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Opposition Politics And Campaign For New Nigeria



Ethnic and Religious Hatred and the Deceitful Campaigns in Nigeria By Salihu Moh. Lukman


Salihu Moh. Lukman

With the successful conclusion of the PDP National Convention on Saturday, October 30, 2021, credit must be given to leaders and members of the party for being able to manage the process and elect a new leadership for the party. Those who are not members of the party should urge the newly elected PDP leaders to build on the new atmosphere to start a new beginning for the party based on honesty, respect for one another and above all recognising that politics is all about negotiations and agreement. Every negotiation should produce agreement based on majority decisions. Of course, people are free to disagree with decisions of the majority. But such disagreements should respect the rights of the majority to direct how parties, society and nation should be governed. When disagreement turn to rebellion, it is either that those who disagree are not democrats, or they lack the capacity to negotiate and through negotiations win support of majority, or they are very desperate to have their says and ways in dictating how organisations and the wider Nigerian society should be governed. It may also be a combination of all the above.

Ordinarily, the successful conclusion of the PDP National Convention should only be celebrated by PDP members. However, given the important role the party has played in orienting politics in Nigeria for 16 years between 1999 and 2015, during which Nigerian politics was made to be opposed to negotiations, it is important to acknowledge that the October 30 PDP National Convention is about the first time, since 1999 perhaps, that there is some semblance of negotiations to produce leaders of the party. Whether in the end, the new leaders will be allowed by the power blocs within the PDP to facilitate negotiations, is completely a different matter. By the way, the fact that the party can elect a young person, below 30 years as National Youth Leader means that PDP leaders have recognised that the old culture of arrogance and impunity must be avoided if they are to win the support of Nigerians, which is very positive. This is itself a confirmation that once processes are managed democratically; the right results would be achieved.

Every Nigerian should wish PDP, its leaders and party members well. Nigerians should hope that PDP leaders will build on the successes of the National Convention to re-orient their politics based on honesty and respect for one another. Being honest should be about taking responsibility. From all indications, PDP leaders have only moderated themselves and submitted to processes of internal negotiations up to the National Convention because they are out of power at the federal level. It can be predicted that had PDP been the ruling party in the country, the approach would have been different. Probably, as was the case with all previous PDP leaders, new leaders would have emerged without any negotiation and the National Convention would have been reduced to window dressing ritual, legitimising the instructions of a serving PDP president. Perhaps, everything leading to the PDP National Convention happened because there is no serving PDP president acting as the leader of the party. Good enough, being out of power, PDP leaders had to respect democratic process, which raises the hope of especially PDP members that the party is being reformed.

READ ALSO: Alaafin Of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III: On History, His Kingdom, And The Yoruba

The worrisome issue is that notwithstanding some of the departures from the old abrasive PDP, just as Nigerians would want to wish PDP well, it must be pointed out that many of the speeches of PDP leaders at the convention demonstrated lack of commitment to take responsibility. This is largely because, as far as PDP leaders are concerned all the problems facing Nigeria today are the creation of APC. Almost all the speeches of PDP leaders during the convention were about winning election in 2023 and returning to power. Sadly, there is no indication, at any point during the convention, showing how the party intend to solve Nigeria’s challenges. Not even a reference by any PDP leader during the convention to any provision of the party’s manifesto, which must have gathered dust in the cabinet of INEC. Perhaps, apart from the few founding members of the party, almost all the delegates to the National Convention have never seen the manifesto of the PDP.

Recall that the PDP, in November 2015, through Chief Raymond Dokpesi, then acting as the Chairman of the National Planning Committee for its then National Conference, admitted that it was ‘aware of the errors of the past 16 years, as human beings, we must have made mistakes and we could not meet the expectations of Nigerians, for that we tender an unreserved apology.’ Being honest is about taking responsibility. What were the errors and in what ways has PDP failed to meet expectations of Nigerians? Above all, how does PDP intend to govern Nigeria differently, if Nigerians are to elect them back to power? As much as it is rational for PDP leaders to campaign against the APC and its leaders, being a party that acknowledges its mistakes in 2015, PDP leaders should understand that mobilising Nigerians to vote them should take its bearing from how they want to govern the country differently from the way they did between 1999 and 2015. Anything short of that will be dishonest.

