The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian recognizes that we are created equal and endowed with the sacrosanct rights to representative government among others. The decision of the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) to use the rigged voters register that was declared void by the appellate court is not only beyond human comprehension, it is also insane. It glaringly calls into question the impartiality and competence of INEC as the rerun looms.
The 2007 Delta State governorship elections showed what is wrong with elections in Nigeria. INEC was unable to tender or plead voters register that was used in the election.
To substantiate the claim that there is no credible voters’ register in Delta or anywhere in the country, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in a recent press statement, stated that, “the CD-ROM that INEC reluctantly released to the opposition parties (in Delta) three days to the election of April 14, 2007 was found to be blank, when downloaded.” The ACN went on to state that “a second CD-ROM, which was belatedly released by INEC as the authentic electronic version of the supposed Delta State voters’ register, when downloaded was so fraught with discrepancies that the Court of Appeal annulled the register in 14 out of the 25 local government areas …Therefore as of today, there is no credible voters’ register in Delta State.”
INEC is aware that Delta Central Senatorial District voters register was bastardized in the 2007 elections, thereby denying about 5,000,000 registered voters the right to vote. It is also common knowledge by the Jega-led INEC that thousands of voters from this region were maliciously placed in the Northern Senatorial District voters register.
During the recent Chinua Achebe Colloquium sponsored by Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, United States, the writer asked Professor Attahiru Jega the rationale behind using a rigged voter’s register to conduct an election that was declared void. His answer was that the register will be “cleaned.” I don’t know what that means. Representative government can only be possible where people have the right to vote with the aid of a credible voters register as against cleaned voters register.
Representative government can only be effective if its citizenry can hold it accountable for its actions and by their obligation to participate in the fundamental processes of democracy, such as developing an understanding of how democratic government functions and going to the polls to vote among others.
Voting is fundamental in a democracy. It is how citizens directly get involve with their system of government by electing representatives. Deltans should not be bludgeoned into accepting an exercise that has been tempered with from the beginning. INEC should TAKE NOTICE that Delta State should not be used as “How to Rig 2011 Election 101.”
This election is an endorsement or rejection of the principles, policies, and institutions that are created to advance freedom, political equality, educational and economic opportunity for all Deltans. This election will also provide an opportunity for citizens to register their criticism of how government principles and policies are being implemented.
The need for a new voters register in Delta State is now and not January 15, 2011 after the rerun election. Delta State is as equally important as the rest of the country. If INEC cannot carry out voter’s registration process now, then the election should be postponed until it can do so. To do otherwise is a cruel mockery of due process and an insult to the peoples of Delta.
Felix Ayanruoh Esq.