Politics

INEC’s successes and challenges so far

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Political change and values interact with new patterns of industrialization and economic development. Both reinforce each other and produce materialist view of life. At independence and after, politics became an economic resource, a main ladder for vertical social mobility, and for creating and maintaining relationships. Party politics became a way of material acquisition and of achieving prestige and privilege without emphasis on obligation and duties.

The year 2015, despite its campaign shows and war being carried out by political parties, the debate over whether or not the election should take place as scheduled, is an ominous revelation of what the days ahead holds. Many political observers thought the outcome would be dangerous or in a second thought the lack of preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to carry out the elections. The campaign to postpone the election from some quarters was heard and election scheduled for February 14, 2015 was shifted to enable INEC distribute permanent voter cards (PVC) to registered voters.

The former INEC chairman, Professor, Attahiru Jega, who for the umpteenth time had assured Nigerians that there was no going back on February 14, which is a few days time from then. Since 2012, INEC has tried to convince Nigerians that the 2015 elections would be much better than the previous ones. Having claimed to have learnt bitter lessons from the 2011 elections, INEC had come to the realization that a truly free and fair election depended on credible voter card. When other complications beyond the distribution of 30 million PVCs are considered, it becomes imaginable what magic would be performed for a hitch-free election. Among other things INEC would have to grapple with logistics such as codifying and serial-numbering of documents, and list of voters which must be signed by representatives of parties.

It is also pertinent that Nigerians, politicians and the electorate consider the situation they would have to contend with in the election, the fact that the situation in certain parts of the country does not augur well for a free and fair election. Besides there are thorny issues that need to be resolved before the elections. Looking at the empty promises being relayed at campaigns, politicians would need to sit down and discuss the Chibok Girls, to iron out the modalities to push Boko Haram out of the country. What these possible scenarios foretell is that, the forthcoming elections transcend the intentions of the contestants and their parties. In the face of this uncertainty, INEC must allay the fears of Nigerians. If as it claims, election would hold as scheduled, then it must do everything possible to get things working so that PVCs get to the people.

Two elections have been held under the present INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu. The Kogi and Bayelsa state elections have been seen as an acid test for the newly appointed chairman. Political observers viewed the inclusive nature to be bad step. These have caused lawyers, political scientists to argue that Mr chairman may not be capable to handle general elections in the country. The fear is that the system will be thrown into anarchy. The supplementary governorship election in Bayelsa state on January 9, 2016 ranks as one of the major political events that would sharpen the election process in the coming year. The election which will hold in southern Ijaw, was just like the governorship poll in Kogi state last year, a spillover from the first ballot of December 5, 2015. Incidents of violence and ballot box snatching had marred the polls in southern Ijaw. As INEC grapples with the vagaries of Bayelsa election, it will also have to conduct two other governorship elections next year 2016. There will be elections in Edo and Ondo states, while Adam Oshiomole is the APC governor in Edo, Dr Olusegun Mimiko is PDP governor in Ondo state, political and social analysts have said that it would be keenly contested because the measure to which the APC wants to take Ondo State is the same PDP wants to take Edo state.

This is because both states belong to regions that both parties claim they dominate. The outcome of the polls would beam more searchlight on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has already been critized for being unable to conclude elections on first ballot.

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