INEC’S RESOLVE TO CONDUCT CREDIBLE ELECTIONS
QUOTE: “The authorities should consider reducing the number of security personnel attached to some VIPs who have not shown proofs that their lives are threatened. The withdrawn officers and men should be deployed to polling units across the land for the safety of voters and elections supervisors”.
By: Augustine Omilo
An African adage says; “while the old woman is boasting of her preparedness to devour the unripe fruit, the unripe fruit is equally boasting of its resolve to inflict the old woman with diarrhea after their encounter”. This proverb appropriately captures the current relationship between Nigeria’s political class and the nation’s electoral umpire – the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC.
As the election year approaches, many folks, as usual have begun predictions on the likely mishaps before, during and after the polls. There are those who hold the view that the Independent Electoral Commission does not have enough of what it takes to conduct credible elections in the country. This set of people are quick to point to the fact that the nation is yet to develop a sustainable electricity supply module and stable communication network that can guarantee the successful deployment of the Biometric Voters’ Accreditation System (BVAS) for election. This is in addition to the possible failure of INEC to transmit election results electronically as being planned.
These fears towards the failure of technology in the conduct of the 2023 election were heightened by the All Progressives Congress, APC recently. According to the party’s Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, the electoral umpire should jettison the idea of scientific applications in the management of Nigeria’s electoral process. Expectedly, the ruling party and its leaders have continued to receive condemnations from the major opposition parties and other well-meaning country men and women for what they suspect to be statements suggesting APC’s preparedness to manipulate the elections in its favour.
In the midst of all the divergent views, the Electoral body has remained resolute on its plans to conduct free, fair and credible polls come 2023. According to the organization’s chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu who is a professor of political history and international studies, there is no going back on the already planned visions towards rancour-free future elections in Nigeria. In what appears to be a morale booster to the INEC’s postulations, the communication service providers under the aegis of Telcos have lent its voice to the possibility of transmitting results on-line and real-time.
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed its determination to guarantee elections that cannot be faulted, the onus now lies on all Nigerians to do all that they can to support her along this line.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN has done one of the things it can towards avoiding the buying and selling of Votes in 2023 by redesigning the nation’s currency notes. The electorate should reciprocate the gesture by making sure that their votes are not stolen by any other means. They must do the needful towards voting their conscience and go further to protect their votes. It may be tasking but worthwhile to watch as votes are counted by officiating electoral personnel. This will help to ensure that the votes are counted just as they should count.
The security agencies must not fail to complement the efforts of INEC and the citizens who are committed to voting in credible leaders. The authorities should consider reducing the number of security personnel attached to some VIPs who have not shown proofs that their lives are threatened. The withdrawn officers and men should be deployed to polling units across the land for the safety of voters and elections supervisors.
It may not also be out of place to recall security personnel on one form of leave or the other in addition to inviting retired but not tired ex-service men and women. These former agile men can act as plain clothe detectives in information gathering. They can work in synergy with local vigilantes as well as the officers still in active service.
Those involved in supervising the elections as well as the ones protecting lives and properties relating to elections must receive wages that will discourage them from accepting gratifications from politicians. In this regard, the payments must also be timely. Part-payments can be made upfront as a motivation.
Training and retraining of security personnel and electoral officials must not be relegated to the background. The time left for preparation may be short but it will be enough to train major stakeholders with directives to train subordinates. The role of the police and other civilian-friendly organisations must be separated from those of the military.
In all, the positive attitude of the Independent Electoral Commission towards next year’s election must be commended. In fact, as INEC ‘thinketh’ in its heart, so it is likely to be in 2023. For example, the presidential candidates and their parties should also be making plans for a possible run-off of election to determine Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
For the avoidance of doubts, the electoral umpire has already printed extra ballot papers to accommodate the second round of elections since it thinks that no candidate is likely to win clearly at first ballot attempt.