Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review V

INEC failing itself

Now over 72 hours since the National Assembly elections were concluded in Nigeria, we find ourselves at crossroads of hope and possibility without the clearest indication of what the future really holds.

As results from various Polling Units trickled in from messages sent with the #NigeriaDecides Twitter hashtag, this gave way to presumably collated results of Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies without the required corroboration of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC is supposed to be the final arbiter of the elections and their representative officials at different levels of government representation were supposed to announce the results at their respective posts and pass that on to the higher levels within the INEC hierarchy.

Unfortunately, despite all that we have learnt and seen, INEC has not necessarily assumed this role from the centre by publishing the results and for 24 hours the sometimes informative @inecNigeria has been silent with the last message being the advice that we exercise patience.

Patience can only be exercised for so long before it breeds resentment, suspicions and a sense of injustice brewing towards the corridors of power as the goodwill won by the INEC in the seemingly free, fair and transparent conduct of the elections is slowly being sapped away with the lack of alacrity to a critical stage of the process which is the authorised and validated announcement of results.

Losing ground but not the footprint

The National Elections Coalition has however released a list of results [1] at the time of this writing that shows that out of the 94 contested Senate seats 86 results have been declared and out of the 312 contested House of Representatives seats 89 results have been declared.

This does not augur well for the expectations for the next set of elections for the Presidency, the State executives with their legislatures and the postponed National Assembly elections for 15 Senatorial Districts and 48 Federal Constituencies neither does it engender confidence if INEC does not do all in its power allay the fears of Nigerians of a results being cooked up in some backrooms that favour people who have not won the popular and expressed will of the electorate.

The results declared so far however show that the ruling party is losing some ground thought it does still command an overwhelming majority that places the opposition parties on a splintered platform of the ineffectual by reason of their numbers.

An opposition short of clout

Sadly, the egos and ambitions of the frontline contestants of the opposition parties do not suggest that they might be able to reach a compromise or consensus on a united front in readiness for the remaining elections. In fact, coalitions of convenience formed out of expediency have every likelihood of failing woefully when the responsibility of power of thrust upon them.

What we can really hope for is an effective opposition that counter-balances the ruling party which by reasons of geographical spread and political reality is still the real national party in Nigeria.

The rumours and talks of either opposition candidate pulling out in favour of another is not likely to serve Nigeria well at this time apart from the confusion that it would create within the fragile electoral process that is yet to stand the test of its viability and usefulness for Nigeria’s future purpose.

Attitudes might be changing

The political landscape is changing as certain political potentates of yesterday have graciously conceded defeat and other power-bloc that otherwise seemed immovable have lost the political clout of electoral success to aggrandise and fulminate for a season.

This however is not to say that the elections did not still have its twists and turns from inducements that included election posters appearing inadvertently on bags of rice though other gifts of cash and kind to persuade voters to sell their electoral consciences for temporary relief.

At collation centres certain losers lost by very slight margins that there would be that outrageous optimistic slant of die-hard effrontery to overturn that stark reality through the courts and the bully pulpit of the media – I would hope the those issues will be expedited and concluded such that those who do not have the mandate do not get to exercise power and influence for any length of time.

Accountability is the prize

The greatest benefit of this election would be that of accountability, the hope that with the greater participation of the citizenry in protecting their votes it would be impressed on the elected that they enjoy their positions at the goodwill of the electorate from whom they should strive to earn and command respect throughout their term.

It is however too early to advocate a comprehensive recall system that allows for non-performing representatives who engage solely in politicking for pecuniary advantage to be deprived of office by an intra-term election that serves as an enduring test of the vote of confidence.

INEC still has a lot of work to do, the people nabbed for electoral malpractice need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and given sentences that serve as deterrents to others that might be persuaded to engage in lawlessness, their conduct of the other elections will also be under greater scrutiny and test such that it would be foolish of them to rest on their laurels considering that last election Saturday is majorly unfinished business.

Nigerians have to continue to be vigilant witnesses of all the electoral events they participate in and more so those who were apathetical and unconcerned last week need to become participants in what would effectively define the next four years of Nigeria’s life and outlook.

We might just have the makings of a working democracy but we have only just started that race and it would be a marathon longer than any we have run before.

Sources

[1] National Assembly Election Results : Nigeria Election Coalition

Reference Notes & URLs

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review I

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review II - New Election Dates

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review III - Who votes on Saturday.

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part I to Voting

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part II - We can

General Election Information

Nigeria: A Primer on INEC Elections in April 2011

Nigeria: INEC Election Guidelines - Critical Information

Nigeria: Table of INEC Electoral Chain of Custody

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