Prof. Jega, as a Scholar Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide Ahead of the 2015 National Elections, and what about these unanswered questions?
As this year comes to an end many Nigerians here at home and abroad continue to dream of free and fair elections in Nigeria in 2015.
Prof. Attahiru Jega, in his infinite wisdom, and as the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is convinced that he and his organization have enhanced preparations that will allow for smooth elections next year. As for jega, the trustworthiness and steadiness of any electoral system evolves overtime and could sometimes take hundreds of years, like that of America.
Jega tells us that there is now a better voter's registration, permanent voter cards have been issued, and all ballot boxes are now numbered serially. He noted that all these are new implementations that did not exist before 2010.
On a psychological level, assuming we now have a better voter's registration, and all ballot boxes are now numbered serially, these plans among others signal good news given that almost everyone dreams and wants to see integrity in the electoral system. These election dreams, however, may also contain some disturbances, in terms of predicting the future outcome of the 2015 election, the presidential race especially.
For some reason, some of us may start having scary dreams in light of Mr. Jonathan telling us recently to expect the presence of military and security forces in the coming 2015 presidential election, and others as usual may already be banking on the use of muggers/thugs and assassinations.
Jega, do you support the presence of overwhelming military forces as part of the security arrangements on election day manned with tanks and AK47-wielding soldiers in the streets? You must tell now!
Jega, couldn't the presence of overshadowing military and security forces as part of the security arrangements cause many voters to stay home, instead of heading to polling places and booths, resulting in a dismally low turnout? You must tell us now--How you will address this possible set back?
Sir, ahead of the 2015 general elections, with thousands of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) everywhere, what plans and arrangements do you and the Independent National Electoral Commission have that will enable IDPs to vote? And don't you dare say this “Na Oyinbo” or alien thing! You must tell us now--What exactly has been mapped out for this human rights concern?
As you know, we are currently in the pre-violence season ahead of the national elections. Election-related homicides have begun already with media reports of politicians being “shot dead” at either their residence or office. You must tell us now--What exactly has been done to reduce these vile incidents and how are you preparing to protect candidates from enforced disappearances as we are soon likely to see?
Jega, your concern about safety and disorderly attitude of politicians is pathetic, as this line of psychological acts is a longstanding Nigerian reality. Instead, your concern should be more about the bribery-conscious policeman and woman, and graft-addicted magistrate who, once in possession of tainted money, will make sure the perpetrators and defendants do not face appropriate justice. In other words, bribes will guarantee the safety of defendants. You must tell us now--What exactly will be done to reduce police/judicial and non-punishment of perpetrators?
Jega, ahead of the coming presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative elections in regard to the last national elections, list the number of successful investigations/prosecutions and convictions of fraud and other irregularities, including vote rigging and buying, under-age voting, and ballot stuffing, as well as cases of property destruction, security violence, political homicides and near fatalities. You must tell us now—How will we have some degree of assurance that election abuses and violence will be fully investigated and prosecuted so that justice will be served?
Sir, at various public and private hospitals, there are many injured victims of bomb blasts, firearms, knives and other forms of attack instruments. Some of these victims are survivors but still hospitalized; some of them have above-the-knee amputations. You must tell us now--What special ballot provisions and arrangements have been made to enable them to vote?
Across the country, the North included, there are eligible voters which include home-bound and physically disabled voters, and military members and their family members mostly in the troubled northern areas. You must tell us now--What special ballot provisions and arrangements have been made to enable them to vote?
Prof. Jega, it is questioned how the voting rights of thousands of persons will be safeguarded, especially as it relates to issues of angry mobs, suicide bombings, Internally Displaced Persons, those who are hospitalized and those with disabilities. Without specific safeguards, will not the sanctity of the entire vote be undermined?
There is no doubt that with some States under emergency rule and the presence of security and political-related crises, the outcome of the election nationally could be significantly affected. But making greater efforts to reduce several of these challenges could help support the argument that the results of the presidential, senate and lower house are, at a minimum, generally valid, and, with that, the hopeful result that the nation will not be plunged into further irreconcilable chaos.
Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic, Clinical and National Psychologist and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association.