I Resisted Pressures To Rig Kwara Election – Kwara INEC Resident

Garba Attahiru Madami, the Resident Electoral Commissioner ( REC)
of Kwara State in the recently concluded election in this meeting talked on the difficulties looked by him and his staff in the state and different issues. TONY EZIMAKOR brings the portions:
I Resisted Pressures To Rig Kwara Election Kwara INEC Resident
How would you assess the conduct of the general elections in Kwara State?
As far as I’m concerned, it went very well in Kwara . First I must commend the police, they did a wonderful job. Second the people of Kwara, the voters , they conducted themselves very well. And  the political parties too. I must give them credit. And on the part of INEC, we are neutral, we are impartial. So, all went well. INEC, the people, political parties and the police did what they should do.
It is unusual for the election umpire to commend political parties especially given the glaring desperation of political parties and individuals to win.
Yeah, they were. But in Kwara, may be because of the antecedent of my earlier election;  the by- election we had on November 17 in  Ado, Ekiti, Ikaro, lrepodun and Isin .  That election gave political parties confidence that I was going to give them a level playing field, and that transcended to the high level of trust between the political parties and INEC. And they saw what I did in reshuffling Electoral Officers EOs and Assistant Electoral Officers AEOs. They also saw I wasn’t ready to compromise my integrity. They saw that I was ready to hand over anybody, including my staff  to the police.  The security agencies also cooperated 100% because I told them that as far as INEC Kwara is concerned, we are neutral, we are impartial. And that  we expected them to be neutral and impartial, to do their job professionally and be peaceful. In Kwara we had a peaceful atmosphere because the security men were impartial and professional. The political parties believed in INEC to do the right thing and I kept telling them about the neutrality of the security agencies.
The supporters, the electorate believed in me and it was easier for people to conduct themselves well. We also had a lot of voter education in Kwara; on radio, TV and myself personally, I went to mosques, to Churches. I went to radio and TV interviews, assuring them, telling them that when I was sworn in as REC, I swore to holy Quran and therefore, that I was going to do what God asked me to do. And I told them that I belong to nobody in Kwara. I belong to only God and the people of Kwara and so was answerable to them.
Given what transpired before the presidential and national assembly elections, are you saying that you never came under any sort of pressures from individuals and interests in and out of government, who may want to have the election go one way or the other ?
There were pressures; I cannot tell you that there were no pressures. But I know myself and I know that I have the capacity to resist any kind of pressures having worked nationally and internationally, knowing how Nigeria is. You see, in life if people know you are principled, they will test you. And when they test you and find you’re very, very principled, that you’re a man of conscience, that  you have integrity and you want to protect it, they will leave you alone. In Nigeria we know the thieves , we know the corrupt people and the people that are straightforward. When they test you and discover they cannot shake you or move to break your integrity, they will leave you. And that was just happened.  I cannot tell you that I was not under any pressures, to put it that way, I was! And I kept resisting, because I am a man of courage, I am principled. I know what I want out of life. Integrity is better than money, for me that is the bottom line. And today ask the Kwarans; majority of People in Kwara are happy with the  outcome of the election because their votes counted.
What kind of pressure did you face and from whom?
I won’t answer that but like I said, there were pressures, from Nigerians.
In some of units where the Senate president was to be returned, what kind of pressure did you face in such units ?
I told you. I resisted all the pressure and I’m even ready to resist more pressure . To me there was no pressure I was just doing my job. A job for this country as a patriotic Nigerian, and job for the God that I serve because I have a conscience. A job for the people of Kwara to vote for their choice leaders.
Before the election there the APC made it clear it was  going to stop Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President from returning to his position. You want to tell the world that the administration did not put pressure on you to achieve those stated  desire?

Never! And let me tell you, when I was nominated as REC, I never wanted to work for any government politically. Because one of the conditions I gave to accept the job was that I don’t want interference from government or anybody because I will say no! I’m a man of conscience, if that is what they wanted, I will just resign and leave. I never looked for the job, I never applied for the job, I never lobbied for the job. But the government saw the qualities in me to do this job. When the nomination came, there were a lot of pressures from my people, community, friends to accept the job. I never wanted to accept the job. It was my wife that made me to accept this job. When I was adamant, she felt it was job appointed by God and  posed these questions to me. She asked me : Did you apply for the job, I said no. Two, she asked : Did you ask somebody to help you get the job, I said no. She said God uses people to work, that for them to have identified me , it means I have a special quality and that quality is integrity. She said “Everybody says you are a man of integrity, of courage, a man of conscience. You’re honest and sincere. Go and prove to Nigeria that we still have true Nigerians that have integrity”. Her last comment was, “My love, take this job, test your integrity. God that has given you this opportunity will give the wisdom, the knowledge, the technical ability to do it and you will run it successfully” . Those comments by my wife, Charity  Dooshima Garba moved me to accept this job and I have no regrets. I love the challenge. And I told Kwarans that I’m not discriminatory; I do not look at whether you’re rich or poor. Before God we are the same. That is one. Two I don’t look at people because of religion. My wife is a Christian, I am a Muslim. She is Tiv, from Benue . I’m Gbagyi from Niger and we are married for 38 years with three beautiful angels. So tell me., will I Garba discriminate, no . If you look at  my background,  the embodiment of Garba Attahiru Madami,.you will know the kind of person I’m . But I don’t want to sound immodest. God has helped a lot because if you are sincere with what you are doing, God will be happy.
So what was your aim in the election you conducted?

My aim was to see the electorates happy, excited that their votes counted and that INEC is transparently neutral. They should believe in INEC and that we have people of integrity, of sincerity in this country. That Nigeria can be great and will be great, that is my joy.


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