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WOUNDED HOPE:ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA

Source: pointblanknews.com
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By Olisa Akukwe
Edo election has just been concluded, with the usual recriminations and

counter recriminations. The opposition party that lost the election,

characteristically refused to accept the result. And for good reasons!

Many of the election observers also reported unfair and opaque practices.

Edo citizens are still very divided.
But non of these are surprising. Critical national observers know that no

national and sub-national election in Nigeria has been free of rigging,

manipulation and compromise. It has only been of differences in degrees.

Whether it was the Shagari and Awolowo of the second republic, or Zik and

Balewa of first. Abiola and Tofa of third republic or even Tinubu and

Funsho Williams of fourth republic. All were not free and fair, in the

true sense of the phrase. I still remember that Funsho Williams was

leading in Lagos Guber polls after 18 LGAs were announced in 2003. Until

Ikorodu and Epe results, conveniently delayed, came in. Kuforoji, the main

political leader in Ikorodu eventually became Lagos Speaker.

The fact that political players who can compromise the system, do

compromise it is not incredible. The benefits are enormous. What is rather

amazing is that the people who bear the brunt of all these shenanigans

accept the results of these polls. And don’t even audit the process or

demand for credible improvement.
There are myriads of ways our polls are rigged. The most popular, but

actually least effective, is paying voters for votes. This was very common

in this last election.
There is also the unauthorized access to ballot materials, prior to

election. This is also common in Nigeria. And the general public don’t

realise how easily it can be done.
The there is the ubiquitous ballot snatching and stuffing.

There is the result hijacking enroute to collation.

Now that we use electronic voting machine for accreditation, there are

many ways it can still be rigged. Simply removing the battery and spare

for the machine in areas you intend to rig renders the machine useless.

And incident form is no panacea, as you can bring as many people as

possible to bear the names on the register and vote for you. This was done

massively in last general election, in many parts of the country.

The EVS can also be perviously technically tinkered with, so that it will

fail to capture some people. This is done in your opponent’s stronghold,

with stern instructions to your agents to insist on EVS being used. This

only leads to acrimony, and delays. The outcome is mainly the dispersal of

many potential voters.
A competent programmer surreptitiously employed, and given access to the

EVS can tweak the software for selected machines to be sent to your

opponent’s stronghold. There it will misrecord the registered voters, so

that total actual ballots will exceed the registered voters. Thereby

leading to cancellation.
And many more ways!
The purpose of outlining some of the rigging antics is to show Nigerians

we are supposed to demand post election audits! It’s not enough for losing

candidates to go to tribunal, with inadequate evidence.

However it will be more effective if we demand more dependable electoral

process. Many countries have faced this our current electoral challenges.

And found a credible way forward. We also need to. Nigeria deserves a

better electoral process.
We need a system that gives us credible outcomes. Such system should have

three qualities:
1. It should keep digital tallies of votes cast, stored in the hard drive

and memory card. This makes the result almost real time, and more

difficult to falsify at collation.
2 It should print paper ballot of the vote cast, and have a ballot box for

casting. The ballot is actually cast in a ballot box. It helps the voter

confirm that what machine recorded is what he/she voted. It is also used

for correlation of the digital result.
3.It should be able to have a memory you can’t alter. Similar to what you

find in Aircraft’s black box. This acts as a third safeguard. If the three

do not correspond exactly, you know there is compromise.

Such a system is already available, and being used in many countries

including Venezuela, Belgium, Philippines and Brazil.

The Venezuelan voting process is rated as one of the most efficient in the

world. It’s a simple system that embraces all three criteria mentioned

above, and has been adopted by Philippines. Results are almost real time.

And now voter turnout in these two countries are about the highest in the

world. Because credibility has been restored to their electoral process.

Nigeria needs same. The people need to start making credible demand for

the change we need. Our electoral process is still highly compromised. If

we don’t rescue it, we can’t start the journey to restoration.

It’s not just an,opposition party problem. It’s a national problem.

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