Salihu Tanko Yakasai: 2015 – The election is destined to fail without a fair INEC (Y! Politico)

by Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Tanko Yakasai

In a democracy, the biggest form of crime remains the subversion of the will of people in elections. Jega must get his team ready and avoid being charged for this crime.

It will be an honest assumption to say that about the entire people of Nigeria have battled to repose any confidence in the country’s electoral umpire since the return of democracy in 1999. Perhaps the only ones  that did and still do are the beneficiaries of the ills of this institution that its only core competence is in electoral abracadabra.

INEC together with the ruling party as well as all the national security outfits have consistently shown themselves to be biased continually subverting the will of Nigerians.

In the aftermath of the violence ridden 2003 elections, the Human Rights Watch released a report in June 2004 where they noted that ;

“Both Nigeria’s federal and state elections in 2003 and local government elections in  2004 were marred by serious incidents of violence, which left scores dead and many others injured.

The scale of the violence and intimidation, much of which went unreported, called into question the credibility of these elections.

In April and May 2003, at least one hundred people were killed and many more injured during federal and state elections in Nigeria. The majority of serious abuses were perpetrated by members or supporters of the ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

In a number of locations, elections simply did not take place as groups of armed thugs linked to political parties and candidates intimidated and threatened voters in order to falsify results. The violence and climate of intimidation facilitated widespread fraud, invalidating the results of the elections in many areas.

Nevertheless, the elections were hailed as peaceful by Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was re-elected, and were widely praised by foreign governments, including Nigeria’s key foreign allies. The 2003 elections were significant for Nigeria as the country’s first sustained transition from one civilian government to another”

In 2005, the erstwhile chairman, Mr Abel Guobadia was relieved of his duty and another electoral umpire was appointed to run the affairs of the electoral commission. This was no other than the ‘rogue’ Professor, Mr Maurice Iwu who not only had his credibility questioned, but also his academic records which gave him the title of professor. Maurice Iwu from the get go left no one in doubt that he was brought in to consolidate on the ruling party’s gains. He left office as the most chastised electoral empire in Nigeria’s history. Maurice Iwu while announcing the results of the 2007 elections, which was adjudged by opinion leaders both at home and abroad as the worst election in the history of modern day democracy, decided to go on a toilet break a quarter of the way into announcing the results of the presidential elections. On his way there, away from the glare of the cameras, he announced the PDP the winner even though only 33% (13 out of 36 states) of the results had come in.

This is what the Department for International Development had to say about it (DFID);

“The 2007 elections are regarded as the worst in Nigeria’s post-independence history. Widespread malpractice occurred throughout all stages of the elections, with failures in the late delivery of voting materials, late commencement of polls in most of the states, ballot box stuffing, allocation of votes where voting did not take place, falsification of votes, deliberate denial of election materials to perceived strong-holds of the opposition, and other such actions.

Moreover, the current ruling party fixed the results in advance, even for local government, in all but a handful of states as part of an intra-elite deal, accidentally leaking (accurate) ‘results’ to the press a few days prior to the election. Some states, such as Rivers, Ogun, Oyo, and Ekiti, saw vote totals far above the number of registered voters. 2007 broke from 2003 in going from ‘competitive rigging’ to a vote-allocation, or ‘direct capture’. ”

Then came Attahiru Jega, an individual with some level of ‘integrity’ in 2010 which gave the electorate and the country at large a glimmer of hope that something positive will emanate from the independent body during the 2011 elections. Though there were few that were sceptical about JEGA and questioned his supposed ‘integrity’ the generality of the people were willing to believe in him and that raised their expectations way higher than what it used to be during Iwu’s time. Today, we are all living witnesses to how the 2011 elections ended, under Mr “Integrity”. Elections were made to appear peaceful at the polling units while the real vote tampering was done at collation centers.

But factually speaking, INEC still remains the body, saddled with the responsibility of conducting elections in this country. It is also a fact, that JEGA is the one heading this organization and that won’t change, at least till after the 2015 general elections. Though JEGA’s “integrity” might be shaken after his complicity in the irregularities of the elections he presided over as INEC chairman, he is still by far, better than the “Abracadabra” Master, Iwu.

All told, 2015 won’t be like any other election in the history of Nigeria. A lot of the things that were tolerated before will not be this time around. The political atmosphere that existed prior to 2011 will be non existing come 2015. Especially with the formation of the mega party APC, election scrutiny will be at an unprecedented level. Gone are the days when it’ll be acceptable, for instance, for the total number of votes cast to exceed the total number of registered voters. Or the usual tactical delay in distribution of election materials to areas that are mainly opposition party stronghold. Things like voter intimidation and harassment will definitely not be tolerated come 2015. There is also an important aspect to the coming elections that wasn’t truly utilised in previous elections, but will be of great significant in the future, which is the use of social networking sites like twitter for individuals to instantly update the whole world on the happenings in a particular polling unit. These and many more things will be strengthened, to ensure that history does not repeat itself as it relates to the usual hullabaloo that we’ve been used to, conveniently tagged “elections”.

The danger here is, if all these possible checks and balances to ensure a truly free and fair election come 2015 are put in place, and yet INEC in collaboration with PDP and the security still fail to conduct free and fair elections, then the consequences will be disastrous for the entire country. Its a pivotal moment in the history of our nation that we can’t risk to jeopardize the relative peace and stability we are currently enjoying,  and catapult ourselves into a calamity that will not augur well for any person. If the 2011 post election crises are anything to go by, then every well meaning Nigerian entrusted with the full responsibility of conducting the forthcoming elections will ensure that he or she discharges his or her responsibility diligently and  to the best of his or her ability, for the overall interest of the country.

In a democracy, the biggest form of crime remains the subversion of the will of people in elections. Jega must get his team ready and avoid being charged for this crime.

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Tanko Yakasai is a proud husband and father of two. He is a broadcaster with Freedom Radio, Kano. Yakasai believes in the unity and development of Nigeria, which paved his way into community activities through NGOs in transforming our society for the better. He is a registered member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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