How Adamawa Nearly Took Us Back To 1983

By Andrew Agbese

What happened in Adamawa State on Sunday, where results of the governorship elections were declared and a winner announced midway into collation of results can only be compared to what happened in the 1983 governorship elections across the states.

The year 1983 was perhaps one of the worst in terms of election manipulations where the ruling party at the center, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), was accused of using federal might to employ all kinds of tactics to kneecap the other political parties.

Using both known and unconventional methods, the NPN penetrated the East and West zones which in 1979 were the exclusive forte of the NPP and UPN. The few states in the North which other opposition parties like the GNPP and PRP secured were also fair game.

The NPN which won only six out of the then 19 states in 1979 had by 1983 collected six more states giving it 12 governors while leaving the other five political parties with only seven states!

The only states where it couldn’t penetrate were Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Ogun, Ondo and Imo which proved impregnable for the rampaging NPN.

It was a tough battle in Ondo where the NPN candidate, Chief Akin Omoboriowo was declared winner before the courts later upturned it.

This was after the NPN went for the GNPP controlled states of Borno and Gongola which comprised the current four states of Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Adamawa and captured the two states for the NPN.

It then went to Kaduna which included the current Katsina State after first of all removing the PRP strong man, Balarabe Musa as governor and consolidated on the onslaught to sack the PRP from governance in that state.

Not done with that, it decided to move in to Nnamdi Azikiwe’s turf in what is now known as the South-east and collected Anambra State, which comprised the current Anambra, Enugu and parts of Ebonyi states leaving the old man with only Imo state.

One would have thought that the NPN would be satisfied with that, but its ambition as Shakespeare would say, was made of sterner stuff and it went for the kill in the most guarded turf of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and dislodged Bola Ige as governor of Oyo State but had a tough time trying to eject Chief Michael Ajasin from Ondo.

In Bendel State which comprised the current Edo and Delta states, UPN’s Ambrose Ali was also shown the red card by the NPN candidate, Samuel Ogbemudia.

The formula used by the NPN then was similar to the template used in Adamawa on Sunday where the trick was to rush to the media, especially the radio stations which were very powerful then, to announce results and once that is done , it is upheld by the electoral umpire until upturned by the courts.

In 1983, when then deputy governor of Ondo State, Akin Omoboriowo, contested against his boss, Chief Ajasin, and the results were announced in his favour, he was so recognized until the courts reversed the decision.

Luckily, the court processes were concluded before the swearing in date of October 1 so old man Ajasin did not have to worry about battling for his seat from outside Government House.

But it was not so for Jim Nwobodo in the old Anambra State and others who couldn’t convince the courts they were rigged out and the winners continued as governors until the millitay came calling in December of that year.

Luckily the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had waded in the Adamawa matter asking the public to disregard the announcement made by the Resident Electoral Commissioner which gave victory to the APC candidate, Aisha Dahiru Binani.

The INEC described the action of the REC as a usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer saying the declaration is “null, void and of no effect.”

With the benefit of hindsight, one can only conclude that the plot was to use the 1983 template while hoping that Section 149 of the Electoral Act 2022, which stipulates that, ” Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Act, any defect or error arising from any actions taken by an official of the Commission in relation to any notice, form or document made or given or other things done by the official in pursuance of the provisions of the Constitution or of this Act, or any rules made thereunder remain valid, unless otherwise challenged and declared invalid by a competent court of law or tribunal,” may apply.

But this does not seem likely as the INEC has taken similar decisions in the current elections reversing an earlier declaration it made in respect of an election.

In the Doguwa/Tudun Wada Federal Constituency of Kano State where the majority leader of the House of Representatives, Ado Doguwa, was initially declared winner, INEC reversed itself and ordered a supplementary election as the results were said to have been declared under duress.

It is left to be seen what would come out of the decision by INEC to suspend the supplementary elections in Adamawa State.

Adadainfo is an online newspaper reporting Nigerian news. Email: Phone: 08071790941

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