By Abdulmumin Giwa
The 2015 general elections in Nigeria would remain part of the history of the country because for the first time there was a massive effort of curbing rigging through the use of partly electronic voting. Partly because it is not the entire elections that was digitalized but the process identifying and clearing qualified voters while the voting while counting and compilation of votes were all manual.
I was one of the journalists that reported the entire elections activities in Kaduna including results announcements which was coordinated through tracking activities such that we had details of the results from all the local governments before it was finally announced by INEC.
Prior to that, I was also part of the campaigns that brought APC to power simply because I was hoping for a new regime that would investigate the killing of 34 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) including three sons of the IMN leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky by the PDP government of President Goodluck Jonathan. I was looking forward to seeing the soldiers that perpetrated the murder arrested, tried and prosecuted accordingly while hoping to also see the victims compensated.
I was encouraged into this by speeches attributed to several APC leaders then like the current Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai who condemned the killings describing the Army as the ‘Jonathanian Army’ and even visited the IMN leader to condone him. I even encouraged a lot of my friends in the IMN to help vote out the PDP in order to achieve Justice and many did in their own way.
While doing that we were aware that the IMN has principles and policies binding its public status as a Movement. We knew definitely that for as long as Nigeria continues to be run on the same system no matter who is elected as leader no change could be achieved. This is simply because whosoever gets elected would run his government based on the system existing. More so, the history of elections in the country has shown that Nigerian leaders are not actually elected but selected. This means that voting is only an exercise of justifying and giving credibility and integrity to whosoever is made the president.
To divert a little, there have been times in the past elections when the total numbers of those who voted have exceeded the numbers of those registered to vote and those claimed to have won elections were sworn in as elected Nigerian leaders despite the short-comings. Hence whether one votes or not whosoever is selected will be sworn-in. For this reason, a lot of Nigerians, especially the elites never bothered to vote.
The 2015 election came with a difference that brought about many registered voters which led to the APC winning the election. This is not because the PDP could not declare itself winner but for some anonymous reasons. All the PDP needed to do at that time was to declare itself winner and manage the post-elections crises for a few days and that is all. But there were foreign interests in the whole matter that witnessed the several comings to Nigeria of the American Secretary of State John Kerry and the several visits to Europe and America of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is even because of the anonymous agenda that the main stream media on the global stage gave President Buhari all the publicity he needed.
To even prove further that there was foreign interest in the elections the then incumbent president Jonathan congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari for winning the elections even before the results were announced.
The elections took place and the APC politicians were sworn-in and the government never showed any interest in investigating the 2014 massacre of IMN members by the Army despite several moves by the IMN.
The country witnessed the several foreign travels of President Muhammadu Buhari despite stringent economic situations during one of which he visited the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran Sayyid Ali Khamenei. This even raised more hope in certain quarters that the government might soon decide to investigate the 2014 massacre. Some members of the IMN media team in an interview with the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai raised the same question for which he promised action but did nothing. This is not talking about submissions made to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) all with the intention of seeking redress through civil and peaceful means.
It was later that it came to be known that PMB was selected, anointed and brought to power by the foreign interests one of which is clearly to deal with the IMN which they see as a threat to their interest in the region and Africa at large. America, Israel and Saudi Arabia all want IMN eliminated. They want Sheikh Zakzaky killed, his followers dispersed, and the Movement banned. It is the job of PMB as a pay back to his foreign masters for bringing him to power.
Under a flimsy pretext of traffic obstruction the government found an excuse and clampdown on the IMN. They killed over 1000 members of the Movement, buried both dead and living in mass graves, some of who were burned alive, they demolished IMN property, blackmailed the Movement, they killed the IMN leader and his wife but they refused to die and they murdered three more of their children.
Here as in other places across the world using Voters Card to achieve justice and fairness further became a mirage. The same people voted for to help seek justice and fairness turned out to become tyrants and oppressors who serve as stooges and could kill their own people to satisfy foreign interests.
In as much as at individual levels members of the IMN could be active in politics, for which I know some that have contested in some of the party platforms or even worked at various cadres of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and even as journalists that have tracked the elections processes like myself, but not the Movement as a body becoming political. This is so because its members are Nigerians and have the right to enjoy all rights enjoyed by citizens. All these are simple principles and policies.
