The other side of INEC
Sir: The gold bars of criticism have been thrown at INEC especially from office contenders. Before elections, office-seekers and their bogeymen go to town using the media to accuse INEC of colliding with the opposite party to rig the elections. The crying jags of fake election results sheets rent the air with yelp for help and admonishment to the people to resist attempts by ‘Ghengis Khan’ to purloin their votes. INEC, it appears, is forever complicit – in the eyes of many, before every electoral contests. Governmental persons in Nigeria always lead such charge. Governmental persons against a government agency. It makes a mockery of our democracy if channels for complaints are only through media harangue, cursing, and threatening to open the gates of hell, “if false results are declared.”
I recall how a former governor – shouted himself hoarse against INEC and the president at that time, before his electoral victory for the second time. It is quickly becoming a strategy and fad. But when results are declared and they favour the camps of gloomy gusses – they sing swan songs to the Almighty Creator for victories without a word of thank you to the benevolence of INEC for ensuring a transparent process. Even though INEC was accused before elections of supplanting fake result sheets, same results announced supposedly on the fake results sheets were accepted by the other party,
It appears that INEC would only be appreciated in Nigeria if it satisfies the whims of politicians who want power at all cost. Anything short of that is a fraud. How then will the commission succeed? This piece is not to support the bohemian attitude of INEC staffers small enough to be complicit to write results in government offices like we heard in the past but the benefit of the doubt – before elections, should be extended to the commission – especially in a country where democracy has yet to be a culture and where protestations by governmental persons against INEC can and might be misread by some of their followers with abbreviated intelligence to unleash havoc on INEC staff members on electoral duty. Cases abound. Even in advanced democracies electoral commissions are never 100% eficient. Remember – George Bush and Al Gore? Recently, in the primaries for presidential nominee contests – between Clinton and Sanders in states of Arizona; Utah, Idaho, many voters were disenfranchised by the electoral commission.
One woman in Arizona complained that despite possessing a voter registration card, a registered Democrat, she couldn’t vote after having waited for five hours in line to vote, because the verifying computer system had her listed as an Independent voter, which is not allowed in Arizona. When she asked the officer to scan her registration card again, the system this time had her registered to the Republican Party. The voting delays were so unprecedented. The anomaly wasn’t corrected.
I saw on CNN provisional ballots brought to voting centers because the polling commission underestimated the voter turn out, how eerie, in a country with over 200 years democratic experience. In some Spanish-speaking cities with huge populations, English-only election materials were sent to the locale where folks struggle with a language that isn’t their first.
Voting in some places in the US today is still difficult. Some states were given the carte blanche by the Supreme Court the other day to determine their voting laws outside of the national Voting Rights Act which a coalition of civil rights groups is challenging sensibly without resorting to acts akin to that by the Wolf and Lamb on Aesop’s fable. I wish politicians in Nigeria can write in front of their houses when the going is good like late Engr. Fadeyi did( may God bless his soul), “Life goes on” and when things are in the reverse, the statement changes to “Hard life goes on.” The last is applicable when they lose elections. We can’t dance forever and success doesn’t always guarantee happiness.
• Simon Abah, wrote from Abuja.
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