After “Wike-leak”, What Next?, By Ahmed Oluwasanjo

The media should be lauded for its nice job on this “Wike-leak”. The leaked tape, however, would end up as useless – almost as usual – if Wike and his partners in INEC are not investigated and prosecuted.

A leaked audio tape revealing how the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and his foot soldiers bribed Independence National Electoral Commission officials to rig the recently concluded rerun elections in Rivers State, should not come to many Nigerians as a surprise.

It is not a completely unfamiliar story.

In the leaked tape, Wike exposed the bloodlusting and ruthless megalomaniac in him, threatening to “kill” an INEC official who collected his money and was not cooperating with his foot soldiers.

Listening to Wike’s threat to the life of an INEC official reveals how brutish and nasty an average Nigerian politician is when it comes to the scramble for power. Regardless of their party differences, the ruthless and bloodlusting animal in an average Nigerian politician goes berserk while seeking power at all cost during elections.

If only we could have access to the telephone conversations of Wike’s contemporaries in other parties, we would have a clue of how bestial they are. It’s not all about Wike, the monster. There are deadlier Wikes hibernating in our polity, disguising as decent citizens.

While the ones in the All Progressive Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party are motivated by their sheer lust for power, their accomplices in INEC are motivated by the crumbs they get from thwarting the system in the interest of their pay masters.

So, that the leaked tape exposed the concerted effort between Wike’s team and some INEC officials to rig election should elicit some questions. One, who were the INEC officials who took these bribes and cooperated with Wike? Two, who, in particular, was the INEC official posted to Khanah, Rivers State, that took a bribe from Wike and became uncooperative?

And more importantly, are INEC officials supposed to take any gift from politicians before, after or while conducting election? This, perhaps, is the main reason elections are won before polls as many electoral umpires are shameless “cash and carry” hustlers.

While we may not be able to fully curtail the unholy alliance between politicians and INEC officials, it is however more alarming to watch election riggers escape the wrath of the law when their clandestine rackets are exposed, like we have seen in the past.

It is not enough for security agencies to investigate the issue just to prepare the usual white, black or red paper reports that would eventually end up in trash cans.

Before now, Captain Sagir Koli, a brave army officer, leaked a plot on how Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti State governor, and his collaborators, Senator Iyiola Omisore; Jelili Adesiyan, then Minister of Police Affairs; Musiliu Obanikoro, former State Minister of Defense; and some military officers, planned and rigged the Ekiti State gubernatorial election in 2014. Whether the perpetrators of the Ekitigate election scandal would ever be brought to book is still uncertain as I write.

Get me right. I know that Fayose, the chief plotter of the alleged rigging, is covered by immunity as a governor. But, are his collaborators covered by any immunity? As I write, Dr. Tope Aluko, the former Ekiti State PDP secretary, who brazenly confessed to how the poll’s rigging was masterminded on Channels Television is still walking freely. Isn’t it surprising?

Countries where elections are free, fair, and peaceful are not inhabited by saints. However, they have, over time, developed a system that strictly penalises culprits of electoral fraud. As a result, politicians and electoral officials who are hell-bent on rigging face the consequences of their malfeasance whenever they are caught.

In 2010, five men, including two former Councilors, were sentenced to jail for electoral malpractices in the UK, as the UK Guardian reported. In 2010, Guinean electoral commission head, Ben-Sekou Sylla, and his head of planning officer, El Hadj Boubacar Diallo were both sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for electoral fraud in the first round of Guinea’s presidential election.

If there is any lesson for Nigeria in these examples, it is that, our system must begin to punish culprits of electoral fraud to serve as deterrent to potential election riggers.

We cannot continue to threat cases of election rigging with kid gloves and expect that desperate politicians, their foot soldiers and accomplices in the INEC would one day have a change of heart.

It is not enough for security agencies to investigate the issue just to prepare the usual white, black or red paper reports that would eventually end up in trash cans.

The media should be lauded for its nice job on this “Wike-leak”. The leaked tape, however, would end up as useless – almost as usual – if Wike and his partners in INEC are not investigated and prosecuted.

After “Wike-leak”, what is next?

Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja.

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