Friday, 20 April 2007

Nigerian ballots probably in the air

The admission of flaws

The conversion of INEC into the Sultans of the Ballot and the Genies of the Vote continues apace.

Having had the President finally admit that there were flaws in the elections conducted last week is probably more a damage limitation exercise than one of sincere contrition.

It would appear some external pressure has been applied to make the government wake up to some stark realities which the President expressed in quite succinct words - The world is watching us and we cannot afford to disappoint ourselves, our friends and the world - indeed, we have all been watching how the vote that went in produced a tally of some other spurious count from which some pre-determined winner emerges, though like a fellow blogger noticed, those winners seem to go into hiding rather than come out to celebrate - Go figure!

Ballots are in the air

However, what leaves me breathless like I have just been punched violently in the belly is the response of the Chairman of INEC to the rumour that a truckload of ballot papers marked in favour of the ruling party had been seized.

Apparently, sorry, the reality is, the ballot papers needed to conduct the elections throughout the whole of Nigeria tomorrow are not yet in the country. Yes, the ballot papers are not yet in the country; they are being printed in South Africa after the outrageous politicking adventure of INEC came unstuck.

In fact, the Federal Government, earlier in the week had to release NGN 15 billion to INEC to help them handle this development which everyone but INEC knew would happen - I suppose the INEC budget had already been expended on other matters of graft and importuning than the conduct of elections.

So, INEC has just less than 24 hours to ensure that ballot papers reach the nether regions of the country such that the people have full access to the choices available which should include Atiku Abubakar, the current Vice President of Nigeria.

One can say, if the ballots have left South Africa already, then they would be in the air, just the reality of the elections being conducted with any level of professional ability would be welcome.

Candidates amiss

However, I predicted over a month ago that the Vice President's application to contest would probably be granted so late that some people would not have the choice of voting for him, allowing those whose names appear on the ballot to capture alternative preference votes, handing the Presidency to someone else, which would probably be the Healthy Sick-man from Katsina State - Umaru Yar' Adua.

The simple thing is that INEC whilst anticipating the fact that they might lose the battle to disqualify the Vice President, they did not have the contingency that the Chairman said was available to handle the eventuality that is now the current situation.

So, rather than postpone the election to ensure that all due processes for conducting free and fair elections are met, the polling booths would open two hours later on Saturday.

Only a forlorn miracle

From INEC's track record, if they had some polling booths opening 6 hours late or not at all last Saturday, having had all the time to adequately prepare, but wished for a miracle of efficiency rather than the effectiveness of proper planning; they cannot have improved enough to manage the logistical failures of last week in a better way for this weekend.

It is within this circumstance that we find Nigeria's true democracy sacrificed to the criminal mismanagement of the elections which would result in the lack of culpability for committing Nigeria to a possible state of disquiet, unrest and anarchy, just because INEC could not be bothered to do it right.

We probably should forget about counting the ballots and start counting on judges to make sure our votes count.

References

The INEC Blogs

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