I was of the opinion that it was the PDP that rig all these elections, but I am now much wiser. It is INEC’s incompetence and lack of integrity in the most part. I am really sorry for Prof. Attahiru Jega. Circumstances have now eroded most of the hopes we had, that with him at the helms of INEC, things will change for the better.
But, I have said it before, in the very early days of his appointment, that his integrity alone was insufficient to change anything. I suggested that INEC commissioners must be people whose integrity and record of national service are unquestionably very high indeed, even if they had to be approved by the Senate. That, the Commission, if composed of such calibre of people, must be allowed to employ all its staff and have power over them. Therefore, Jega and one or two others who have no such powers, and who have to contend with whoever is sent to work for/with them, will have only very little impact on the desperate need we have for a clean, fair and transparent electoral process. INEC itself, is simply not free, neither is it independent.
Then, there was also the Justice Uwais’s recommendations which were virtually thrown to the gutters of Government. Why should we appoint such accomplished and respectful people to work hard and advise us, for us only to disgrace them and ignore their reports and advice? Who in the future will take Government seriously; and who will accept such an assignment, knowing in the end his/her hard work will be of no value?
What happened in Anambra is a sad indicator of what 2015 will be, if we have not made the necessary changes that will ensure a free and fair election. What kind of democracy do we practise, if people who are sent to represent us are not really those who are elected, but either those in power and/or with money? In Anambra, this was what was about to happen. APC and the other political parties (not PDP or APGA) were absolutely right to reject those sham results and demand for a rerun of the entire election.
In fact, APC must not even participate in the rerun elections, unless they are sure that adequate preparations are made which will guarantee a free and fair election. The following, in my opinion must happen before the election in its entirety is rerun.
1. ALL parties to the election must be satisfied with and approve INEC’s preparations. This means that INEC should reset itself and make new preparation and show it to the parties at a meeting at least two weeks before the election. Party officials, whoever they are, must be free to inspect polling stations to ensure that these preparation are adequately implemented, before polling begins.
2. Election materials MUST be delivered to the polling stations by 6 am, and polling must start everywhere at exactly the same time. Where delays occur for whatever reason, that time loss must be compensated by extending the polling time by exactly the same hours and minutes of the delay. For example, if polling begins at 8.30 am, instead of 7 am, then polling at that station must be extended by one hour thirty minutes being the official time of closure.
Similarly, if there are several people waiting in the cue to cast their votes, enough time must be given to allow them exercise their civil rights, so long as they are on the queue thirty minutes before closing of polling.
3. No election result, even of a polling booth, shall be announced until all (or most of) the agents have appended their signatures. Similarly, at the Collation Centers and, of course, the final result.
4. No more arrest of accredited party members must happen again, as we saw in Anambra. And, all parties must be free to officially assign any job to any one they deem fit according to the law.
There may be other things that need to be done to ensure fairness, and INEC and the political parties may talk about them.
I would therefore suggest the suspension of the Anambra rerun election for four weeks, to Saturday, 21st December, 2013, to allow all these things to be done. If INEC fails again, and it is also found that either the Police or the Military or the SSS in the state were culprits to this failure, then Jega, his Commissioner in the State, as well the the Police Commissioner, the SSS chief and the Military Comandant must resign immediately from their posts. Leaders must start to take responsibility in this country. In other civilized and serious countries, all those listed above and others would long be gone!
All the elections in 2015, but especially the gubernatorial and presidential elections, are the narrow and not well hooked bridge we must cross. Any tumblings, deliberate or not, will collapse that bridge. So the earlier we take this seriously and prepare ourselves the better for all of us. Those that plan to win these elections by hook or by crook should know that they will be endangering this country. This is why, I regard the Anambra case with such seriousness.
We cannot go on operating a false democracy while the world laughs at us. It is as though this country is borne of corruption and shamelessness.
Tofa was the presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1993.
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