“…In preparing for the 2019 general elections, we have come face to face with the realities of conducting such an extensive national deployment of men and materials in a developing country like ours. It is said that elections constitute the most extensive mobilization of men and materials that any country could undertake in peacetime. The challenges of doing so, even under the best of circumstances, are enormous…”
– Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
igerians awoke to the news of the postponement of the Presidential election by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) on 16th of February, amongst several reasons, bad weather and logistics were the significant obstacles that hindered the conduct of the election as scheduled. This happened even after several Nigerians had left their places of residence to the states where they registered, likewise ad hoc staff had already deployed to the various polling units across the country.
Nigerians in our usual display of displeasure, condemned the postponement on the ground that the commission had four years, resources and budgetary allocation only to disappoint them on the fateful day. Many also questioned why the commission had to wait to barely six hours to the commencement of the election to postpone it; and if the elections would be conducted successfully and commence simultaneously across the nation on February 23rd and March 9, 2019.
To my mind, the public outcry and condemnation of the electoral body can be likened to using a hammer to crack an egg; an overkill of the symptoms neglecting the root cause of the problem. The failure or success of the commission in conducting election is a ripple effect of the kind of system that operates in our beloved country, and the system has a way of ignoring its responsibility yet quick to cast aspersion on a failing agency.
The porosity of the system is what gives way for contractors to fail in fulfilling their obligations as at when due without the resulting legal consequence. It is the same reason why there has not been adequate security of the election materials and their successful delivery to the polling units within time; let’s not forget the prompt employment, mobilization and financing of the over one million ad hoc staff for the successful conduct of the election.
The operating system of Nigeria encourages fire brigade approach in the conduct of majority of its national affairs, there is usually little room for adequate planning. I stand to be corrected, but I doubt if all the commissioners were appointed at the same time with the national chairman of the commission. And if the planning of this election actually begun in its real sense in the four years given to the commission, which begs the question, when did the commission begin its employment and training of ad hoc staff? When was funds for the election disbursed to the commission? And when was the contract awarded to contractors for the production of sensitive materials for the conduct of the election?
A Nigerian youth on hearing about the postponement of the election, called me and asked if the young ones ought to protest the action of the election. My simple reply was, even if you have a right to air your displeasure at the postponement of the election, the system would not protect you when you go out to exercise those rights.
The commission in itself is not completely absolved of the blame for the postponement of the election. But then again, we ought to understand the developing state of our system, and appreciate that it is better for the election to be delayed, gotten right, than to be conducted haphazardly and lead to pandemonium that comes with a clearly flawed election.
The commission has requested for one week to enable elections to be commenced at the same time across all polling units and also to disclose the number of PVC’s collected by the electorate. It is our prayer that when all has been said and done, the country will become a better champion as a result of a free, fair and credible elections. To the electorate, vote not fight, no politician or political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.