Barring the rescheduled elections in parts of Anambra State, the November 16, 2013 governorship election has come and gone. But the recurrence of the old inadequacies of a typical Nigerian election has continued to linger.
Many had hoped that with the staggering of elections as a result of election tribunal verdicts, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would have all the time and resources, as well as the cognate experience, to ensure that each subsequent election would be conducted with the benefits of invaluable lessons learned.
There were high hopes that the governorship elections in Ondo and Edo states that followed the April 2011 general election would afford the INEC the opportunity of delivering a near-perfect governorship poll in Anambra in November 2013. But alas! This was not to be. Though the INEC went out of Anambra and the South-East zone to bring in 349 Electoral Officers, with a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) and three Commissioners of Police leading the armada of security for the election, many election observers and media reporters still thumbed down arrangements and deployments for the poll.
For instance, youth corps members and security officers brought from other states could not be settled in to enable them face their work with their minds set at rest.
Their personal effects were littered all over the state capital even on polling day. The NYSC electoral officials complained of not being financially mobilised to move to their places of assignment.
Many people could not find their names on the polling register because political parties, which have become lazy since the return of democracy in 1999, were unable to mobilise their supporters to go and check the status of their registration, as INEC gave enough time for this to be done.
The perennial problem of late arrival of polling materials still reared its ugly head. The INEC rescheduled elections in some areas to the following day, Sunday, in a state which is predominantly Christian in population.
The INEC under Professor Attahiru Jega has continued to strike the posture of incompetence, since it took the unprecedented step of stopping elections halfway in 2011, an event that nearly set the nation adrift.
The INEC must wake up to its duties of conducting credible elections in Nigeria. Though the result of the election in Anambra reflected the general preferences of the electorate, the harrowing experiences that the electorate was subjected to was unfortunate and condemnable.
This is one of the reasons for election apathy and the yawning gap between the number of registered voters and those that actually turn out to vote.
INEC must rediscover the formula to restore the people’s faith in the electoral process before the historic 2015 polls. The earlier the better.