After the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the presidential election from 16th February to 23rd February, 2019, it became obvious that the Commission was not ready for the elections. Prior to that, the Commission had declared the Osun state gubernatorial election inclusive, which made discerning Nigerians to raise their eyebrows about the preparedness of the electoral umpire to conduct the forthcoming 2019 election. Its postponement was therefore, not a surprise to many.
After postponing the election, the electoral body made efforts to convince Nigerians that it was ready for the elections. I didn’t expect less from the Chairman of INEC. What will he tell the world about his inability to carry out a function he had four years to prepare? We all watched the Chairman’s daily briefing as he laboured to bring us up to speed with preparations and how he plans to defeat Mr. Logistics.
Despite the daily update, the presidential election wasn’t without challenges. Problems of poor distribution of electoral materials, failure of the card readers, and late arrivals of electoral officers to polling units, still echoes and trails the result that was declared.
The electoral umpire may want to create an excuse on why the presidential election experienced challenges, considering the large number of polling units, the desperate antics of politicians to deliver their state at all cost in order to impress their masters, and a host of other reasons.
There is a popular aphorism that once you make a mistake, you should learn from it. The general expectation therefore, was that the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections would be an improvement on the presidential election. Like everything Nigerian, that didn’t happen. It is beginning to look like Nigerians cannot get anything right.
Election plays a significant role in the life of every nation. It is a serious business that we should not contaminate with our Niaja attitude. It produces or is supposed to produce the leadership that will manage the affairs of a country. Where an election is stained, the leaders produced from that process remain stained. Nigerian elections over the years, have been stained. The people cannot beat their chest to say that they have produced the leaders who have governed this country over the years, through a hitch free electoral process. The will of the people is always made subject to the will of the one who knows how to rig better. I said “rig better” because all politicians rig elections. Winners who are declared are usually those who have outrigged their opponents.
The gubernatorial elections conducted by the Inconclusive (Independent) National Electoral Commission in some states, already have credibility questions hanging on its neck. The word “inconclusive” is now synonymous with our election.
People are tensed and the opposition is shouting, claiming that the affected states declared inconclusive are states where it is winning or leading. One cannot blame them; we all witnesses to the magic that played out in Osun.
From reports across the country, fewer people came out to vote for the gubernatorial and house of assembly elections. The voter apathy in this year’s election is massive. There was enthusiasm for the presidential election, but INEC’s poor handling of that election caused the voter apathy were experienced in last Saturday’s election. In the future, we may experience a situation where no one comes out to vote, considering how electoral umpire managed the last elections.
Nothing will be more tragic for a country than when the electoral body charged with the responsibility of creating the platform for the people to exercise their civic duty, turns out to be the one that has discouraged them from doing so.
It’s a shame.
Frank Ijege – [email protected]
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