As the state of the Living Spring goes to the poll to elect a new leader who will pilot the affairs of the state for yet another four years, in accordance with Nigeria’s Constitutional provisions, what prospect for a free, fair and credible elections?
The election comes up on the 22nd September, 2018.
The society appears to be on the edge, with people watching with keen but varying interests as voters in the South Western state file out to either maintain the status quo or make an emphatic change to the old order (outgoing order), and in the process embracing a different ideological orientation.
From Lagos to Maiduguri; Calabar to Port Harcourt, and other parts of the country, everyone has an interest in the choice of governor Osun seeks to throw up. This is also largely because whatever becomes the outcome of the election, being the closest crucial one to next year’s general election, the exercise would be used to gauge the subsisting mood and dispositions of the people towards 2019.
Like every other elections in the country, activities by various candidates and political parties billed to take part in the election, are in top gear.
According to reports, there are about 48 political parties jostling to field candidates for the governorship seat in the state but many of them are just in the race on paper because they do not have any significant presence in the state and their candidates are largely unknown especially to outsiders, though a few of the unknown parties suddenly came to life with the emergence of their flagbearers who had been key players in politics.
Electoral exercise in an ideal society, in this 21st Century, is supposed to be progressive-minded and not the other way round.
It is supposed to be an improvement on previous exercises. But sadly in Nigeria of today, the system which other nations of the world have utilized maximally to better the lots of their people, same have erroneously or rather deliberately been undermined, sabotaged and or abused with impunity – all for selfish and clandestine interests.
Day in day out, what political gladiators strive to achieve are, among other things, how to cut corners; how to undermine or circumvent acceptable norms and practices; how to enrich oneself at the expense of others.
In all of this, our sense of consciousness to national interest and survival have grossly been eroded. Individual interests have surreptitiously been placed far above collective, general interest. This has made governance particularly at the grassroots of no effect. This is simply because issues and programmes of actions that have direct bearing on the people are never given or accorded the kind of attention they deserve.
Going by feelers from past elections in the country, one cannot comfortably say that Nigeria has come of age, no doubt. There are still humongous voter apathy as far as elections in the country are concerned. Effective voters’ education is still a mirage.
For instance, a report showed that in the 2015 general elections, 68.8 million actually registered out of 180 million population. Out of the 68.8 million, only 43.7% voted, 3.3% accredited but did not vote while 53% registered but did not vote. Of course, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, there have been improvement on the number of registered voters ahead of the 2019 elections.
But whether there’s going to be improvement on the number of people that will genuinely participate (not the ones either forced or induced with financial gain) is a subject for another day.
Consciousness of the people in terms of mental alertness to elect leaders at all levels, the type that Nigeria truly deserves to turn her fortunes around, is grossly inadequate. This is the more reason why voters are easily swindled by Shylock politicians – for monetary gain.
The umpire, INEC, have no doubt promised to ensure free, fair and credible elections. One might be tempted to give the commission benefit of the doubt. But past experiences have shown that the commission is reputed for making make huge promises to douse every strain nerve. But when the elections are over, it’s always been a different ball game.
Same thing goes for the security agencies. The Police IG, Mr. Ibrahim Idris has vowed to ensure level playing field, and provide water-tight security before, during and after the election.
Of course, they are to protect voters, electoral materials and generally ensure orderliness and successful outing. But investigations have shown too that some overzealous security officials usually collude with politicians to pervert the course of elections. These have happened repeatedly, yet with no clear solution(s) to prevent future occurrences.
If the commission, and the government is actually serious about conducting free, fair and credible elections, the type can never be disputed, there are several technologies that can be deployed to achieve this feat. This can be achieved without having to declare holiday; without having to go through the rigours of enduring long queue (under rain or shine).
In fact, with SMS, National Identity Number (NIM), or any other modern method (Apps), a voter can vote from the comfort of his or her living room and the outcome will count. It will be more credible than the ones we are spending several billions of naira on – to provide logistics, security etc.
But people who are benefiting from the corrupt system will never allow that to work. The earlier these saboteurs know that corruption starts from here, the better. People should perish the thought that corruption is ONLY about stealing money. Abuse of office (when you as an agent of government fail to do your work), it is stark corruption; sheer corrupt tendency.
It is also interesting to know that Mr Segun Agbaje, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Osun, has stated that the Sept. 22 governorship election in the state would be credible.
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