BY MOSHOOD ISAH, Sapele Street Garki, Abuja
Recently my attention was drawn to a news report that security agencies may be working towards unraveling some politicking in the country where there are unnecessary and unfortunate bickering within the PDP as the ruling party and the inter-party rivalry that are taking negative dimensions.
I strongly believe security agencies have role to play in protecting the nascent democracy from the antics of politicians who engage in distractions rather than serving the populace with positive programs and projects.
The recent altercation in Anambra is another typical instance. I was not in Anambra to witness the recent gubernatorial polls in the state, but the scoops from friends, updates on the media and numerous comments on social network (especially twitter) are enough to convey the wrong message. Different opinions abound depending on individual bias towards a particular party but it all boils down toone thing: the election was far below average when defining a free and fair election.
While candidates of the opposition parties, i.e. All People’s Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the Labor Party (LP) are all calling for the cancellation of the results, the leading and incumbent party, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) is happy with the present outcome of the election. This is basically normal in every election in Nigeria, in the sense that losers are always bad losers, but with comments from eye-witnesses and protests from some disenfranchised voters, it could be said that the election was not fair.
Already some aggrieved parties and individuals are calling for the resignation of Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof Jega over the tussle.
No doubt INEC is still far away from conducting a free and fair election in the country. There are little positives to take away from the Anambra elections. The fact that election results were cancelled in about sixty-five polling units goes a long way in sending a message that the body is determined to deliver credible elections to the people. It is pertinent to say that INEC officials are just like every other human being that could be vulnerable to temptation, especially in the face of electoral hazard in Nigeria. Officials can be threatened by party hoodlums to compromise the electoral process. This explains why elections had to be cancelled in some polling units. More so, the fact that individuals can be dubious and greedy, also explains why an electoral officer was arrested for trying to maneuver election result for a particular party. Thus no matter the efforts of the body to deliver a transparent election to the people, there are always
sabotages, that even Jega admitted within and outside the body, mostly sponsored by party stalwarts to frustrate the effort of theelectoral body.
We have also witnessed protestations from different groups including women taunting Jega for accepting some of the results, not minding the fact that the INEC chairman is not the returning officer of the election. All the same, he is always the culprit if anything goes wrong with elections in the country.
Election in a complex country, like Nigeria, filled with religious and ethnic extremist goes beyond the electoral body alone. Patriotic citizens in concomitance with incorruptible security personnel can only compliment a credible electoral body.
Imagine yourself as a polling officer and the security personnel attached to you to a polling station are already negotiating with the highest bidders on how to rig election on their behalf. The same security who man is supposed to protect you in cases like this is already luring you into it. It is so difficult not to compromise in such situation. In a scenario where as a polling officer, you stood your ground to foresee a fair poll, you become at the mercy of desperate, and wicked party officials and their hoodlums. Furthermore, even if you dance to their tune and later report irregularities in the unit, your life still remain at risk, till you are haunted down. Thus security men have a major role to play in delivering credible election in the country.
In as much as securities have a stake in conduction of a free and fair election, the people are the omega of credible election anywhere in the world. Voters’ apathy is the number one opportunity for election riggers to find their way. Thus voters should always come out to vote in any election, in as much as they are eligible. This will deter dubious electoral officers and party agents from transacting ballot papers. More so any other manipulation that would happen on the election field is always with the consent of the people. This is especially if the manipulation goes in favor of the popular party in the unit. Thus at the end of the day people still ultimately blame INEC and its leadership if anything goes wrong.
The Anambra poll is a wakeup call to all stakeholders, ranging from citizens, voters, security men and every other person that dreams of a free fair and credible election in Nigeria. Let’s have it at the back of our mind that, no amount of electoral reform will ensure credible poll if bad citizens are bent on sabotaging the effort of the electoral body.