Sunday 1 May 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review XII - Altogether acceptable

Looking at the elections

With the conclusion of the elections on the 28th of April 2011, one now has the opportunity to give a general review of the conduct and the results of what was historic in Nigerian history.

So many opinions have been proffered by many about what these elections mean for Nigeria’s future, however, critically, compared to elections held before; these are probably the freest, fairest and most credible ever administered in Nigeria.

It does not mean they were perfect, they were not and they were far from ideal but a considerable improvement time and again at each time that people offered to elect their representatives.

There are a few more results to be released, some inconclusive results and supplemental elections to hold in certain districts but the elections in the main are over.

Where we started

The newly reorganised Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had just about 10 months to pull off this turn-around in electoral fortunes that had long been besmirched with incompetence, mismanagement, fraud and corruption.

The voters registration exercise was first a logistical nightmare that INEC attempted to refocus and manage towards the successful registration of over 73 million voters.

The political landscape was a bit fraught for the opposition which for the last 4 years had remained majorly regional and had only made superficial changes to present a national front such that the merging of the opposition parties would still have been a piddling challenge to the ruling party, however, acolytes of these parties harboured bizarre levels of optimism that had no basis in realistic opportunity for success.

The structures implemented

In earlier reviews, it could be said the that theoretically INEC had put in place a whole series of checks and balances to foster credible elections along with engaging the voting public in participating in ensuring their votes counted.

There were loopholes and flaws in the process which need to be improved on in future elections whilst those who now find fault with the system are best advised to avail themselves of the processes in place for the aggrieved.

Social networking featured greatly in the observance and monitoring of the elections, some of the decisions taken by INEC to review the results and reconsider outcomes came from evidence gathered by non-INEC personnel.

Twitter served as both a useful informative platform as well as one in which reputations will be made or tarnished as it was also a vehicle for propaganda, rumour, untruths, lies and misinformation.

The parties and their options

There were three sets of elections in order for the National Assembly, the Presidency and State representation that included the governors and the state assemblies. In the first only three parties really challenged for positions and those were the ruling PDP, then ACN and ANPP with CPC, APGA and LP bringing up the rear.

In the Presidential elections CPC presented the greater challenge winning a good number of states in the far Northern Nigeria only to end up seizing a state for the governorship in the North-Central region where it lagged the ruling party a week earlier.

It goes without saying that the CPC was created mainly as a vehicle for the presidential aspirations of a messianic symbol and not much else, Nigeria would have been plunged into a stalemate of sots to have a CPC president having to work with elected representatives of other parties holding different principles, agendas and motives.

Much as Nigeria requires competence and probity in leadership, it mostly needs the apparatus of government that is not hamstrung with sapping all goodwill necessary to get the job done – the opposition was poorly organised and ill-prepared to take on the machine of the ruling party nationally and so we have the results that leave the ruling party quite dominant national whilst somewhat weakened in some regional areas.

The election low-point

The violence that arose after the presidential elections were unfortunate and poorly addressed by all those who had leadership positions to contain and ameliorate the enveloping crisis.

The Commanded-in-Chief should have been apprised of the possibilities of unrest and put in place measures to pre-empt the situation and once it had begun, he should have moved swiftly to deploy security forces to quell the problems before it lead to the unnecessary destruction of property and even more the loss of innocent lives prominent amongst which were members of the National Youth Service Corps who had been called into the greater national service of being ad-hoc staff of INEC.

At the same time, it exposed the difference between a general being able to command an army failing in battle as opposed to a messianic leader who could not control a mob that failed to attain its aims.

That became the low-point of elections that at one time were being applauded as one of the best ever conducted in Nigeria raising the esteem of the country internationally.

Moving on from this

It is the prerogative of those who care to maintain a cynical and curmudgeonly view of the elections and the continued dominance of the ruling party which is unfortunate for some.

However, we are presented with another 4 years of governance that have been tested by a more credible electioneering process of whom we are within rights to demand accountability, action and responsiveness to the needs of the electorate.

It is incumbent on the opposition to form a broader based national profile which should be evidenced in the performance of their elected representatives, but the hope of all Nigerians is that anyone with a mandate respects the privilege and gets to work for the people regardless of the party they are representing.

The foundation is laid

Nigeria is a project in flux and constant pressures of conflict, change and possible division, we Nigerians all have stewardship of a country given to us by our founding fathers to hold in trust for those who follow after us, to whom we should bestow a better, more prosperous, thriving and growingly assertive nation ready to take its place as the Giant of Africa and the land of opportunity for all regardless of circumstances of birth or fortunes of life.

The foundation laid by these elections are starting point, they still need underpinning, some reinforcements and viable structures to home the flourishing of Nigeria’s potential, it would be shame to squander the next four years in indifference, apathy or destructive criticism of those who have power today to make a difference in people’s lives.

The pursuit of justice must continue, however, not to the detriment of allowing systems to function effectively and efficiently as we demand and expect that they should.

If there is a greater call to national duty, it remains the ability and wiliness to put the nation before self for the good of the nation and the people at home and abroad.

We need to believe in the Nigeria that we have and work to build it into a greater nation.

Reference material

Where we were 4 years ago Before we lose the Nigerian elections gracefully

The comments about the results are derived from the following sources:

The INEC Nigeria homepage offers a summary of the validated results of the elections.

Punch on the Web: Election Portal | Results of 2011 Presidential and other elections

Home : Nigeria Election Coalition presents an another analysis of the results announced.

Reviews written about the elections

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

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review V

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VI - Report to Prevent Rigging

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VII - Change!

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VIII - A President-Elect

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IX - Analysing the Presidential Results

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review X - The North

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review XI - A functioning democracy?

Other issues that arose concerning the elections

Nigeria: A Primer on INEC Elections in April 2011 – Originally published at NigeriansTalk.Org – A compendium of information regarding the elections.

Nigeria: Table of INEC Electoral Chain of Custody – Documents the paper trail put in place to handle the elections and manage the results.

Nigeria: In Support of Attahiru Jega of INEC – Reviewing the mammoth task that INEC faced in trying to offer free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria this year.

Thought Picnic: My Nigerian Philosophy – What informs my stance on Nigerian issues today.

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