May be the last leader of PDP who was honest and was able to take responsibility was the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. This is because after acknowledging that the election that brought him to power in 2007 was fraudulent, he set up the Justice Mohammed Uwais Election Reform Committee, which laid the foundation for the reform of INEC. In addition, after more than six years of denial by the PDP-controlled Federal Government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigerian army wasn’t responsible for the massacre of innocent citizens in Zaki-Biam, Benue State, which took place on October 20 – 24, 2001, in November 2007, the late President Yar’Adua visited Benue State and personally apologised. Had the killing of 19 soldiers in Zaki-Biam of October 12, 2001, taken place during the present PDP administration of Governor Samuel Ortom, which led to the retaliation by the Nigerian military resulting in the massacre of innocent villagers, Fulanis, and President Buhari would have been accused by the Benue State Government as those responsible for both the killing of 19 soldiers and the massacre of innocent people of Zaki-Biam.

Without doubt, there are certainly leaders in PDP who are honest. The worrisome issue is that such leaders are few and face a lot of frustrations, which partly explains the exodus of many courageous political leaders out of the party. Instead of recognising this reality, the mainstream PDP leaders are in denial, which is why the party continue to delude itself with the belief that it can mobilise Nigerians to elect them back to power by simply claiming that all the problems facing the country are a creation of the APC. Unfortunately, somehow, the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni has allowed someone like Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, who is among the dishonest category of PDP leaders to cross over from the PDP to APC without any initiative to reform him (Mr. Fani-Kayode).

READ ALSO: Ethnic and Religious Hatred and the Deceitful Campaigns in Nigeria

The liberal disposition of APC, combined with in the inability of some of the appointees of the APC-led Federal Government to manage issues of communication based on the strategy of contracting partnership with Nigerians in responding to national challenges, allowed a false and misleading narrative of failure against APC government and President Buhari to dominate public debate. Consequently, some of the PDP leaders had the audacity to shamelessly accuse APC of being corrupt while addressing delegates during the National Convention at a time when the country is passing through the shock that some of the recovered ‘property’ from a former Minister of Petroleum under former President Goodluck Jonathan (2009 – 2015), Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke include under wears (bras and pants), estimated at $12.5 million, more than N6 billion.

If the value of under wears bought with looted resources of the Federal Government by a PDP political appointee is more than N6 billion ($12.5 million), it can only be imagined how much Mrs. Diezani alone has stolen. This is not to talk of the $2.1 billion funds for the procurement of arms to fight insurgency diverted by Col. Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser under former President Jonathan, which were allegedly used to fund PDP campaigns for 2015 elections. In fact, the new PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu is alleged to have collected N345 million out of the diverted $2.1 billion. Other mindboggling disclosures of corruption during the sixteen years of PDP such as cases of subsidy payments fraud, Police Pension Task Force racket, Halliburton, Malabo scandals, etc. are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians.

It may be necessary to also request the newly elected leadership of PDP under Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to perhaps investigate the management of funds mobilised for the construction of the 12-storey PDP National Secretariat located on Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja, which is now abandoned as a demonstration of commitment to rescue Nigeria. Having mobilised close to N30 billion and expended over N16 billion, a born-again PDP leadership committed to rescuing Nigeria should be able to fix its internal problems first. Like it is often said, charity begins at home. A party that is committed to rescuing Nigeria should first and foremost rescue itself from its internal adversaries.

