Edo, Ondo polls and Nigeria’s electoral integrity – – We have been at self rule for a while now in this republic, with six national elections – 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 – and off-season too numerous to list.
In the next days, we will be faced with two other stand alone elections, first in Edo on September 19, 2020; and then in Ondo, on October 10, 2020.
Speaking straight to ourselves; we cannot be proud of the anxiety of our process. We have ebbed so low in terms of election credibility and we need to get our acts right! The franchise expectedly given to our citizens, the electorate, has not been easy for them to exercise. The trust deficit in the entire election process is so high.
I have tried hard to understand how we can make a simple process so complicated. We have unecessarily heightened the security challenge and made life difficult for the security agencies, Independent National Electoral Commission, and most especially, the electorate.
I doubt if the candidates are comfortable with this state of things; neither should the political parties if they know what is good for them. No one wins in an election that is flawed. Frankly, it is tiring.
We need to peer review and ask: where are others in their democratic journey? There is no sense in us milling round the same set of challenges without any improvement in the confidence of our people to the entire electoral process. Sure we can do with an improved electoral act but, hey, the onus is on us to act right and behave appropriately if we must have an election process that is fit for purpose.
There are roles for us all. The almighty ‘federal might’, which is our colloquial way of saying the presidency will deploy the military and security agencies under their control to excessive advantage, must be readdressed. We need to mature to the point where our security personnel, paid with taxpayers’ money, will be loyal to all and not become embarrassingly partisan.
It puts us in a very bad light and we must strive to be appropriate in this regard. INEC must know that their integrity is at an all-time low. A simple perception audit will reveal just how untrusting Nigerians are of the commission because of a few, nay, a lot of bad eggs within the system who do not get that they are meant to conduct their activities with the highest level of Intergrity that may help improve the process and reduce the litigations that have trailed our election processes for far too long.
As we go into Edo, the minimum that would be acceptable is a free, fair, transparent and credible election. We are merely trying to elect someone who will pilot Edo State affairs for four years.