Thursday, November 12, 2009

On David Mark, Maurice Iwu and Electoral Reform

The continuous utterance of thoughtless remarks by the Senate President, David Mark is becoming quite worrisome.

As Communications Minister, David Mark told 88 million Nigerians that “telephone is not for the poor”. When the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said on her last visit to Nigeria that the nation leaders should put their house in order and provide good leadership, Senator Mark replied
How can somebody be sitting in the United States and be telling us how to solve serious crisis in this country? Have they got the solution to their problems? How did they find themselves in Iraq? Mrs Clinton seems to have taken her briefs from individuals or groups and other failed politicians who have an axe to grind with the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
How can you describe such a response from a Senate President? Exaggerated patriotism or symptoms of delusion?

On the recent 49th Independence anniversary, Senator Mark again exhibited his delusional tendencies by telling us that “Nigeria has achieved its full potential”. How can anyone in the face of growing poverty say that Nigeria has achieved its potential? Maybe the N1.3 trillion shared annually in salaries and allowances amongst the legislators, or the personal wealth he acquired during the Military regime are his indices for measuring a nation’s potential.

As the nation’s number three citizen, one would expect that Senator Mark would at least exhibit some level of decorum when making public statements. But based on his recent comments on the INEC Chairman and electoral reform, it seems the Senate President has become an ‘obsessive-compulsive’.

Speaking on the theme: “Legislating for an enduring electoral system in Nigeria” at the 2009 Senate Retreat, the Senate president was quoted as saying:
“Our electoral process is certainly not the worst in the world as some self-styled analysts would want us to believe and let me say further and more emphatically this time that the removal of Prof. Maurice Iwu is not the review or the reform of our electoral process. “Removal of Iwu is not synonymous with electoral reform or review. Those calling for the removal of Iwu as the first step are trivialising a very serious national issue”
It is not surprising to hear a self-styled patriot cum Senate President, say that our electoral system is not the worst in the world. How can you expect a man to criticise a system from which he has been a huge beneficiary. We need not to remind Senator Mark that it is the rot and institutionalised fraud in our electoral system that has provided him a ticket to the National Assembly. It is therefore right to say that any criticism levelled against the electoral commission will be an indictment of his (s)election as a Senator.

It has become quite common for our leaders and those purporting to be ‘patriotic’ citizens to utter such statements whenever the government is criticised for not doing the right thing. Government apologists are always quick to remind us we are not the worst after all. Meaning we should happy with what we have (!) Whether that’s meant to be a consolation I do not understand. But the question is why can’t we ever compare ourselves with the best? Why do we console ourselves by comparing ourselves with failures?

The most infuriating thing about Senator Mark’s recent statement were his comments that, “…..removal Prof Maurice Iwu is not the review or reform of our electoral process”. Yes, the review of our electoral process is more than just Maurice Iwu. After all, Maurice Iwu is only an appointee. It is also right to say that that it will be difficult to have an umpire who will be unbiased under the current electoral laws – when the President can just handpick whoever he wants as the INEC Chairman.

However, it is ludicrous for anyone to think that the imperfection of our electoral system exonerates Maurice Iwu from the electoral fraud he has directly or indirectly condoned. The legacies of Maurice Iwu are there for all to see, From Ekiti to Anambra,, Ondo to Kogi, Sokoto to Bayelsa, Cross River to Adamawa, Maurice Iwu made it a point of duty to subjugate the principles of free and fair elections. There is not gainsaying that Maurice Iwu actively colluded with the ruling party, through ‘elimination by substitution’ to deprive some candidates of their constitutional rights to participate in the elections.

For anyone then to think that Maurice Iwu himself is not a problem, that person must either be deranged or suffering from mental amnesia. The question we need to ask is, based on the resources at his disposal, as the Prof. Iwu discharged the functions of his office to the best of his ability? Let’s forget about the electoral flaws, Prof Iwu has demonstrated over and over again that he his not only incompetent but also lacking moral integrity.

When I was growing up, I used to remember a man called Justice Victor Ovie-Whiskey, Chairman of the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO). For me and people of my generation, the name Ovie-Whiskey was synonymous with ‘fraud’. This was because of the role Ovie-Whiskey played during the 1983 democratic elections – blatantly supporting the ruling party. But fast forward to 2009, Maurice Iwu has made Ovie-Whiskey look like an angel.

The removal of Maurice Iwu alone will not provide solution to the challenges in our electoral system. But let’s make no mistake; his ‘immediate’ sack will be a great step towards achieving a sustainable electoral reform.

1 comment:

townncrier said...

We really need genuine electoral reforms in Nigeria.