PDP leaders must always remember the saying in law, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Having presided over the affairs of Nigeria for sixteen years between 1999 and 2015, what were the specific achievements of the PDP? How many times for instance was the contract for Second Niger Bridge awarded before 2015? How much was disbursed? And what was the level of work done before 2015? These questions can also be asked in respect of Lagos – Ibadan Road project and many other abandoned projects, which were inherited by the APC government of President Buhari. Today, the Second Niger Bridge is more than 50% completed with guaranteed funding and scheduled to be commissioned in 2022. So far, progress has been made by the APC-led government of President Buhari on abandoned or stalled projects that were inherited, like the Loko-Oweto Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Sagamu-Benin Expressway, the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway, Obajana-Kabba Road, Ilorin-Jebba Road, Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Road, and several others are in progress, with some already close to completion.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Democracy And Challenges Of Nation Building

There are over 900 active road contracts, covering the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of more than 13,000km of federal roads and highways across the country. In addition, the Federal Executive Council meeting of Wednesday, October 27, 2021, approved another set of road projects covering 1,804.6 kilometres across the country, estimated to cost N621.2 billion to be executed by the NNPC. Outside road projects, the railways have returned. Acknowledging that both the 168km Abuja-Kaduna Rail and the 42.5km Abuja Light Rail commissioned by President Buhari in 2016 and 2018 respectively were inherited from the PDP, the 156km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail, the first double-track Standard Gauge Rail project in West Africa was started and completed by the APC-led government of President Buhari and has been commissioned. In addition, the 327km Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail, was completed by President Buhari’s administration 33 years after construction began. This means all the different administrations of PDP between 1999 and 2015 met the project and left it uncompleted but the APC government of President Buhari completed it. Other rail projects commissioned by President Buhari include Ibadan – Kano, Port Harcourt – Maiduguri, Port Harcourt – Calabar and Kano – Maradi standard gauge lines, all with guaranteed funding.

Once the attitude of PDP leaders is to mobilise Nigerians without acknowledging this reality, it means nothing has changed in PDP. It should therefore be expected that PDP campaigns for 2023 will be oriented to mislead Nigerians into voting them into power. To achieve that every problem of the country will continue to be politicised and leaders of PDP such as Governor Ortom would continue to propagate hatred against APC and President Buhari based on so-called ‘fulanisation’ and ‘islamisation’ agenda. This is a variant of ultra-right-wing politics campaign, which is neo-fascist and neo-Nazist, which is being gradually adopted by PDP. Once PDP allowed its politics to be based on ultra-right-wing politics, its capacity to regulate the conduct of its elected leaders will be further weakened.

Part of the disturbing reality is that there are leaders in APC who unfortunately are also fascinated by politics of ethnic hatred, partly because it has become a way of demonstrating their disappointment. While, unlike in the case of PDP, those APC leaders and supporters attracted to politics of ethnic hatred may be angry because they are unable to access elective and appointive opportunities in government, especially at federal levels, to the extent that there are APC leaders and supporters who accuse APC and President Muhammadu Buhari’s of ‘imposition of Fulani hegemony on Nigerians,’ is indicative of the vulnerability of APC to ultra-right-wing politics. There are many leaders of the APC, who on account of not being appointed into any position in government are angry with President Buhari. On the other hand, there are also supporters of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led-NWC who are unable to reconcile themselves with the decision of APC NEC of June 25, 2020 to dissolve the NWC. All these create some unhealthy internal dynamics within the APC, which contribute to weakening the capacity of the party to appropriately respond and correct all the false narratives against the APC and President Buhari.

A major issue, which should unite all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic, religious, political and all other differences, is the issue of insecurity in the country. Recognising that the issue of insecurity remains a major national challenge, it is important that efforts to critically engage government to address the challenges should not be politicised. Where the government get it right, it should be acknowledged. Given that the APC administration is taking steps to equip the security agencies and build morale, promote community-led solutions, develop new security infrastructure and operations across land and maritime environments, and address the underlying drivers of insecurity (poverty and youth unemployment), require some acknowledgement especially given that under 16 years of PDP, these were never the case. No doubt, serious challenges still exist, but acknowledging victories and successes recorded in fighting insecurity is a critical indicator of the commitment of any political party towards addressing all the challenges of insecurity facing Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Narrow Politics And Questions Of Democratic Development

Therefore, commitment of political parties towards strengthening the current security structure in the country through radical reforms should not be subject of speculation. Issues of amending the laws to enable state governments to establish state police for instance, should clearly be outlined in the party’s manifesto and other campaign documents. To the extent that none of these featured in the PDP Convention is indicative of PDP’s lack of commitment to change its approach to politics. If anything, PDP is only interested in getting back to power to continue its extravagant governance style, which converts the public treasury to private accounts of elected and appointed leaders. In other words, because PDP failed to address all these issues at the October 30 National Convention, the party and its leaders lost a golden opportunity to demonstrate to Nigerians that they are indeed a reformed party capable of resolving the problems of the country, which they have either created or were unable to effectively address during their 16 years rule between 1999 and 2015.

