We should be worried that fire outbreaks in INEC offices are getting too frequent


Elections in Nigeria are usually filled with moments of uncertainty and tension. From the electorate to the candidates, down to the authorities responsible for collating and facilitating the processes involved, there is always the anxiety that elections present. While we have presented ourselves as a democratic nation, our voting processes, however, often come with a reminder that ‘do or die politics’ might already have a permanent residence in Nigeria.

Tension is brewing as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prepares for the Ondo gubernatorial election which is only a few weeks ahead. It has been reported that over 5,000 card readers belonging to INEC have been razed in an inferno that consumed the Akure office of the commission.


Sounds familiar? This is a playbook many Nigerians are familiar with, albeit, nonchalant – and there are reasons why.

In February 2019, just four days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, it was recorded that 4,695 smart card readers were destroyed by a fire that razed INEC facilities at INEC headquarters in Awka, Anambra. There were also similar cases in the same year at the INEC office in Plateau and Abia, where facilities including card readers were destroyed by fire, but the commission was able to handle the situations without disrupting the electoral process as planned.

Even more recently, in April 2020, there was another report of fire razzing a section of the INEC Abuja office. The independent commission blamed this on faulty electrical wiring and worn-out appliances. Elections were not around the corner, yet, we need to ask why it is gradually becoming a norm.

We have seen how, over the past few years, there has been a steady record of fire outbreaks in markets, public spaces, and government facilities. Before the lockdown, there were a number of reported fire incidents – in market places, public buildings, and spaces.

Preventable occurrences, probably errors. But when this occurs now more frequently when an election is underway, you should be thinking of something more than a fire surge or a spark.

On social media this morning, Nigerians are sharing their opinion on this, with many expressing anger on how this has become a pattern:


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