The high level of poverty, underdevelopment, corruption and crime in Nigeria has been attributed to the high degree of deliberate irregularity and malpractice in the nation’s electoral system which has made the electorate very insignificant, helpless and powerless in the true determination of who is elected.
Dr. Emmanuel Ufuophu-Biri, an Associate Professor of Mass Communication and Journalism at the Delta State University, Abraka, who made this assertion while speaking as the guest lecturer during a public lecture and colloquium organized as part of rites of passage for His Royal Majesty, Professor Paul Oghenero Okumagba, Idama II, the Orosue Okere Urhobo Kingdom, Warri, disclosed that the high rate of electoral malpractice in Nigeria which has given rise to the serious underdevelopment in Nigeria might not be unconnected with electoral malpractice which could have taken its root from examination malpractice.
Speaking on the topic “Integrity and selflessness: a panacea to examination malpractice”, he explained that whoever graduated from any institution of learning with the aid of examination malpractice is much more likely to engage in different forms of malpractices including electoral malpractice throughout his/her life.
He added that “this is a serious problem in Nigeria because many elected leaders who are beneficiaries of examination and electoral malpractices are no longer responsible and responsive to the electorate because they feel that the electorate did not vote for them rather they came into office through electoral malpractice, corruption and violence”.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri further described electoral malpractice, which includes election rigging, electoral violence, vote-buying, intimidation of the electorate and fellow contestants and judicial manipulation of election petitions as cankerworm in the social, political and economic fabric of the country.
He added that unless electoral malpractice is eradicated in Nigeria, the country would forever remain underdeveloped, doomed and global laughing stock.
He disclosed that the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) as the Chief Examiner in the electoral examination must be upright and avoid electoral malpractice by being fair, impartial and just.
He added “Once we get the electoral process right we would have gotten everything right. The electoral process must be free from malpractice. This needs integrity and selflessness on the part of the INEC”.
He further explained that examination malpractice is destructive to the individual and the society as it promotes mediocrity, incompetence and unprofessionalism and gives an underserved advantage to less qualified candidates. He adds that “when such persons get into positions of responsibility, they are unable to perform and they become a liability to the entire society. Just imagine the danger posed to society by persons who become medical doctors through cheating. They rather become medical murderers instead of lifesavers”.
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He explained that conquering examination and electoral malpractices would help to instill integrity in the nation. He noted that a society that lacks people of integrity, selflessness and honour would continue to suffer and this is probably what Nigeria is currently suffering from today.
“The leaders ought to make the people they are leading to benefit first before they benefit. This is, however, lacking in Nigeria thus we have super individuals and weak public structures and infrastructure. If a nation does not have collective national integrity, no matter the level of an individual citizen’s integrity and success the citizen will not be respected outside the country. This is what Nigeria is suffering from hence we have become the laughing stock in the international arena.
“The implication is that Nigerians are being treated with disrespect globally. In South Africa they are victims of xenophobia, in America, they are facing the threat of deportation from President Donald Trump and the threat of Brexit is facing them dangerously in Britain and they are not free in Ghana.”
He added that even here in Nigeria we face the danger of criminals, kidnappers, killer herdsmen, bandits, Boko Haram, ISWAP, armed robbers, human ritual killers, internal deportation, illegal detention at private and public facilities, severe poverty and totally failed public infrastructure. “This is simply because there is no selflessness, no service to humanity and lack of integrity”.
Dr Ufuophu-Biri described the Late King, His Royal Majesty, Paul Okumagba as an examination Czar who fought against examination malpractices throughout his service in the Delta State University, Abraka and the entire state. He said Professor Paul Okumagba lived a selfless live full of untainted integrity and service to humanity.
The Chairman of the occasion, Professor Patrick Muoboghare, the Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education also pointed out that examination malpractice was evil and an impediment to national development. He called on all stakeholders in the education sector and the society to join hand and eradicate it.
Professor Muoboghare called for the reconsideration of the quota system in admission into public institutions of learning in the country because it kills ingenuity and destroys individual candidate’s creative intelligence.
He recommended that people should be treated on their individual merits rather than the local government, state or geo-political zone that they come from.