THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has been the chief driver of electoral reforms in Nigeria since former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Prof. Attahiru Jega as the Commission’s Chairman on June 8, 2010.
Apart from conducting elections in which opposition parties regularly won, Jega pioneered the Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC, and Smart Card Reader, SCR, which helped to make the 2015 general elections successful.
Apart from the instance when he was spotted wearing the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, “broom cap”, the many expensive inconclusive elections and the controversial 2019 presidential election that ensured a second term for President Muhammadu Buhari, Jega’s successor, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has equally been proactive in championing technology-driven reforms.
INEC remains a strong advocate of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, which Buhari vetoed a record four times with flimsy excuses.
Another sign that Prof. Yakubu’s INEC has striven to assert its independence was the firm implementation of the laws which ensured that the APC lost Zamfara State to the PDP after initially winning it through flawed internal processes.
To further minimise the influence of electoral manipulators, INEC is also at the forefront of efforts to ensure that electronic transmission of election results becomes part of the law guiding the future elections. The Commission has just introduced the online pre-registration of eligible voters. The INEC is already pushing for electronic voting. It has taken bold steps to procure no fewer than 200,000 electronic voting machines to cater for 176,846 polling units nationwide.
By these and other proactive body language and progressive policy actions, the INEC is sending positive signals into the system that it is willing, able and ready to rise above the pressures of the ruling parties and powerful officeholders to ensure that the votes of Nigerians count.
These reforms will ensure that the process of voting and result transmission are made easier, safer, quicker and more foolproof. INEC is moving away from the past where the Commission itself, due to the interests of the governments in power, was the most reluctant to respond to the people’s yearnings for reforms.
The 2023 general elections will be a great opportunity for the Commission to prove to Nigerians and the democratic world that our electoral umpire can no longer be pushed around by the powers that be.
Fortunately, Professor Yakubu has secured his unprecedented second five-year tenure.
The road is now clear for the Commission to give Nigerians a showpiece general election that will restore the faith of the people in the ballot box.
We look forward to a genuinely independent, highly professionalised electoral umpire which is above the pressures of incumbent governments and crooked political actors.