This reality presents a good opportunity for APC and its leaders to demonstrate readiness to continue to manage the affairs of the country. Being a party founded through negotiations, more than anytime, the commitment of leaders and members of the party to negotiate the support of Nigerians is being called to question once more. The capacity of APC leaders and members to honestly respond to national challenges is being contested. The ability to apply knowledge to effectively mobilise Nigerians to endorse or support initiatives of APC and its government towards resolving national security challenges, is now being handled very defensively. Coordination among many leaders of the party in making public statements is weak. To a large extent, this account for the illogical and defensive approach by some senior officials of the Federal Government to attempt to argue that bandits operating in the North-West are not terrorists. With proper coordination in communicating initiatives of government, the explanation of the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Bashir Magashi to the effect that the procedure to declare bandits as terrorists is yet to be completed would have guided all official communications on the matter.

As APC prepares for its National Convention, issues of the unity of the country and responses to national security challenges should be priorities. Just like the election of leaders, how APC wants to continue with the task of responding to challenges of insecurity should be part of the agenda of the APC National Convention based on which a decision is taken at the convention by way of adopting an amendment to the party’s manifesto through majority votes by delegates. Once that is done, it will assist the APC, its leaders and especially candidates for 2023 elections to mobilise Nigerians to vote the party. At the same time, it will potentially prepare the party to be capable of neutralising PDP’s toxic politics of promoting hatred with the high probability that it can produce ultra-right-wing candidates for 2023 elections.

As much as it should be recognised that PDP was able to open itself to negotiation leading to the emergence of new leadership, to the extent that it failed to take advantage of the National Convention to simulate some internal negotiation within the party about how challenges facing the country should be responded to by a PDP government suggest the babsence of any commitment to work for a new Nigeria. May be as part of the efforts by the new PDP leadership to start a new beginning, they will initiate new processes of negotiating these issues. If that is to be the case, it will be necessary that the new PDP leaders take their bearing by taking responsibility in terms of honestly accepting their errors when they had the opportunity to rule Nigeria between 1999 and 2015. Anything short of that will expose the PDP and its leaders as being dishonest.

APC must therefore use its National Convention to demonstrate its commitment to change Nigeria. Apart from electing leaders, the manifesto of the party should be subjected to amendment debate. As part of the commitment to change Nigerian politics, APC must unambiguously commit itself to the unity of Nigeria based on governance initiatives founded on the principles of fairness and equitable access to resources and opportunities by all Nigerians from every part of the country. In addition, APC must commit itself to developing the productive potential of every Nigerian and every part of the country. The issue of national development must be oriented based on clear strategies to develop the economy of every part of the country. Issues of industrialisation, human capital development through correspondingly aggressively high public and private investment in education and health sectors of the country must be prioritised. This should mean that the commitment of political leaders to issues of development planning must be strengthened, and the Nigeria public service must be appropriately reformed and rebuilt to manage initiatives for national development.

Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Abuja. But this position does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors Forum.


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Toyin Falola And The October Harvest



Prof. Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti .Photo by ‘Gbile Oshadipe (2023) ©

By Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti

In the annals of academic and societal change, few luminaries shine as brightly as Professor Toyin Falola. As autumn leaves drifted in October, the literary world was astir from the changing seasons and the relentless enthusiasm of a septuagenarian scholar making waves across lecture halls and public platforms. In many cultures and traditions, October is a month of harvest – a time to reap the fruits of labour sown in prior months. Fittingly, for Professor Falola, this October truly lived up to that essence, bearing witness to an intellectual harvest that few could parallel.

