By Emmanuel Aziken
Aides and supporters of the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu led Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were until not too long ago, claiming that the spate of inconclusive elections did not start with its administration.
However, after spurning the most rudderless election in the history of the country only the most biased aficionados are still going with that narrative.
More than one month after the February 9, date the commission gave to kick-start the general election, there is still no end in sight for when the general election would end.
It is even more remarkable that Prof. Yakubu, was reportedly, a consultant to the Prof. Attahiru Jega led INEC management that conducted what is generally acclaimed as one of the best elections in the country’s history.
The fairness of the 2015 election was judged by the fact that at the end of the poll there were very few candidates who expressed enough dissatisfaction as to seek arbitration at the tribunals.
The clumsiness of the present INEC is bolstered by the fact that even as at now the commission is still unsure of what it did that it is yet to post what was claimed as the result of the presidential election on its website for rigorous interrogation.
However, amid the gaffes of the election management body, came the exemplary fidelity to principles by one of the commission’s senior officials, Mr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Akwa Ibom State.
Ahead of the elections, Mr. Igini was the target of a vicious propaganda onslaught by a section of the political class in Akwa Ibom. At one point they asked for his redeployment on the claim that he was in bed with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state.
The assault on Mr. Igini’s character came with the arson attack on some of the commission’s facilities in the state. Till now, no valid case of compromise has been proved against Igini, a reliable veteran of the civil rights movement.
What came out of the election he conducted was that political giants compelled to go through a fair electoral process easily fell to the bemusement of the generality of the population.
The development in Akwa Ibom also shows why the Prof. Yakubu team should not be totally castigated. After all, they were asked to arbitrate a process in which political actors turned against one another as savage beasts determined to break every rule of the game to subdue the other. It was like asking a human being to stand as a referee in a fight between a lion and a hyena!
It is possible that the mess that has become the lot of our election process was the outcome of the pressures piled on the system at INEC.
The stalemate in Rivers State is particularly exemplary of the desperation of the country’s political actors to achieve their objectives irrespective of the damage to lives and institutions. This year, the situation was compounded by the involvement of state institutions as players in the political arena. That was demonstrated by the action of security agencies and INEC trading blames over the stalemate in the state.
The president’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2018), did not help matters.
Having reached this particularly sorry state, it behooves the country’s political stakeholders to push for a revolution that would stop the mess that is the country’s electoral system.
The revolution will start by eliminating the human factors that undermine the country’s electoral system. Nigerians have lately circulated the idea of configuring voting machines that work like Automatic Teller Machines, ATMs.
Given that several Nigerian engineers have been able to produce machines with similar capacities and configurations, getting the machine will be no problem.
As circulated by some on social media, all it requires is for one to present himself at the machine, identify himself the way you identify yourself to pick up money at the ATM, and cast your vote which is automatically transmitted to INEC headquarters the way account balances are deducted after every transaction.
That will scale down the huge budget spent by INEC on elections with no need for presiding officers, party agents, and of course, the immense blood that is allowed to flow on account of the struggle for power by desperate politicians.
It will also reduce the vast industry that is also being created by civil society activists infiltrating and beclouding the integrity of the electoral system through their profit-driven partisan positions.
Of course, the behemoth that is INEC, would cease and with it, will be the decisive conclusion of the narrative of inconclusive matters that have now become the narrative of our elections!