I sat back today after taking my leave away from work in a neat Toyota Taxi as I made my way home. I couldn’t but help it as I heartily removed my ear piece to catch the gist been shared by my fellow passengers in the Taxi. If there’s any where you can get a good, catchy as well as exciting gist in Nigeria, apart from the saloon. The best place to check is inside the confines of commercial taxi across the federation. There you get all sorts of gist of different shades from either the passenger or the driver who is always eager to talk and engage their passengers in a g form of discourse either relevant or not.
Today it was not different as my fellow passengers and the drivers shared their mentally prepared notes regarding the conduct of the just concluded Gubernatorial Election in Ondo State. The bane of their discussion was centered on the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on how it managed the conduct of the guber polls.
I was taken aback to my utmost surprise as one of them made the bold and obnoxious declaration that the Independent National Electoral Commission was too fast in turning in the results of most parts of state which normally in previous elections in the state would have taken half a dozen hours to transport the votes from the respective polling units especially in riverine areas to the point of collection.
Unlike previous Elections there was a swift and fast transmission of results by the electoral body which helped them to be transparent, also giving them a credible outlook in the process. While this can be called an improvement, most misinformed People thought or insinuated that there were only shady elections there which enabled them to start and finish them manipulation attempt in a record time where votes were counted and a winner was declared within 48 hours.
Coupled with this, the relative peace and tranquility which followed the conduct of the election in both states is a testament and proof of the readiness of the Electoral body to re-write it name building it on the sands of credibility.
Previous Elections in Nigeria is one that is always characterized with various incidents of pre-electoral violence and conflict; the Election itself is always marred with various incidents and reports of rigging, Electoral manipulation, violence among many other social vices.
With the way and manner the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) carried out its activities in the respective polling units, the public have less to blame the electoral body. It’s amazing approach of using the internet as a platform to collate electoral results was impressive which gave everyone an access as all you needed do was to open the website, register and account to view these results.
Adding to this, it’s synergy with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) was a delightful sight as both entities worked together to reducing and putting to the barest minimum every factor that could mitigate against the will of the people in the electoral process.
International observers after the end of the Electoral process in both states were full of praise for the body which has over the years been noted for the opposite.
There are pure indications from the manner in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the two elections in each state that the electoral body is learning from its past mistakes and they are making obvious changes to correct this.
First was the success of the Edo State Gubernatorial Election which saw to the victory of Godwin Obaseki of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); many had expected that the electoral body built on the success and it achievements in Edo to ensure it conducted another free and fair election in Ondo State.
The expectations of them people were not dashed as the body rose to the challenge to ensure that it consolidated on their past achievements in Edo State.
While there are still many out there who do not understand the new modus operandi of the Electoral body which has added more value and credibility to their operations, the various media outlets will do a lot of good by going the extra mile to orientate people on the new template adopted by the body to ensure that it conduct a free and fair Election.
While we have established that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was at their best in the conduct of the elections in both states as they exonerated themselves from every factor that will mitigate against the will of the people then we must ask the question, what went wrong?
Did we really have a free and fair Election in both states as I have earlier explained in previous paragraphs of this article?
The answer lies in between the ranks of yes and a no, as the people who demanded for a free and fair Electoral process were the ones who compromised the results of the Electoral process.
The various political parties realizing how hard it will be for them to manipulate the Electoral process took to vote buying to influence the decision of the people which many succumbed to, allowing financial gains to compromise their conscience.
There’s little the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could do as the ones they sought to protect had thrown caution against the winds.
The electoral process was compromised not because of the inadequacies and ineffectiveness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free and fair Election but it was compromised as a result of the willingness of the people to sell their votes
The attention should be fixed on reforming our political parties from desisting from unwholesome approach in the conduct of Elections in Nigeria, the attention should be on the Electorates who are the ultimate decider of Elections in Nigeria, there is a need for them to adopt the cores and values of integrity and dignity which will see them crown the efforts of the various Institution created to facilitate a free and fair Election in Nigeria.
If we must progress and attain Electoral maturity, then we must collectively move and work together.
By Marcus Amudipe