Professor Attahiru Jega’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to chalk up questionable competence in every election its has conducted in the country in its over three years of existence.
It set an ugly tone in the 2011 general elections when it became the first electoral regime to cancel a general election midway and start all over again. But because Jega, who was highly touted as a credible person for the job of INEC Chair was still new on the job, Nigerians were willing to forget that show of shame.
Since then, elections have been held in states like Ondo and Edo. In each case, the old bedevilling factors that make Nigerian election nototrious for failure to meet basic standards of credibility continued to shadow the performances of Jega and his Commission.
The just-concluded governorship elections in Anambra State provided yet another platform to test-run the competence of INEC, but alas! Rather than improving on the Edo and Ondo exercises, the elections fell way below the expectations of many stakeholders, such as a cross section of the political parties and their candidates, local and international observers and the electorate.
Though the election was generally peaceful and devoid of incidences of ballot snatching, much of its drawbacks centered on the INEC’s shoddy preparations and deployment of electoral materials, especially on November 16th 2013.
It was so bad in polling stations across 16 local governments that the INEC had to reschedule to November 30th. By then, the damage had been done.
Political parties such as the All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP) and Mr Tony Nwoye, the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) boycotted it. The election was marred by massive apathy, and less than 30% of the electorate were able to cast their votes.
We are calling on the INEC and all stakeholders to learn from the lessons of the Anambra elections and make sure that the impending governorship polls in Ekiti and Osun States are conducted above board.
We table this warning, cognisant of the fact that the contests are going to be much more sensitive, given the tense religious atmosphere depicted by the style of the Governor of Osun State, Mr Rauf Aregbesola and the murders that have already presaged the election in Ekiti.
We want the two elections to be dress rehearsals for a free, fair, credible and acceptable general election in 2015. The 2015 election must be handled with extreme care.
Apart from being the year many have associated with the possible breakup of Nigeria, we also have a war on terror on our hands, as well as two rival political parties that are now almost equal in size: the PDP and the APC ready to go at it.
We cannot afford to get it wrong in 2015. We must brace up to get it right.