him. Machina should remain strong and avoid any pressures from anti-democracy elements. Bashir will laugh last, the enemies of democracy will lick their wounds and wipe the slate clean.
Victory comes with a price but the rightful always win when they persevere.