Prof. Toyin Falola at the second  Distinguished Lecture Series of the Department of History & International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria on August 10, 2022. Photo by “Gbile Oshadipe (2022) ©

In many ways, the achievements of this month were a microcosm of Falola’s broader career: a testament to the confluence of hard work, passion, and a deep-seated commitment to societal advancement.

Within 31 days, Falola graced the podium for 3 public lectures, imparted wisdom in 2 university lectures, and was the beacon of 3 convocation lectures. Each of these engagements wasn’t just about sharing knowledge; they were conduits for sparking change, challenging established norms, and inspiring the next generation. However, to truly grasp the magnitude of Falola’s October endeavours, one must delve deeper into the essence of the man himself. At an age when many of his peers are retreating into the tranquillity of retirement, Falola’s spirit remains undiminished, if not encouraged. It’s not just the number of lectures or the honorary doctorates he received – which, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat – but the zeal with which he approaches each endeavour. His lectures, for instance, are not mere recitations of historical facts or academic theories. They are vibrant tapestries woven with threads of history, contemporary societal issues, and a vision for a brighter future. They challenge, they provoke, and most importantly, they inspire. But what drives a man of over 70 years to such relentless pursuit? To find the answer, one need not look further than his past works and the themes that permeate them. For Falola, academia isn’t a secluded ivory tower but a platform to engage with the real world. His research, extensive and varied as it is, always circles back to the core of societal problems. From the intricacies of Yoruba history to the broader strokes of African colonial and post-colonial narratives, Falola’s work sheds light on the issues that matter. These are issues that, in many ways, continue to shape societies today.

In this context, October wasn’t just another month in the calendar but a manifestation of Falola’s lifelong commitment to societal change. A promise that has seen him transcend the traditional confines of academia to engage with the broader public. His public lectures resonate with many audiences, often interspersed with anecdotes, real-life examples, and a touch of humour. From the eager university student to the curious layman, Falola’s words strike a chord, reminding everyone of the transformative power of knowledge and its role in sculpting a better future. In delving deeper into the man behind the October Harvest, one quickly realizes that Professor Falola’s achievements are not a product of overnight success but the culmination of decades of unwavering dedication. It’s a journey that’s seen him navigate the tumultuous waters of academia, societal challenges, and personal hurdles, emerging each time with a renewed sense of purpose. More than anything, this tenacity has been the cornerstone of his October endeavours and his broader career. One might wonder, what is the essence of these lectures and engagements? Why do they matter? The answer lies in the content and context of each meeting. Take, for instance, one of his public lectures from October. While the topic might have revolved around historical narratives, Falola deftly intertwined it with contemporary issues, drawing parallels and highlighting lessons. His ability to bridge the past with the present, to draw lessons from history and apply them to current challenges, is what sets him apart. In doing so, he educates and empowers his audience to view issues through a multifaceted lens, promoting critical thinking and proactive engagement.

Moreover, the venues of these lectures—from universities to public platforms—underscore his commitment to inclusive education. Universities, the traditional bastions of knowledge, are just one part of the equation for Falola. By stepping out and engaging with the broader public, he’s democratizing knowledge, making it accessible to all, irrespective of their academic or socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a move that challenges the status quo, emphasizing that learning shouldn’t be confined to ivory towers but should permeate every stratum of society. However, it’s not just the lectures that stood out in October. The two honorary doctorates he received are symbolic of his contributions to academia and society at large. Such accolades, while celebratory, are also reflective. They compel us to examine the body of work that merits such recognition. For Falola, it’s a vast tapestry of research, publications, mentorship, and public engagement. Each strand, be it a book, an article, or a lecture, is imbued with a purpose: to enlighten, challenge, and change. Yet, amidst all the accolades and achievements, what’s truly remarkable is Falola’s humility. Interact with him, and you’re not met with the airs of a celebrated academician but the warmth of a mentor, the curiosity of a lifelong learner, and the passion of a societal changemaker. This unique blend of excellence and humility makes his October Harvest not just an academic feat but a life lesson for many. It serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t just about personal milestones but about the impact one leaves on society and the legacy one creates for future generations.

