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Ondo election Nigeria must win too

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Akeredolu (middle). Photo: TWITTER/MRJAGSSS

If the level of preparedness of the stakeholders in the governorship election scheduled for tomorrow in Ondo is a consideration, the day should pose no threat to Nigerians.

The coming election will be a test case for consistency and transparency for the country’s election management institutions particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Nigerians expect nothing less than a peaceful and credible election just as we witnessed in Edo State the other day. Indeed, it is another election Nigeria must win too if tomorrow comes. 

Ordinarily, such an election, coming 21 years after an uninterrupted period of democracy, should not be of concern, let alone seen as a threat to peace and order. But the politicians contesting it has made no pretense about their desperation to carry the day, thus giving no room for the fact that elections will always be won and lost; and that the contestants must move on in the interest of the people.

What has been happening in Ondo State is an unnecessary raising of tension and crying wolf, designed to cast aspersion on the integrity of the election and thus create an avenue for dispute. This situation is unwarranted and antithetical to a genuine desire to serve the people of the state, which the contestants express. They ought to conduct themselves with full regard to the ultimate desire of the electorate, to be expressed through the polls.
 
Instead of throwing banters and antagonising one another, the gladiators should have been preaching free and fair election; and putting in place measures for an enabling environment to make that happen. More important, politicians in Ondo State should have spent more time in selling their political programmes to the people in concrete terms and assuring them of a remarkable turning in their lives should they (the politicians) win the election.

It is reassuring, however, that other stakeholder, INEC and the Police, have expressed readiness to counter foreseeable hitches – natural and man-made – that may arise in the course of the election. They must live up to their billings if the country is to have any hope in democracy as a form of government. For one thing, both institutions are not expected to perform below the standard they established in the recently concluded governorship election in Edo State. And for another, the Federal Government has displayed all inclinations to respect the will of the people.

While canvassing votes for Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, the candidate of All Progressives Party (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari promised free and fair election, stressing that all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that tomorrow’s election is peaceful, transparent, and credible. He also urged the electorate to come out in large numbers to vote, assuring them of adequate security to forestall any breach of the peace by unscrupulous elements.

And in support, the Police through the Inspector General, Mohammed Adamu, and other top officers have assured that they are on top of the security situation in Ondo to make the election devoid of trouble and any criminal plot. Similarly, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu called on all political parties and candidates to respect, support, promote and commit to peaceful elections signed under the auspices of the National Peace Committee headed by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retired).

Although politicians in Ondo have generated high tension on the election over the past weeks, the hope is that the authorities, particularly INEC and the Police, will perform creditably, having done so under similar circumstances in Edo State on September 19, 2020.  Both the commission and the police must reproduce whatever magic they employed in Edo to bear also on Ondo. In fact, Nigerians expect more from INEC, especially as we the people have seen the consequences of electoral impurities, especially since 1999. 

This time, INEC should work to ensure consistency in its performance, bearing in mind that inconsistency has been its bane over the years, thus failing to secure the confidence of the average Nigerian. It is on record that although it has not fully embraced digitisation in the conduct of its elections, the Commission has nevertheless partly used the system to convey some results in Edo. No doubt, the process enhanced transparency, and so can be re-enacted in Ondo.

Ultimately, there is little alternative to electronic voting and electronic transmission of the result, as a basic method of conducting elections in Nigeria. The country’s diversity, size, geographic configuration, and varied orientation of the people have all made it imperative for an instantaneous technology to be used in countering suspicions and biases among Nigerians.

Lastly, the electorate has a crucial role to play in coming out boldly to vote for candidates of their choice; refusing to be intimidated by unscrupulous persons, shunning vote-buying by politicians, refusing to be used to propagate violence, and making sure that their votes count in the Ondo governorship election. Eternal vigilance, as is widely proclaimed, is the price of liberty.  


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