In any democratic election, the electorates (voters) determine the outcome of such elections and because of this privilege, they are treated like mini gods by politicians in other more civilised climes. In such countries, politicians respect the sovereignty of the electorates because they know their chances of winning are solely dependant on the will of the voters. But such is not the case in Nigeria and Africa to a large extent.
Cases of electoral malpractices are not peculiar to the Nigerian electoral process nor African. Only that in our case the electorates are treated like slaves while the politicians are the masters. 1n 1927, the then Liberian president, Charles King, won the country’s 1927 election with 234,000 votes in a country of 15,000 eligible registered voters. Robert Mugabe has continuously won re-election in his country Zimbabwe, in elections marred with massive rigging and violence. In Cameroun, Kenya, Rwanda, C.A.R, etc the cases all the same.
Nigeria’s case is no different, all elections held in this country have all had similar characteristics of rigging and violence which begs the question, whether Nigerian voters really determine the outcome of elections? The continuous perpetuation of this malicious electoral malpractices undermines the sovereignty and importance of the Nigerian voters.
The adverse effect of this is that, it has rather widen the gap between the politically passive citizens and the politically active citizens. It has given rise to political apathy as people believe that even before elections are conducted, the powers that be already know the winners so it’s no use staying out to vote or participating in electoral processes.
Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, erstwhile national chairman of PDP, once said the PDP would rule the country for another 60 years before it could relinquish power to any other political party. This statement also undermines the role and powers of the voters.
He didn’t base his prophecy on the achievements of his party. Some wondered if he made the statement on the backdrop of his party’s notoriety in rigging elections, but rigging is not a one party thing, all political parties indulge in this. They always innovate new ideas of circumventing the electoral processes.
In the aftermath of PDP’S defeat in the hands of APC, where they did not only lose control of the central government but also suffered heavy defeats in the components states of the Federation, the PDP have traded blames within its fold about who and what caused the defeat.
Many reasons and theses have been postulated as to why the party lost, from betrayal, sabotage, hate campaigns on Buhari, mismanagement of funds, over confidence, lack of internal democracy, etc. Yet, no one has been able to recognise the supremacy of the voters. No one has thought it wise to observe that perhaps the voters didn’t vote for PDP this time.
This, to me, shows the PDP never recognised the power and sovereignty of the electorates, perhaps they’ve always had their ways of winning elections. The mismanaged funds that they talk about, were they meant for the purpose of buying people’s votes or voters’ card? Were they to be used to purchased food items for the electorates in return of their votes? Were they to be used to pay for services of political thugs? Were to be used to bribe corrupt electoral officers?
These and many more they didn’t tell us what the mismanaged funds were meant for, the funds the former president was alleged to have demanded for a refund in the sum of N2trn. As far as I am concerned, former President Jonathan had a good outing and showing during the campaign periods, he toured virtually all the states of the Federation to campaign and his wife followed suit later on within the six weeks’ extension.
During the salah celebrations, newly elected APC senator from Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani, distributed camels to members of his constituency as gifts for salah. A concerned citizen took to twitter and told the distinguished senator that “truth be told @Shehusani, I did not stand in queue under the scorching sun of April to vote for you just so you can distribute camels”. Fair enough right? But the senator replied the fellow in no friendly manner “I don’t think I’ve reached out to you for votes”.
What! If you never reached out of votes then how did you win? Is Senator Shehu trying to tell us that there was a grand scheme of manipulations that secured his victory to the Senate whether the people voted or not?I regarded that as an affront and insult to people of his constituency that voted for him (if their votes ever mattered).
At the last election, some incredulous figures released by INEC as results, in some places it raised doubts to the bogus figures allocated to, for example, Osisioma and Obingwa local governments in Abia state who had 47,000 and 82,000 votes respectively allocated to PDP. It was the same situation in Akwa Ibom state where the winner in the gubernatorial election had over 990,000 votes against his closest rival with 89,000 votes.
Those figures were beyond comprehension. At the Akwa Ibom election tribunal, it was established that the total number of accredited voters captured by the INEC’s server at the head office showed 427,000 voters while the Form EC8 used in the election showed that over 1.15m people voted, an over flow of 721,000 voters. It is astonishing!
All that happened when we were yet to comprehend how APC got over 1.93m votes in Kano and PDP’s 1.4m votes in Rivers. In the north there were reported cases of alleged under age voting by minors who were not up to 18 years.
Snatching of ballot boxes, buying of PVCs, intimidation of voters and violence took centre stage in all parts of the country. These politicians were so desperate to win election they paid no recourse to the voters, they have to win either by sweat or by blood.
Now, more than ever, is the time we need to step up the electoral reform processes, now that it seems our democracy is growing. At least, the past administration played it’s own part by providing the necessary support for the Jega led INEC, who introduced the PVC and Card readers to curb multiple voting and other electoral malpractices.
Now the present government can take a leap further and introduce E-voting. Already, Prof. Ibiyemi Samuel has noted that e -voting is possible in Nigeria if NigComsat-1R is fully deployed. Let the Buhari led government works towards achieving this.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Victor Terhemba Is a talent manager, political analyst and social commentator from Lagos.
Follow him on Twitter: @inkrediblesmog [email protected]