Reflecting on the October Harvest and the man at its epicentre, we must contextualize Professor Falola’s achievements within a broader societal framework. At a time when the world grapples with myriad challenges – from socio-political upheavals to environmental crises – the role of intellectuals and academicians becomes ever more crucial. And Falola, with his October engagements and lifelong commitment, epitomizes the potential of scholarly intervention in driving societal change. But why is this important? In an era dominated by bite-sized information and fleeting trends, the depth and breadth of academic research provide a counterbalance. Falola’s lectures, rich in historical context and analytical depth, offer a respite from the cacophony of superficial narratives. They remind us of the importance of understanding the past to navigate the present and shape the future. Every lecture and engagement is a clarion call for introspection, urging society to delve deeper, question more, and strive for a holistic understanding. This is not to say that academia is the sole bastion of truth or the only path to societal change. But scholars like Falola, who bridge the gap between the academic and public spheres, play a pivotal role in grounding discussions in research, evidence, and historical context. They serve as beacons, illuminating the path forward with the torch of knowledge.

Furthermore, Falola’s October engagements underscore the timeless essence of commitment and passion. His journey is a testament to perseverance, dedication, and lifelong learning in a world that often prioritizes instant gratification. It’s a narrative that resonates beyond the confines of academia, inspiring professionals, creatives, and changemakers across various fields. The underlying message? Age is but a number; passion and commitment are timeless. As we draw the curtains on the October Harvest, carrying forward the lessons it offers is essential. It’s a month that celebrates Professor Falola’s achievements, the ethos of scholarly engagement, and its potential impact on society. It’s a call to action for scholars, students, and the general public to engage, question, learn, and drive change.

In conclusion, Professor Toyin Falola’s October Harvest is more than a chronicle of a month’s achievements. It’s a celebration of a lifetime of dedication, a tribute to the transformative power of knowledge, and a reminder of the potential each one of us holds. As the leaves of October give way to the chill of November, the echoes of Falola’s lectures, the wisdom of his words, and the passion of his commitment continue to inspire, urging us all to sow the seeds of change, knowledge, and progress. For in every seed lies the promise of a harvest, and in every effort, the potential for impact.

Prof. Adeoti wrote from  the Department of History & International Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria.


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Keep Witchcraft Accusations Out Of Politics In Sychelles



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the government of Sychelles to keep charges linked to witchcraft beliefs out of politics in the country because they make no legal and political sense. This call became necessary following a report that the country’s main opposition leader, Peter Herminie has been charged with witchcraft. Charged with witchcraft in this 21st century? He was accused along with seven other persons including a Tanzanian. According to the report, Herminie and other persons have been charged with “possessing items intended for use in witchcraft, conspiracy to perform witchcraft and procuring services related to witchcraft”. It was stated that the name of this key politician was allegedly mentioned in a whatsapp message between a local and the person from Tanzania, who was arrested at the main international airport on September 21, 2023. The report says that “Items related to witchcraft, including stones, black wooden artefacts, small bottles of brownish liquid, a collection of powders, and documents with strange language and “demonic and satanic” symbols” were found in the possession of this Tanzanian.

State prosecutors are of the notion that the documents might be some vandalised materials from the local churches. Mr. Herminie has denied the charges, and dismissed the allegation that items linked to witchcraft including bones, body parts, and objects associated with Christianity” were found in his office or in his possession.

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is asking the government of Sychelles to drop these charges, because they are absurd and constitute a show of shame and embarrassment. The prosecution of Herminie and other co-accused is witch hunting in both literal and political sense. And witch hunting should has no place in 21st century politics in Sychelles.

Otherwise, how does the government define witchcraft or witchcraft items? How does the government distinguish witchcraft items, whatever that means, from traditional religious objects? How did the prosecutors know that the said items were intended for use in witchcraft? Are stones, black wooden artefacts, and small bottles of brownish liquid witchcraft materials? I mean how will state prosecutors establish that some symbols are demonic and satanic?

