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    SPEECH BY OGBENI LANRE BANJO
    OGUN STATE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE
    OF
    THE NATIONAL CONSCIENCE PARTY

    ON TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2003

    [ Send Email To Banjo ]

    Gentlemen of the Press

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    My colleagues in the struggle

    I thank all of you for honoring my invitation.

    After ruminating over the conducts and results of the House of Representatives, Senatorial, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections, my love for this greatly endowed country compelled me to critique the conducts, which gave birth to impure results, with a view to improving our electioneering process and system despite the noise of hosanna emanating from the society saddled with corruption. It is a pity that those who seek to help the masses of this country resulted to buying their votes and exploited their ignorance. Discerning the result of their effective strategy of buying votes, they would have no choice but to further impoverish the masses for the next four years so as to be able to employ the same strategy again to get the same result. For the few who truly love this country, this is the time to weep and reflect because righteousness exalts the nation, unrighteousness and deceit debases a nation, says the bible. However, weeping and sobering for the calamity that is about to befall Nigeria alone would not do it. It should still behoove those of us who love the country to continue to expose the wickedness of the devils pretending to be Godly for posterity sake. It is for this reason that I enumerate below how elections were rigged on April 12, and 19, 2003.

    SOPHISTICATED WAYS EMPLOYED TO RIG

    1) Rigging before elections

    Shortly before the registration of voters began, our Party under the leadership of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN went to court to stop the commencement of voters registration because the case to register more political parties was still pending at the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen A. Jonah dismissed the case on the ground that voters registration is not to be engaged in by political parties, even though, the Electoral Act required the presence of agents of all political parties in each registration center. Hence, the citizens of Nigeria were at the mercy of the existing political parties mainly the PDP and AD. There commenced riggings since there were no agents of subsequently registered political parties at the registration centers. Fake voters cards were created for use by anyone who wishes to be paid for it.

    This rigging was manifested on the days of both elections when some unfortunate underages were caught trying to vote. Our agents caught one at Sokoya School in GRA Sagamu and many were caught in Ishara. When I arrived at the polling booth in Sagamu, I saw the boy who had already been handed over to police and I queried him. He told me that those who gave him the voters card were across the street. I insisted that the boy should be taken to the police station, amidst crowd, which included the Chairman of AD in Sagamu begging me to allow the boy to go. The police allowed the boy to go. When I asked the police why he allowed the boy to go, he told me that according to the law he takes order from the INEC presiding officer at the polling station and it was he who told him to let the boy loose. I asked the presiding officer, the answer was simple, yes he told the officer to release him because all the boy did was an attempt to vote. With my eyes, I saw people with more than one voters card, which suggested that the rigging began at the registration exercise by both the PDP and AD. Throughout the state, many agents of the PDP and AD had many voters registration cards and where the PDP outnumbered and outplayed the AD and the presiding officer is either a staunch member of the PDP or its sympathizer, the officer would not encourage the police officer in the polling booth to act. Thus many acts in violation of laws were committed with police witnessing them and just because the presiding officer did not ask him to act, he refused to enforce the law. We must ask ourselves, what happens if the presiding officer himself commits an offence, who would enforce the law? The idiosyncrasy in Nigeria is- we will leave them in the hands of God. Unfortunately, God would not come down to solve our problems. Nigerians must learn not to be living by bread alone but to cultivate the culture of resistance for their freedom. That is why some people tie bombs on themselves for freedom. It should be remembered that God did not create Nigeria alone and He would not give preferential treatments to Nigerians.

    RECOMMENDATION

    States should be allowed to register voters continuously in a transparent manner. All political parties and the federal government should have the authority to review such process and investigate any complaints. This would provide a check and balance system where the power is not solely rested with either tier of government unlike today where the PDP, the party in power, is the Almighty Party. The Police should be given power to enforce electoral laws without waiting for the presiding officer. Since the agents of the other political parties are required by law to be present at each polling booth, any witness needed to assist the police would have been readily available.

    2) Rigging during campaign

    The wicked cabals who schemed with ingenuity to rig themselves in power purposely suffered Nigerians by faking fuel shortages so that those of us who have messages to liberate the masses would not be able to go and preach our gospel. Thus, the Obasanjo administration incapacitated and amputated those of us who are not moneybags and struggled to compete with them, apology to the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun. Yet, the PDP and AD candidates had access to fuel. The level playing field was thus not provided. After the presidential and gubernatorial elections, fuel were made available

    Furthermore, while we were busy campaigning through thick and thin, the PDP government replaced the earlier trained ad hoc and presiding officials with party faithful. Most of the agents whose names have been published to work with INEC were replaced with agents that the PDP suggested.

