Posted by News Express | 29 September 2018 | 930 times
The Governorship election of Osun State has opened up the weakness of our electoral system. It is a signal of what to expect in States like Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Taraba, etc, which are regarded as battle grounds for the ruling APC and the opposition PDP.
My comments herein are based principally on the report of observers of the re-run election, especially the Situation Room of the Civil Societies, Foreign and Local Observers, who all monitored the election. I also monitored it on the social and traditional media.
First, the election has shown that INEC is not independent. The influence of the ruling party on INEC cannot be overemphasised, especially as it has constantly been trumpeted that there are many loyalists and relatives of the President, occupying very high positions in INEC. It is thus almost certain that in keenly contested elections, such as the Osun Governorship, INEC will be reluctant to declare a candidate of the opposition party, as the winner. Thus, the general view in respect of the Osun Governorship election is that it became inconclusive by reason only that the opposition candidate was leading.
Second, is the compromise of the security agencies, who all capitulated to the pressure of the ruling APC, to betray the people of Nigeria, to whom they owe their primary allegiance. With all the heads of most of the security agencies coming from a particular section of the country and loyal to the President who appointed them, it was obvious that they would act in deference to the ruling party of their Commander-in-Chief.
Third, are the issues of violence, vote buying, intimidation and harassment of voters, election observers and party agents. In some cases, some party agents were reported to have been killed, although there is no official confirmation of this. With the police and other security agencies under the control of the ruling party, it became easy to unleash thugs on perceived agents of the opposition party.
Now the seeming justification for this electoral pattern, is that the opposition PDP did worse when it was in power, as we can all readily recall the case of Ekiti, where security agencies swooped upon the opposition, militarized the entire State and virtually emptied the treasury, in a single election. Or is it in Rivers State, where thugs, cultists and militants took control of most polling booths, on behalf of the PDP then.
However, the expectation of Nigerians was that with the advent of APC, the country would witness some radical reforms and improvement, in our electoral system. In paragraph 2 of the APC Manifesto, the party had promised to:
“Strengthen INEC to reduce/eliminate electoral malpractices.”
As of the time of the Presidential election in May 2015, we were already moving close to eliminating the known electoral malpractices. Indeed, there’s been no known major upset from the Elections Petition Tribunals, in respect of the 2015 elections. So, our expectations had been that things would get better, but it has not been so.
The sad impression that the APC as a ruling party, and INEC as the electoral body, have both created with the Osun re-run election, is that we are back in the trenches, of the do or die electoral regime, of violence and of denial of the real will of the people, in the choice of their leaders. It is most unfortunate, to say the least.
It is a lesson that the PDP should learn, namely that when you sow to the wind, you will reap through the whirlwind; it is also a lesson that the APC should learn, that there is always a law of harvest.
As INEC has declared a winner already, I passionately urge all those that may be aggrieved thereby, to approach the Election Petitions Tribunal, to ventilate their grievances and eschew any resort to self help or violence.
It is however unfortunate that the President has not been able to improve upon the electoral system that brought him into office and it is totally disappointing that the APC has not kept to its Manifesto to reform our electoral experience, to birth a stable polity.
I call upon the National Assembly to rework the Electoral Act, in such a way as to strengthen INEC and take influence peddling, vote buying and violence, from our electoral system, as we move towards 2019.
God bless Nigeria.
•Erudite lawyer and activist Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, wrote from Lekki, Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com
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