Again, we can see the bloody consequences of lies, lies and more lies with the declaration of all political parties in Ekiti that they are not taking part in the rescheduled election of today! In the first place, why did Professor Jega say he postponed the polls on April 2nd? He said he did it because a handful of polling centres in some states didn’t have the result sheets, which he said were crucial. He said he took the decision to protect the integrity of the polls, in other words, the Modified Open Ballot system, which requires all elections for the same offices to take place the same day and results declared contemporaneously thereafter. He said these result sheets couldn’t be distributed to the places needed because some contractor was to blame; but that they were now in the country that morning awaiting distribution.
He apologised, took responsibility and told us the election will now take place on Monday, the 4th of April. Some of us felt this was a wicked lie! And we didn’t have to know exactly why the poll was cancelled and postponed to know it was a lie. The giveaway signs were all over the timing of his statement and actions preceding. From Wednesday, 30th of March to late Friday, 1st of April, Jega was doing the news rounds boasting about how prepared he and INEC were for the voting, declaring we are about to make history and extolling the efficiency and work ethic of his INEC. Why would he be doing this if, even at that time, he knew, as he ought to know, that crucial materials were still undelivered? Then on Saturday, 2nd of April, our dear Professor Jega waited for the voting to go on for three hours before jumping in front of the TV again to tell us he was cancelling what had gone on so far and postponing it till Monday, 4th of April! Okay, we all huffed and puffed and prayed he springs no more surprises.
But in less than 24 hours our Professor Jack-in-the-box was out there again on national television telling us he had consulted widely with the political parties, Nigerians and all stakeholders and that the consensus is that the election be postponed till Saturday, 9th of April and all following elections to be shifted accordingly for one week. He said all the elections for the various offices would hold the same to keep the integrity of the process. We sighed and grunted, but hey, let’s hope he springs no more surprises, we prayed. Then, on Thursday, 7th of April, two days before the rescheduled election, Professor Jega assaults us again with the news that 15 Senatorial Districts and 48 Federal Constituencies wouldn’t take part in the election on the 9th of April, but on the 26th of April! And his reasons? They have to print new ballot papers and materials to replace the ones used in the cancelled polls!
At this point, some of us began to ask more questions! What is the purpose of cancelling it in the first place if we are still going to come down to doing the election in this staggered way? Wasn’t one of the reasons, and indeed the key reason, for cancelling it to protect the integrity of the Modified Open Ballot system, so all elections for the same office hold on the same day? Now, that is out of the window in a jiffy and we are back to doing what should have been done the first day at lower cost! Rather than spend another scandalous sum reprinting used ballots and materials for all the states and up to the stage they originally participated, wouldn’t it have been more sensible and cost-effective just letting the April 2nd election go on in states with the complete materials and reschedule the ones without the result sheets?
And how about the consequences of this new turn? First, it is the best recipe for rigging, because it gives the potential riggers a leeway to know what to do to clinch the number they need to make their majority or whatever after 9th of April, because the battle for those remaining seats on the 26th of April has already been programmed to be a “Do or Die” affair! The loophole that the Modified Open Ballot system was to block has been exposed like a chicken’s rump in wild wind! Thanks to thoughtless election management by our very best, complete with a king’s ransom paid out to inept officials and crooked contractors! Then, the porous basket begins to tear further with this Ekiti scenario. Bombs are exploding, kidnappings are happening and the whole façade of a free and fair election is as exposed as a rabbit caught in headlights!