    RECOMMENDATION

    Recommending anything on this finding is tatanmont to advising Judas not to kiss Jesus since that was what he was destined to do. I can only urge these wicked people in power to keep using their Power.

    3) Rigging during elections

    Demonstration of disdainful Corruption to the highest order

    Throughout the nation, INEC officials turned their independent commission to independent business to enrich themselves by bargaining with politicians. The products sold included ballot boxes, voters card and voters list. They turned themselves to prostitutes who sold to all and sundry that has anything to offer, no matter how nominal the offer was. In Sagamu local government for example, our representatives at the INEC office aborted a plan to give two ballot boxes to some politicians. Mrs. Lawal who is the Sagamu local government electoral official claimed that she received a handwritten note sent by a ward supervisor for a change of two bad ballot boxes at the polling unit. Our agents at the INEC office, asked Mrs. Lawal, why were the bad boxes not returned since voting has not begun and which polling station was it? Our agents went to the polling station to find out that no ballot box was broken. This suggested that the INEC official in question has bargained with some corrupt politicians to sell the ballot papers. If this could happen in a city, what then would have happened in villages where other political parties were unable to pay agents? The same thing happened in Akaka, Emuren, Mokoliki, Iperu, Owode, Ishara, etc. In Akaka for example ballot boxes were already filled by 8.30am and our agents have to threaten to break the boxes and the boxes disappeared. If Nigerian government were to be serious about wiping out corruption, it should investigate all the INEC officials to determine what their assets were before joining INEC and their assets as of today. I know that would not happen because they did the bidding of the PDP, the party with Power to perform electoral magic. The Ogun State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ekpeyong Nsa, was shown in newspapers, on OGTV and other television stations solidly behind General Olusegun Obasanjo on the day of presidential and gubernatorial elections. One wonders how independent INEC is from the PDP to make Mr. Nsas staying behind General Obasanjo his business. Also, I personally asked INEC officials in Abeokuta several times for a copy of the list of all the polling stations in Ogun State. The response, no problem sir, it shall be given to you but we have to make a copy. I later asked some of my colleagues in the race who said they bought them and that PDP and AD were already in possession of the list and that I have to bribe.

    RECOMMENDATION

    I observed that various governments in Nigeria cherish impoverishing the governed to firmly lord themselves over the masses. Consequently it would be a cheer waste of time to recommend to the people in government to discontinue. If Nigerians are not made to wallow in abject poverty, all the cross sections of the society should spit at politicians and their agents when they offered them as little as N30 for votes. In Nigeria, I have heard electorates said that they did not know some candidates. I did not understand that until someone told me what it meant was that if a candidate has not given an electorate a penny; such a candidate would be categorized as unknown. The number of votes reported for Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN confirmed this. Would many Nigerians say that they do not know who Chief Fawehinmi is? Therefore, the recommendation here would go to the electorates. One hopes that after untold hardship in the next four years which may include relatives dying miserably on the deathtrap roads and hospitals lacking drugs, closure of schools, increase in unemployment etc., electorates would not vote for money in the future. We definitely do not see how a governor who spent millions to get to power could perform. It is clear that he would spend some time to look for the money he spent to get to the State House and the remaining of his term to look for the funds to be spent in the next elections like Chief Olusegun Osoba did.

    Failure to fairly collate results

    On the April 12 National Assembly elections, we have evidence to prove that some local governments result were not added to the total figure announced.

    RECOMMENDATION

    Chief Olusegun Obasanjo should dissolve this INEC after elections and look for patriotic Nigerians who can work on a better system that would facilitate the collation of results afterall they have rigged him in twice.

    Voided ballot papers

    In Ogun State gubernatorial elections, over thirty seven thousand ballot papers were voided. It was by design to show high rating for the PDP and make other political parties irrelevant. Some of the reasons for this were attributed to the ballot papers, which must be folded before inserting them into ballot boxes, tiny boxes in front of each logo and others.

