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Re: 2011 polls: Will Uwais report count?

By Kunle Oyatomi
There appears to be little sense of urgency driving the political advance to 2011. I am beginning to be afraid that we will miss the mark unless we accelerate our pace of work towards conducting a credible, free and fair election that will meet international standards, and ensure local satisfaction. We have only eight months to go before the election in February at the latest, and the only positive thing we have on ground is the appointment of INEC’s chairman with his commissioners.

Even at that, the man cannot start work until confirmed by the National Assembly that is currently on vacation. Sad that at this critical point in time of our political evolution, you don’t see a sense of urgency and commitment on the part of our leaders in government.

Very clear indications are emerging from the presidency that the Uwais report on electoral reforms has no place in 2011 polls. Well, Nigerians should have known that if they had paid close attention to what Mr President said in the USA to the effect that existing electoral laws, if strictly applied, are capable of producing a credible election.

If we missed that piece of information originally, at least now we cannot claim ignorance because the presidency has gracefully reminded us that Mr. President is not obligated to the Uwais report that remains just a recommendation and not a law. Besides, we are also reminded that Uwais report was unfortunately not commissioned by Mr President, but by his predecessor, late President Yar’Adua. So it will take some time (if at all) for the Uwais report to become law. We must have been victims of some illusion borne of over optimism.

Albeit, there is nothing in the way of progress except the lethargy which surrounds preparations for 2011 elections.
We already have the President’s word that with the existing law, he is determined to conduct a credible election next year in which people’s votes will count.

Nigerians believe him. But as things stand, just eight months before the election, people are getting seriously worried that we could lose this awkward race against time and bungle the 2011 polls if greater care is not taken to put things in order.

What is yet undone to ensure a credible poll is so mu h that I am one of the many Nigerians who doubt that we can reliably put together a dependable voters’ register within the next six months. However, nothing is impossible with a determined and progressive leadership. This country expects nothing less than a massive application of energy (human and material) to the job of up-dating the voters’ register without which it would be impossible to conduct an election in Nigeria that will be acceptable locally and internationally.

In my candid opinion the Uwais electoral reform report is “clinically dead.” Maybe after 2011, it could resurrect; but that’s only in the domain of conjecture. Even if we should trust President Goodluck Jonathan to keep his promise on the 2011 election the people of this country can only be reassured by evidence on the ground. Unfortunately, there is nothing visible yet to inspire confidence. Jonathan must not fail.

Pray, where are the aspirants?

We have spent so much energy talking about credible polls for 2011, and we are almost lost to the fact that there is no serious candidate we can point to as the man to beat.

That is because nobody really has come forward with a plan, a programme or his personal vision for Nigeria, and how that candidate intends to go about pulling Nigeria from the abyss into which she has sunk. What we are insulted with are names of people who belong strictly in the past, but are being floated as possible presidents come 2011. There is no way the names of ex-generals on parade would strike a chord.

They are flat out and unsuitable for the next generation of presidents that Nigeria deserves. Having said that, I am surprised that nobody is putting his hat in the ring as yet. We have only six months ahead for serious campaign. People must get to know how their next president is likely to be; and especially so because they want to know whether or not he has got stuff in his head and plan to make a difference after 50 wasted years that have left our rich, beloved country in ruins.

The country needs brilliant candidates who are blessed with a vision and a potent sense of mission to file out and seek leadership for the purpose of service to our people.

We cannot continue with the tragedy of failed past leaders whose names are being dropped allover the place.
A new generation of Presidents must be one who should salvage us from ruins and re-create the country for the pride, progress and relevance of Nigeria in the comity of Nations. Let the capable and the willing come to be counted. Nigeria needs you!!


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