Has the government the facility or expertise to prove beyond reasonable doubt what is witchcraft and what is not witchcraft, what is demonic or satanic and what is not? How will the government prosecute this case without flagrantly violating the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief? At a time of growing cases of witch persecution in many parts of Africa, the government of Sychelles should discontinue this unfortunate and unwarranted instance of witch hunting.


Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.

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Nigerian Elections: A Democracy In The Hands Of A Judiciary 



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

To run for an election in Nigeria, as you raise the money you need, now in billions of naira, remember one thing: divide the money into two—one for the elections and the other for legal matters. If you win, the loser will take you to court. If you lose, take the winner to court. If the winner had the money for the election and no money for the legal matters, his fortune would be reversed. Three sets of people now decide for us: the voters, the lawyers, and the judges. Democracy is no longer solely about the legitimacy of votes but also the legality of how those votes are obtained and counted. Legality is now above legitimacy. Please allow me to explain.

The history of elections in Nigeria has always been of interest, but that of its aftermaths creates crescendos of the former, far more important sometimes and far more disappointing most times. In several instances, a party’s candidate would be elected with some level of presumed or deductible public support, and when the lens or the “VAR” of the judiciary looks at it, the people’s results get dashed. Sometimes, the supposed winner could be one that does not have the people’s approval, and after much process of vetting, the judiciary installs who they want or think to have fulfilled the law the most. Some other times, there is not much difference.

The roles of the judiciary in pre- and post-election matters will never stop to beg the question of what should be held supreme: legality or legitimacy. Of course, both the two concepts semantically cross each other’s borders, but to what extent should the extremes of each be tolerated? What should decide legitimacy? Is it the quantum of legal compliance and due processes or the invested aggregated public interests? And should election results be held within the bustles of Electoral Acts, Constitutional Provisions, Court Rules, Practice Directions, and other legal reality checks? This dilemma has been a perennial occurrence and has severally and severely brought the people to some antagonistic vantage points, pitted  against the Milord’s Temples of Justice.

For instance, it is close to a month since the results of the petition at the Court of Appeal against the supposed victory of the APC at the 2023 Nigerian elections, and the people of Nigeria are nowhere near satisfied. It is incredible how a country with a unique history of repeated final determination of election results at the courts, as opposed to the polls, still keeps getting it wrong. The situation is evidence that the people take the judiciary as a betting house and take the chaos of doubts to its temple, as this has run throughout the history of Nigerian democracy.

Take also, for instance, the notorious case of the 2019 Imo State Gubernatorial elections, where the Supreme Court annulled the victory of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, and installed the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma as governor; a candidate who did not just lose to Ihedioha in the initial race but finished a distant fourth position and the reaction of the people to the situation. What about the Adeleke election saga in Osun State in recent history? This, however, seems to be an accepted decision by the people because of the supposed popularity of the candidate and the finesse of his dancing steps.

Another very controversial case was the court’s decision in the Bayelsa State elections, where the Supreme Court also annulled the victory of the winner of the elections because it was discovered that his running mate had presented some fake documents. He was, therefore, disqualified, and his opponent was installed as governor.

This history of judicial intervention in elections is no short one. Since the petition originating from the election between Shehu Shagari and Obafemi Awolowo in 1979, Nigerians have had to severally vest their hopes in the judiciary and watch as they act as umpires in matters that are originally designed to be settled by public vote.

There is a cross-road between legality that informs the court’s decision to the extent that irregularity would amount to fundamental decisions that would affect the fate of the people and aid an illegitimate and unpopular government. The people would then be left to struggle with a largely unwanted government or such that could not be ascertained to have won the popular confidence of the generality of the electorate. The court is the home of determining matters based on some objective parameters, explaining why laws are set to guide every matter brought before the court.