The lesson for Nigerians here is obvious. If you leave what you need to do today for another day or you give failed politicians and their appointees the benefit of doubt one time to many, you will be shafted as many times as they wish! The moment the National Assembly and Jonathan with a sleight of hand threw out Uwais Recommendations to appoint Professor Attahiru Jega to the Chairmanship of INEC, rather than allow the National Judicial Council to do it, that should have been our cue for electoral activism! But no, we sat there and prayed for “free and fair election” because a President looking to pull the wool over our eyes has promised it! The rain that has been beating us since 1960 and that nearly drowned us in 1993 is still beating us, but who cares! Who wants to know when the rain started beating us when we have a pretend democracy and all manner of godfathers strutting around at our expense to the deafening sounds of rented crowds and raucous rankadedes? Of course, we are in now for another long night! But whatever the future holds, I say let Nigerians come out now and do what they can do in the circumstances! The only thing we need to know now is that we need to lower our expectations and pick up the pieces thereafter! Hopefully, we will learn from this one and begin to see that our answer as a nation lies in how well we the people take seriously our duty as the directors of our own fate! Acting helpless all the time is a sign of collective stupidity! It must end now! This must be the last shafting of the Nigerian! The power is in your hands, in your votes! Pull that rope and get your nation off the brink!
Below is the news item the above comment is based on:
Political Parties Reject Staggered Election In Ekiti
Warn INEC Against Holding Election Today
ALL the political parties participating in today’s National Assembly elections in Ekiti State yesterday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone them to April 26, arguing that they were uncomfortable with the staggered polls.
The INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega had on Thursday announced that elections would not hold in the three senatorial districts in the state and some federal constituencies of the House of Representatives, citing the shortage of materials and non-printing of a political party’s logo on the ballot paper as the reason for the postponement.
Indeed, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Alhaji Hussaini Pai had earlier yesterday said election would hold in only six of the 16 local councils of the state for the House of Representatives. He said both sensitive and non-sensitive materials had been posted to those local governments.
But at a stakeholders meeting held yesterday evening at the police headquarters in Ado Ekiti, which had in attendance the state Police Commissioner, Sabo Ringim, other security chiefs, Pai and representatives of the eight political parties to participate in today’s election, the parties bluntly refused to accept the position of INEC to conduct staggered elections in Ekiti State.
A source at the meeting said with the refusal of the parties to participate in today’s election, the REC was said to have communicated the parties’ decision to Jega who said they should put their decision in writing and sign it.
The source said a letter was jointly written by the representatives of the political parties and signed immediately in the presence of the REC and security agents present at the meeting and it had since been forwarded to INEC office in Abuja.
Those who signed the letter included the chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, Chief Jide Awe, and his PDP counterpart Chief Bola Olu-Ojo. Others were Tunji Ogunlola for ADC, Mr. Ashaolu Akinlola NRP, and Mr Francis Ibitoye of NCP.
The state REC Alhaji Pai said he could not say anything until he received a response of the letter he sent to INEC headquarters in Abuja about the decision of the political parties in the state not to hold election today but he affirmed the preparedness of the commission to hold election in the six local councils which, are Ise/Orun, Ekiti South West, Ekiti East, Ikere, Gbonyin and Emure.
But Awe and Bola Olu-Ojo who jointly addressed the reporters after the meeting said they were not expecting INEC to go ahead with the election since all the parties fielding candidates have agreed to hold it to April 26, when INEC would have all materials ready for the election. They also argued that since there would be no gubernatorial election in the state on April 26, it would not be too difficult for the electoral body to hold both the National and State Assembly elections.
They warned INEC against doing anything against the interest of the stakeholders because they had instructed voters not to come out today for any election.
According to Olu-Ojo, “We don’t want to cripple our candidates financially and that is why we say no to the conduct of this election. We don’t want them to spend money on election twice and that was why we signed the agreement.”
Awe said: “Since there is no governorship election in this state on April 26, we have decided to shift the poll till that date and that was our humble request from INEC.
“All the visible political parties in this state have signed so that there would be no breakdown of law and order in this state tomorrow due to influx of the people into the area. And I want to assure you that the commission will meet nobody on the field if it goes ahead tomorrow to conduct the election.”
Awe described the alliance among the political parties at this moment as “the spur of the moment, adding that whatever actions the INEC takes outside the agreement is a nullity.