IN a country like Nigeria in which democracy has not been allowed to grow unimpeded, the electoral umpire – the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, – is regularly treated like a dumpsite when major elections are afoot.
In addition to its own internal contradictions, the INEC is made to carry the perceived malfeasances of political contenders. The two major political parties – the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, – have, expectedly, been accusing it of colluding with their opponents to “rig” the general elections.
Some of the accusations range from colluding with evil politicians to reconfigure the Smart Card Readers to favour their opponents, unsubstantiated allegations of INEC officials meeting with opponents at home and abroad, allowing opponents to supply ad-hoc staff, pre-informing their opponents of major decisions, manipulating the voters’ register to favour opponents, planning to undersupply stronghold areas of unfavoured parties and candidates; and what have you.
But, Nigerians are not hoodwinked. Some of these accusers are the very ones pussyfooting in the night trying to get the INEC officials, ad-hoc staff and security agents to rig the elections for them. They accuse the INEC and their opponents of perpetrating the same offences they are planning to commit. They cry in the day and tiptoe in the night, like thieves.
We acknowledge some of the patriotic efforts that the INEC had made in efforts to give Nigeria free and fair elections in 2019. These include: fronting the efforts to pass the 2018 Electoral Amendment Bill, which would have permitted the compulsory transmission of election results from polling units to the national headquarters of the Commission, strategies to curtail vote-buying and last week, the decision to shift the elections rather than stagger them as has been alleged.
In spite of these gallant efforts, the INEC must remain firm and vigilant because of the presence of compromised elements within and without, involved in the execution of these elections. If the powers that be had respected the need to make INEC totally devoid of the presence of these compromised elements the true independence of the current Board of the Commission would have been better guaranteed.
Despite shortcomings on the part of the electoral umpire and machnations of desparate politicians, most Nigerians at this juncture still retain hope that INEC, its flaws notwithstanding, is run by men and women of character. The trust reposed in these men and women must not be betrayed. INEC must creditably deliver for Nigerians.
History beckons on Professor Yakubu’s INEC. It must not perform below the standards set by Prof Attahiru Jega’s INEC in 2015.