January 16, 2023

INEC should rein in its staff (1)

INEC should rein in its staff (1)

What initially appeared as mere allegation may have started taking a semblance of truth as indications continue to unfold that some staff of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, are actually working hand in glove with some politicians to rig the 2023 general elections.

Since the Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, collection exercise began on January 6, 2023, there have been complaints in some quarters that people of some ethnic groups and perceived supporters of some political parties are deliberately frustrated by some INEC officials from collecting their PVCs.

One of those complaints came January 10, when an inter-faith group raised the alarm in Abuja that some INEC officials are not giving some people their voter’s cards because they are perceived to belong to some ethnic groups, or supporters of some political parties.

But rather than take some forthright steps to stem this, INEC, it appears, has chosen to hide under the escapist admission of the possibility that some of its staff members have been compromised, therefore cleverly exonerating itself as a body.

Moreover, each time INEC talks about this ongoing fraud, it uses the annoying word, “alleged”, forgetting that media practitioners are also among the many disenchanted registrants struggling in the crowds to collect their PVCs.

The personal experiences of journalists at the PVC collection centres have been recounted on the pages of national newspapers in the country, representing a tip of the iceberg of the horrifying trauma many Nigerians go through to collect their PVCs.

Indeed, since the collection was officially announced, it has reportedly been frustrations galore for millions of Nigerians who sweat for hours and sometimes days before collecting the cards, it at all. So, describing these occurrences as ‘alleged’ does not hold water.  We therefore make bold to tell INEC that this whole thing has left the domain of allegations. They should be treated as facts!

In Lagos State, there are confirmed stories of electoral wards where PVC collections are made so difficult, presumably to discourage owners of those PVCs. Dubious politicians have been reported as bribing some INEC officials to disenfranchise voters at locations or states where they know that people will not vote for them.

While INEC comes to the media to announce that people are not coming forth to collect their PVCs, many of those who turned up at some collection centres are being frustrated by some other INEC officials. If INEC’s claim that people are not coming to collect their PVCs is true, what are those crowds of forlorn-looking people we see at collection centres doing there?

Similarly, if INEC’s claims that the perpetrators of these frauds are the few bad eggs among its staff, what actions has the Commission as a body taken against those so-called bad eggs?

Without mincing words, taking actions is the only way people can be convinced that INEC has not been compromised. That is the only way the Commission can regain peoples’ confidence. Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to have been done.