From history, it is quite clear that many decisions made on election and election-related matters are either won or dismissed based on irregularities, technicalities, and procedural errors that would deny justice on substantive matters. Of what benefit would a suit that was dismissed based on its lack of conformity with an established form or because it was instituted by a writ of summons rather than being brought by way of a petition? When a matter is determined based on this and other preliminary fulfillments or procedures, the substance, which goes to the root of the legitimacy and desires of the people, is buried or forgotten.

The Constitution and the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules have established that fundamental rights issues should not be discountenanced based on mere irregularities and that as sui generis issues, the standard of expectation should be brought lower compared to other matters before any court. Fundamental rights issues in Nigeria can be brought before the State High Court, Federal High Court, or National Industrial Court. It could also be brought by any means, making it quite easy for a person whose right has been trampled upon to seek justice.

But is a fraudulent election and mandates conferred on people unjustly not worth the similar care given to human rights issues? Where legality and procedures are reconsidered on cases from Chapter IV of the constitution, how many more issues are traced back to legitimacy, the people’s future, and the nation’s progressive projections? Isn’t an election fraud injustice to the generality of people and a collective breach of the collective rights of the people?  

The consequence of elections to the sociopolitical consciousness of a people must not be taken lightly. Not just because elections are the system through which the next leader of a democratic nation is decided but because that system is in and of itself the embodiment or the defining expression of the democratic soul of the society. The iconic 16th president of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, famously defined Democracy as the “rule of the people, by the people and for the people”; a concise yet comprehensive capturing of the essence of the ideology. 

No society can claim to be democratic in principle without having its people come together to decide who its leaders are. Because those elected are not just “leaders,” but in a more honest sense, are representatives of the people. And since they are representatives of the people, it would be an undeniable logical inconsistency, as well as a great political absurdity, if the people’s will were to be ignored in the selection of their next leader, no matter how legal, constitutional or judicially viable, that process of selection is. It is this understanding that should primarily guide the decision-making of the judiciary that elections are an expression of the will of the people, and so in their decisions, their foremost objective must be the protection and enforcement of that will.

When you see that the entire nation is not only interested but has a stake in the matter, one would expect that the judiciary takes a decision that is the most accurate reflection of the will of the people. Instead, we saw the judiciary dismissing what seemed to be worthy petitions because one preliminary matter was not filed or one issue arising from the whole pool of matters was supposed to be decided by another court. This system and mentality is an outright mockery of the people’s desires. They ignore important, weighty arguments on the grounds of minor, less significant matters of procedure, sacrificing Justice on the altar of technicalities.

My question to the Justices who sacrificed justice for technicality is this: was the law made for man, or man made for the law? The obvious answer to this question is a foundational concept of law, which ought to guide their reasoning. Law is very important to ensuring order and progress in society. But when that law is exalted at the expense of the best interests of the men it was created to serve, then that law is pointless and nothing more than a stumbling block to the progress of society. Law is good because it ensures legality. But man is ultimate because it is man that gives legitimacy. Legitimacy to other men, legitimacy to a government, and legitimacy to even the law itself. So, to all those who view the judiciary’s actions through the mediocre lens of legality, here is a better question: it may be legal, but is it legitimate? Do not get me wrong; I do not mean that the law should be thrown into the winds and disregarded at every instance; of course, “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands,” and “he who wants equity must do equity.” However, there should be a relaxed line so as not to run into the dangers of positivism.

The court must be able to see that what is more important at every point before making its decisions is the importance of legitimacy and popularity. The political and social consequences decisions of the court can cause. This is because every institution is established in the back of the people, and since people are the law themselves, the law should never be clogged to their wheel. The law should be for the men and not men for the law. 

When questions like this are taken more seriously, we will begin to see changes in this country. Our democratic institutions need to be recalibrated and strengthened. Judicial recourse is useful, but when it becomes repeated, it insults and nullifies the point of the precious will of the people. Going forward, we must ensure that we fight to protect that will. All involved from the government to INEC, to the courts, must do better. To close, the preamble of the Nigerian constitution opens with “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…Do hereby make, enact, and give to ourselves the following constitution”. If it is we, the people, who give ourselves the law, then it must be we, the people, who give ourselves our government. We must defend that right, always.


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