    RECOMMENDATION

    I recommend that INEC and political parties join together to study why many ballot papers were voided and recommend an improvement before the next election period. INEC should consider ballot paper that would not require folding and could just be dropped into a ballot box. Of course, for that to work, the voting must be secret. All the polling booths that I visited are near buildings and many were in schools. A room should be opened or cubical or curtains erected so that electorates would be able to cast their votes secretly without fear and without the agents of those who pay them for votes verifying if they complied with the agreement.

    The use of money before and on the day of elections

    It was incontestable that while the general saying in Ogun State was that Chief Olusegun Osoba opened the Ogun State treasury, the PDP distributed money to those who voted for the party on the voting line and on the eve of the Election Day in an unholy hour. Osoba neither denied nor confirmed the allegation in an interview but he said that the PDP did the same thing. The blinds felt the buying of votes throughout the nation. On their own, the police witnessed the distribution of money but turned away because they themselves have been paid up. The media owners are equally guilty as they are let loose by the government that monetize politics in Nigeria to suffocate the poor. To interview candidates, some electronic media asked for thousands of Naira. One specifically asked me to pay N350,000, while the government media especially OGTV and OGBC under the claws of Osoba refused to accord level playing field to all the candidates.

    RECOMMENDATION

    I recommend that the government should enforce the laws in the book and review all those laws to see if an amendment is warranted. I would personally view this recommendation as the recommendation of the future as some electorates who demanded money for votes from us have referred to our party as the Party of the future. They demanded money now for future patronage! What a Society!!

    INEC Officials thumb printing for illiterates

    There are allegations here and there that majority of the employees of INEC at the polling booth are PDP members. One could not discount this because our agents had to fight with some INEC employees who exploited the illiteracy of our elders to thumbprint the box in front of the PDP logo. Some police officer saw this but could not arrest the presiding officer since the law empowers the presiding officer to dictate which law to enforce and definitely, no presiding officer would ask that he/she should be arrested.

    RECOMMENDATION

    The lasting solution to this problem is the abolition of poverty, which unfortunately our Party has plans for and the electorates rejected because of money that they have now spent. Definitely, no PDP government, be it at local, state, or federal, could solve this problem since it is their wish that the electorates adore them. The poorer the electorates get, the more Power the PDP has. I recommend that the police be given power to arrest anyone who flouts any electoral law and INEC should come out with policy which shall frown at the act of its employee helping electorates to thumbprint.

    SUMMARY

    WHO TO THANK FOR THE RELATIVE PEACE IN THE COUNTRY?

    Many Nigerians appear to have short memories. Some thanked the impoverishing PDP government for the relative peace in the country so far. I thank God who created Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, followed by the Chief himself, and the three justices of Court of Appeal, Justices Dahiru Musdapher, Muntaka Coomassie and Zainab Bullachukwu. These are the people who deserve credit for this day. The registration of more political parties would not have occurred had Chief Fawehinmi, SAN not led the fight into the courtrooms - from High Court to the Supreme Court.. If more political parties have not been registered, many Nigerians would have killed themselves while fighting to be candidates under the three political parties then registered. With the registration of more political parties, Nigerians were presented with choices to join the political parties they wish.

    REFUSAL TO CONGRATULATE WINNERS

    Congratulating winners of elections who bought votes, bribed INEC officials, and spent money with the intent to recover them by looting the state treasury is tantamount to congratulating the system that produced them. I, Lanre Banjo, would not be seen in the assembly of evil or be an accomplice with evil. The Afenifere made deals and enjoyed being in the assembly of evils using Awolowos good name to deceive the unwary, we see how God allowed PDP to mow them down and disgraced them. I would never be in that position. Ruling or serving is not by do or die for me.

    ELECTION NOT FREE AND FAIR

    When Nigerians shout that these two elections were free and fair, I asked, free and fair from what. No sane Nigerian could boldly say that these two elections were free from monetary inducement to both INEC officials and electorates and free from unfair practices some of which have been enumerated above. If elections are not free from the above listed practices, then it could not be said to be free and fair. Instead of military intervention, however, I would pray that after escalated sufferings for the masses of Nigeria, the electorates would learn and would use their power in the next four years to vote their conscience by voting for programs, honesty, and not for money.

    In conclusion, PDP will definitely scheme to rig itself out in 2007 like it has schemed to send the AD packing. Nigerians must be ready for rough roads in the next four years. This is my prediction. God bless you all.

    Lanre Banjo
    Gubernatorial Candidate, NCP

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