Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Nigeria: Give INEC all she needs to do well

Reason coming to the fore

It is with interest if not encouragement that I now hear that the political parties are in favour of going for a more realistic timeframe [1] towards the 2011 elections in Nigeria.

For a long while, I have been sceptical about the timetable [2], provisions, preparedness and viability of any of the projections.

It was too easy to pooh-pooh the voter registration exercise which was to register, certify and confirm about 70 million votes from the about 150 million population of Nigeria within 20 calendar days.

Organisation is not our forte

Going from the disputing that arose from the census of 2006 [3], there is no way the voters register numbers would not have been impeded in courts and all sorts of debate and rancour as Nigerians are wont to exercise themselves about and mostly without facts or figures to justify their claims.

The unpalatable truth is that Nigeria does not have the track record for competence in logistics and the ability to conduct this function with any professionalism, expertise or sense of exactness regardless of who has been put in charge of the Independent National Electoral Commission [4] (INEC).

Parachute leadership

For me, the issue of the leadership of INEC was also important, this is an organisation that has failed to manage the electoral system efficiently that results were bogged down in courts and tribunals, some yet to be settled since 2007.

The erstwhile chairman had become the byword for spectacular bungling but was only relieved of his post at the end of his tenure in June 2010 when he should have been sacked ignominiously the day after those atrocious presidential results were announced in 2007; most especially for the incompetence that had ballot papers for a nationwide election being flown in from South Africa just 24 hours before the vote.

Hypocrisy of the highest order

The Nigerian legislature which is comprised of the political parties that are now acquiescing to the need for a postponement or rescheduling of the calendar are the ones who voted to have the elections hold in January 2011 instead of April 2011; giving the new chairman hardly any time to stamp his authority on the organisation he has sworn to make deliver free and fair elections.

The logic was wrong, flawed and self-serving, it is better to conduct free and fair elections late which put aside the need for dispute if the elections were conducted properly than to conduct them early to allow for disputes to be resolved before the declared winners or their aggrieved opponents are satisfied and sworn into office.

A commendable legislative duty

The legislature that has grown fat on a largesse of emoluments and benefits without much to show for their activity towards improving the well-being of Nigerians were careless by not realising that the former is of more value than the latter.

It is now time for the legislative arm of government to review the wretched law that has hamstrung INEC with the possibility of delivering another set of bad democratic returns and allow this, as it were, independent body, to set its timetable within reason, with a sense of reality and a clear idea of the goals they can achieve to ensure that everyone elected has legitimacy and the credibility of an almost flawless exercise of suffrage.

Nigerians deserve this review more than INEC or the politicians do and for once, let the people we pay to represent us show that they understand the responsibility they are called to in service of the nation and its people.

The incumbent politicians do not have to be returned and they should not view their seats with a sense of eternal occupancy allowing for the do-or-die mentality that governs the quest for political office in Nigeria; the electorate should be allowed to make the decision of who represents them and see their decisions duly acknowledged in a clean electoral contest leading to fair elections.

Please give INEC time, space, latitude and means. Thank you.

Sources

[1] allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Parties Back INEC's Request for Extension

[2] Timetable for Nigeria’s 2011 General Elections « #EnoughisEnough Nigeria

[3] Akin: Gauging the Nigerian 2006 Census

[4] INEC Nigeria

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