These and many more dismiss the claims by Governor El-Rifai that the IMN members don’t vote nor recognize those in power for what they are as bloody lies and cheap blackmail. Definitely, no right thinking person would expect the IMN to belong to or identify with any political party because some of its members already belong to various parties depending on their political and community interests. So logically the IMN as a Movement cannot belong to any political party nor can it use politics to achieve its aims and objectives.
We have seen various Movements across the world that have been ousted by simply violating their principles and policies and becoming political. The FIS of Algeria won elections from the presidency to the wards but is now no more because it violated its own principles and policies; the Ikhwan of Egypt did the same and even won presidential elections but they were mischievously and hypocritical ousted in a coup de tat supported by global powers; even after a massive uprising that led to the creation of Pakistan from India, which even makes Pakistan the only country that is 100% Muslim but yet could not achieve its basic objective to mention but a few.
Such ideas as using Voters Card to oust politicians, is only a mirage and distraction from the real path and course of any genuine mass movement. This is so because there is a difference between reform and revolution. Reform takes place under an existing system where people strive to bring changes and update their existing system through various ways like referendum, elections, constitutional reviews and others.
On the other hand, revolution has to do with changing the entire system and establishing another system through raising public awareness and conscience. Through a mass movement, the people just adopt an entirely new system and oust the old one.
Hence whosoever is on the revolutionary track is not influenced in any way by reform ideas. Reform ideas cannot be adopted as revolutionary ideas because they are even less functional and misdirecting. Where a total change of system is required, reform ideas could only lead one to adopting changes within the same system through voting, referendum, constitutional review and others and not bring about the change of the system. It should be clear that where total change of system is required, then it is only the revolutionary processes that could be adopted and not the reform ideas. The right treatment should be given for the right ailment.
At least Nigerians have witnessed that, through the recent change they voted for where no change has been seen and there is no hope of seeing it in the future, that the solution to their problem does not lie in reform or getting a new leader. Their problem is the system which needs to be changed and it is the people that will do that through a mass movement with a strong and dedicated leadership. For as long as the system continues to exist, even an angel from heaven will be run according to it and nothing would be achieved when he leads it, because it is the system in place.
It should also be noted that the struggle for the establishment of fairness and justice is universal and has no boundary. It is not a racial, sectarian, tribal, religious or sectional affair. It is rather a humanitarian affair. Every individual not only has right to his ideas or beliefs but also has the right to propagate them. If the people accept such ideas based on conviction and not imposition and decide to adopt them, then no one can stop them. It is their own prerogative, stopping them will tantamount to extremism and fanaticism for anyone to fight them because of their conviction and belief. On the other hand he should be civil enough to present better arguments to convince the people. This is simple civility.
Thinking of using Voters Card to do some political wonders in the name of IMN only leads to distractions. They are better left to individuals’ personal discretions and not the policy or principles of the Movement. Why I see them as distractions is that the perpetrators of the Zaria massacre are trying to use this to distract the movement from its true course and the real campaign for now, which is what they want to forcefully douse down by all means. They want to divert the movement from chanting Free Sheikh Zakzaky!
For instance the Kaduna Governor El-Rufai has been spreading lies that we don’t vote and we don’t recognize the voted. He claims that we do not recognize the President as President and him as the state governor, which is like saying that was the reason why they killed and mass buried IMN members. They are trying to justify this by wanting the IMN to come out and call on its members not to vote. If on the other hand the Movement buys into the plot and engages in politics it will automatically derail from its course and it will end up the way other Movements have ended like the Ikhwan in Egypt and the FIS in Algeria.
Therefore this issue of using the Voters Card to oust the government does not add any value to the struggle. It could even be seen that the same people we used the Voters Card to bring in to get justice for the murder of 34 of our members are the same people that have murdered over thirty times the number of those we planned to seek justice for through them. Some of those murdered in the Zaria massacre participated actively in the political processes using none-governmental organizations in both academic institutions and the public, social media and the main stream media. I don’t need to mention names. Some of them have their families entirely wiped out, killing the husband, the wife and the children in the Zaria massacre while some have lost up to four children and people like myself have my wife’s Chemist and other properties destroyed by government sponsored hoodlums and retrenched from work.
Whosoever it is that you plan to vote out tantamount to voting in his opponent in, what tells you that the opponent is not your next contracted murderer? I think what should be of concern to the members of the Movement is reaching out to the public and spreading awareness. People need to know what the Movement is all about and how bright a future it has for them. All the energy and resources to be expended on political activities of ousting the tyrants should rather be expended on promoting the virtues and activities of the Movement instead of engaging on the Voters Card mirage.
By Abdulmumin Giwa