Nigerians are reportedly waiting with baited breath for
Thursday's Supreme Court decision on the validity of the election which led to
President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's victory. Both local and
international observers describe last April's election as flawed and failing to
meet international standards.
Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) declared presidential candidate Umaru
Yar'Adua of the incumbent People's Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the
controversial vote with a landslide win of more than 70 percent of the vote.
But opposition parties dismissed the election as a sham and called for a rerun.
Former Vice President Atiku
Abubakar and ex-head of state Mohammadu Buhari petitioned the Court,
effectively challenging President Yar'Adua's victory. University of Abuja
political science professor Kabiru Mato tells reporter Peter Clottey from
Nigeria's capital that today's Supreme Court's decision could determine the
"I think Nigerians today are
expecting a very important decision to be taken by judiciary, which is seen as
the last man in defense. The decision of the Supreme Court today would go a
long way in determining the direction, which future Nigeria elections are going
to be like. It is high time that somebody high up there is able to really stand
firm and tell those people who hold state power to their selfish advantage
that, look, you cannot continue to have it the way you want it to be," Mato
He said both local and
international observers of last April's general elections condemned it as
"The election of course has
been very, very contested, and Nigerians are still saying it was below standard
and also that is the record that is in the international community. So for us
to regain our respect as citizens, it would be paramount the judiciary is able
to give a ruling that would convince millions of Nigerians that after all we
have an impartial umpire," he said.
Mato said there would be
mixed reaction, whichever way the decision of the Supreme Court goes.
"The reaction would be of
different varieties and different degrees. But what I'm saying in essence is
that I think it has gone far beyond that. If the court would finally affirm the
election, it must be able to advance very cogent and convincing reasons why
Nigerians should accept such a ruling against of course popular will," Mato
He said there seems to be a
downside to the western judicial way of doing things.
"The tragedy of the western
legal system is that it doesn't necessarily carry along the truth of the
matter. But you have what is referred to as the burden of proof. So this burden
of proof really puts down a lot of disadvantaged individuals, groups and
nations and the principles of perhaps our political doom. So it is not
necessarily the best there is out there," he said.
Mato said there is need to
ensure that the tenets of democracy are entrenched into the body politic in
Nigeria's internal political dynamics.
"One of the things I think
we as Nigerians and Africans and members of the global community should try to
do is that we ensure that we build very cogent political structures. Cogent
political structures that would be able to outlive us as individuals. And that
is the only way we can live sufficient positive legacies for our children. When
we lay an enabling environment that would ensure a free political environment,
I think would help us a lot," Mato pointed out.
He said although Nigeria
could be plunged into a possible instability if the court annuls the
presidential elections today, the country would still move on.
are going to be in a political turmoil because there would be a lot of opposing
candidates who would come out wanting to change the president even within his
own ruling PDP. Now, one of the greatest actions is actually the public opinion
court," he said.
may have to wait longer for a judicial resolution, as the Supreme Court has not
a given specific indication whether it would pronounce a judgment today or
merely assign a new date for a judgment.