Yakubu’s INEC and the changing face of democracy
Sir: Electoral bodies in a democratic dispensation are known for engineering citizen’s hope and play significant role in conducting free, fair and credible election between the contending parties and ensure the people’s mandate is not jeopardised. This institution in Nigeria – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – was characterised for gross disappointment and failure to conduct the said type of election acceptable by the majority. Coupled with the heavy presence and political partisanship of the security personnel during elections. The people’s fury on the institution dates back to the era of Prof. Maurice Iwu that in 2007 conducted the most fraudulent, rigged and unacceptable election in Nigeria which was condemned by both local and international election observers.
INEC regained public trust in Nigeria during the chairmanship of Prof. Attahiru Jega in 2015 general election that led to the defeat of an incumbent president, the first of its kind in Nigeria’s democracy. The election was widely accepted by both local and international election observers. Once Jega’s name is mentioned, it usually evokes wistful feelings of credibility due to the historic 2015 general election. The present INEC leadership is nothing other than puppeteer of the government. And, this has thrown a great threat to our democratic consolidation as a country. The major issues from the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states are that the election was marred by thuggery, ballot box snatching and the presence of heavy security forces specifically targeted at the opposition.
This is not the first time political thugs violently disrupt elections but security personnel and the INEC just watch because their sponsors are obviously above the law.
A fearsome electoral body that lacks the grit it takes to prosecute the disruptors of election cannot buy the trust of the public, hence, will continue to fail to conduct the much needed free and fair election.
Meanwhile, according to the International Centre of Investigative Reporting, the total votes recorded for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State shows that the incumbent Yahaya Bello has won the Saturday’s guber election but the number contradicts the summation of the votes count from each local government area. Final score announced by the INEC for the APC is 12,682 higher than the actual votes cast and counted. This represents 3.2 per cent surplus in favour of the ruling party. This means Nigeria has gone back to the darker days of rigging and subverting the mandate of the people through the use of political thugs and violence.
The Police Service Commission’s comment after the election incredibly accepted that “the activities of illegal armed men over-stretched the capacity of police officers to protect the voters and the electoral materials.” This is because, before the election INEC has told the whole world that is ready to ensure the conduct of free and fair election. Therefore, INEC should dance in accordance with the people’s interest and salvage our democracy from imminent dying.
Rabiu Musa wrote from Kano.
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