THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has again confirmed through its promotion of the Advance Automatic Finger Identification System, AAFIS, that things are wrong with its operations. INEC states that more than four million fake names have been taken out of the voters’ roll.
For INEC, it is an achievement to identify this lapse, more than three years after it completed the compilation of the register. The fouled register has been used in elections since 2011. The high technology Nigeria spent more than N75 billion to acquire in 2010 had capacity to display multiple registrations, once the details were linked.
About 504,818 names have been deleted from the register in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States. Kebbi, Zamfara, Taraba, Gombe, Benue, Kogi, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Enugu and Abia States have been vetted. In 13 States, 4,105,215 fake names were on the register. How long would it take to check the remaining 23 States and Abuja?
INEC seems to have submitted to the wishes of politicians to use inflated voters’ register for elections. The speed of cleansing the voters’ register is a blight on any efforts at conducting free and fair elections.
In Ekiti State alone, 108,529 fake names have been removed from the list that would be used for the governorship election of June 21. The August 8 governorship election in Osun State would be without 98,824 fake names. In Anambra State, the review of the register reduced the list from 2,011,746 to 1,714,290 – there were 297,456 fake names.
Only those who lower standards to accommodate mediocrity praise the conduct of the 2011 elections. INEC has been timid about punishing election offenders. There are fines, jail terms for almost any conceivable electoral offence. INEC does not prosecute electoral offenders, the major reason being that its officials are among the biggest offenders. INEC field officers who compromise elections may not be acting alone. What have their supervisors done to deter them?
Optimism over the 2015 elections is over-stated. Without a proper account of the 2011 elections, especially how the technological advances that cost billions of Naira did not facilitate improvements in the process, INEC has moved on.It expects Nigerians to do the same. Perpetrators of electoral fraud, INEC says, have been punished quietly.
For all the importance they bear to our future, INEC has failed to provide the transparency required to make them credible. Its plans skirt vital issues of fairness to contestants. INEC must show by its conduct that it is changing. A good start would be an account of the 2011 elections and punishments, according to the law, for those whose conducts thwarted transparency of the elections, including the inflation of the voters’ list.