Folks as much as I am very optimistic about change and credible elections, I am not deaf nor blind to know that no FREE/FAIR elections can be conducted within 5months in any developing country.
In 5months to elections, we are yet to know those seeking and those not seeking elective posts, this is because some people are waiting for others to publicly declare their interest first before making a move.
INEC cannot be planning voter’s registration that would have taken over a year to sort out in barely 2months and we expect credibility from such exercise. Prof Jega is just one man, who most likely will be in Abuja or maybe another state on the day of the elections, how can he possibly control what he does not direct in a troubled country like ours?
Have people’s perceptions to corruption, fraud, ruling party, previous elections, uncaring attitude of elected officers and ineffectiveness of security personnel’s changed? The resident commissioners, Governors, party chieftains and their supporters that rigged the last elections were they ever prosecuted for their electoral crimes? The answer is a deafening NO!
In a technology-backward country like Nigeria that also suffers unfortunate poor infrastructures and statistics, how possible is it for this dream of credible elections to manifest in just 5months? Elections preparation is totally different from the attitude we employ in managing PHCN, NNPC and other government businesses. We keep making the same mistake at a very high cost, knowing that this “hurry-hurry” approach has never worked and will not work if elections are to be held in January 2011.
One don’t have to be Nostradamus or posses the intelligence of Paul the Octopus or that of Mani the Parakeet to know we will be dancing with the devil to think that credibility will be possible in any election registrations and voting conducted within 5months in a complex country like Nigeria where the INEC officers, the police and other law enforcement agents are highly compromised by default.
A credible election is not appointing the INEC chairman, and then bravo we think everything is sorted. Good intentions of one man will be frustrated when married with selfishness and greediness of other stakeholders. Within the newly composited INEC board no one can stake his/her own life to swear before any god that those men and women will perform their duties without favour or personal interest. So please let’s stop dreaming this dream that has every sign of a nightmare.
I preach about defending our votes, but what I have not said is that to defend our votes we need to first defend ourselves. One does not go to war without arms and expect to win a war where others bear arms of dangerous sorts. In a land where the police is known to aid and abet criminals, it is sufficient to advise people whose only weapon is the voter’s card to stay at home instead of being caught in a situation that may result to their last day on earth.
What must we do to prevent an impending disaster that awaits us? Mere intentions and rhetoric will not conduct credible elections without us dealing and tackling the root cause of the problem ab initio. The Electoral Act that has just been signed into law requires competent law enforcers to implement. The feasibility of conducting election in Nigeria within the next 5months can only be possible if we take the word credible out of the intention, here I suggest a shift in date.
This shift does not mean Pres. Jonathan will stay a day longer than 29th May 2010 in office. We cannot be talking about credible election where the just amended 1999 constitution is yet to be promulgated. All the issues surrounding the constitution must be done away with first.
We cannot have credible election where the law enforcement and the ruling party from every indication cares little about the feeling of the general public. All we see and hear is PDP vexatious zoning and how imposition of candidates by godfathers and Governor’s Forum will mark the process, as if to say we are under a one-party-system. The ranting of the PDP and its supporters has the same do/die resemblance of the sham 2007 “Elec-whatever” that was conducted.
A nation like Nigeria or any other progress minded country cannot keep wasting huge scares resources on voter’s registration every 4yrs for the same purpose achieving the same results. We need to get this voter’s register VERY RIGHT this time, election experts have long concluded that the process of electoral malpractice begins with faulty voter's register. I am convinced that Prof Jega in his solo moments knows very well that 5months cannot guarantee us credible elections. Why pretend then?
Let’s start thinking and acting right.
As Nigerians heal their land, may God bless Nigeria.