Vista Woman

June 13, 2009

Re: Elections in Nigeria – a disgrace

By Helen Ovbiagele Woman Editor
IF there’s one thing we, as a country still can’t get our head around,  it’s holding elections.  Most of the readers who responded to our write-up agreed that our main problem is the stupendous wealth and power that winning at elections bring.

Hitherto, working in the banking, oil and gas, telecomms industries meant instant wealth.  These days, it’s winning at elections.   In many developed countries, being a member of Parliament is part time job and is not supposed to be your main source of income.

In Nigeria, with the presidential system, it’s not only a full-time job, it’s a career for life.   I understand that being elected is such a lucrative thing that one term is enough for you to make all the money you need in life.  If this is true, it explains the do-or-die attitude that trails elections in this country.

The family or even clan of a politician believe that his/her winning at elections is what will raise their financial status, so, it’s fight to a finish with the opponents.

Some readers believe that if the gains from winning at elections, whatever the category, are not attractive, standing for elections will not be so much sought after, and the do-or-die attitude will cease.

‘Madam, until we make our elective posts to be less attractive and send to jail, those politicians who aid and abet electoral malpractices and violence, in addition to barring them from vying for elective posts for a certain number of years, so long will they continue to bring disgrace to our country, as they did in the Ekiti re-run election that was allegedly characterized as usual with electoral fraud and violence.’ Ifeka Okonkwo.

‘Helen, I like your write-up of last Sunday page 28.  Until political offices are made less lucrative, Nigeria will never be the same.  But let them remember what happened to a late military ex-president.  Poor pensioners are dying every day because of years of pensions arrears.  Nobody cares.’

‘INEC is the only body giving electoral failures in Nigeria because of its untrustworthy and unfaithful leadership.  Its failure to conduct a free and fair re-run election in Ekiti has given a scene of the 2011 general elections.  Blame no one for bad conduct of election in Ekiti and Nigeria in general, but INEC.’ TORORSEER ADZEMBE, Makurdi.

‘It’s a disgrace each time we show the world that we can’t conduct peaceful and transparent elections in this country.  I’m in my fifties and I’m baffled as to the reason why.  Is it that we’re not mature enough to rule ourselves or what?  Just imagine the scenario in Ekiti recently.  Before the results of the re-run were declared the INEC official disappeared and from her hiding, resigned from her position.

Her resignation was rejected and the Police then declared her a wanted person.  She resurfaces and the rest is history.  Till date I still can’t understand what the whole drama was about.  Apparently, elections in Nigeria go beyond just going to cast your votes, the votes being counted and a winner being declared.   At every step, it appears there is a manipulative hand.

Whose?  The country needs deliverance. ‘ Peter, Ondo.
‘I love democracy, but, I’m sorry, I think military rule is best for us; at least at this time.   We can’t vote peacefully.  We can’t count transparently.  We can’t accept results maturely.  Why bother?   Bring in the boot boys!  Let them rule until we’re disciplined enough to conduct peaceful and credible elections.

The western world may not approve military rule, but they should understand that some countries in the developing world are not disciplined and honest enough to embrace self-rule in the form of democracy.   I can’t see democracy being practised anywhere in the country.  Thanks.  Baba, Oyo State.’

‘Money is the motivating factor in politics in this country.  Remove monetary gains and power, and we’ll have a hard time finding politicians who would want to stand for elections.  The presidential system that we’re running is so expensive and overcrowded.

There are so many advisers on every subject under the sun, and yet things are not working in the country.  When people have cheated and battled their way to be declared winner at the polls, they forget fast what they’re supposed to be doing in that position.  Why?  They’re so busy chasing contracts and lining their pockets.

See what’s being said about inflated and bogus contracts among law-makers both at federal and state levels!

I’m sure the local governments are not left out either.  Most politicians in this country actually have nothing to offer in the way of service to the nation.

All they want is money, and they would do anything to win.  Elections are doomed in Nigeria.’ A concerned senior citizen, Delta State.

‘If we want to stop fraud and violence in our elections, let’s make the system a non-money making one.  You’ll see that almost no-one would like to contest elections.

But then, who’s to dictate this?   The very same people who want to get elected and stay elected.  They will look out for themselves and ensure that the money bonanza in politics, continues.

Only the Lord can intervene in our situation, and this doesn’t involve a mere change in governance.  It involves sound policies by non self-serving Nigerians at the helm of affairs.’  Ahmed, Kano.

‘Madam, if we don’t want elections bringing us disgrace, we should jail those who are found to be behind the rigging, confusion, threats, intimidation and violence that dog elections in this country.  We should be ashamed and at the same time worried that the world sees us as an unstable country.

The worrying thing is that most rulers here are not committed enough to be ashamed of the image of this country.

They don’t seem to mind how the world sees us as a nation, provided they achieve their purpose which is to get to power at all costs.  It’s a shame.’  Anya, Port Harcourt.

‘Madam Ovbiagele, in my opinion, since we can’t conduct transparent elections, I think we should hands off the exercise and invite foreign countries to come in and do it for us.  Yes, that’s embarrassing, but it seems the only way out.

Let no INEC official or members of any political party go near the polling booths or counting centres.  Only voters should be on the streets for a limited time.

We should submit ourselves to this humiliating situation in order for transparent elections.’
We thank all those who sent sms and mail.