2011 Elections, INEC & National Security
As the general election commences, Nigeria is on the path of history that will either confirm the 'leadership role' of her sovereignty in Africa or be further brought into opprobrium in the eyes of international community. Since 1999, we have passed through this phase which often ends in one disaster or calamity as 'flawed-election.' The 2011 elections assume a dangerous colouration with the alleged recruitment of Nigerians by Alqaeda, a notorious, fundamentalist group founded by Osama Bin Laden, world's most wanted man-a product of America's CIA.
Added to this phobia of violence are series of bomb blasts, assassination, gun-attacks and arson carried out by Boko Haram, a Muslim extremist group whose belief is 'Western education is a sin' side-by-side with activities of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group in the creek of Niger Delta that has lost direction in its fight for the people of the region.
Too many things are happening the same time and Nigeria is now the cynosure of all eyes. The electorates are angry, very angry at the uncoordinated preparation of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to give Nigerians free, fair and credible election.
So unprofessional and sad on the path of INEC are hitches in logistics, traceable to late arrival of result sheets. This was why the election meant for 109 seats in the Senate, 360 seats of the House of Representatives was cancelled mid-way and re-scheduled earlier for Monday(April 4) and later Saturday (April 9).
For Attahiru Jega, a man of unblemished character, an umpire of INEC, he must urgently admit to Nigerians that the commission has failed in giving Nigerians the desired election so expected, when viewed with the fact that all he required in terms of material and financial resources to conduct a credible election had been made available to him by National Assembly and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), even at the shortest notice.
Going by the initial timetable released by INEC to ascertain their unpreparedeness, the elections were originally billed for January, Jega screamed on the rooftop that he needed additional time to enable him conduct a-hitch free election. He argued then that 'If you take into consideration the timeliness that we have missed, we will not require less than at least an additional two months…If you want us to do a Grade A job, give us till April.' Without sounding immodest, it is easy for a discerning mind to say that Jega is being economical with the truth. It is more painful that the destinies of over 75million Nigerians would be toyed with in the most reckless way.
There are so many Nigerians, particularly the masses whose daily survival depends on the income generated per day to cater for the needs of their respective immediate families. To them, the cancellation of the Parliamentary election earlier scheduled for April 2 brought them suffering, untold-hardship, penury and regret, having had to queue for hours to elect new leaders, only for it to be turned upside down by Jega.
The situation becomes more regrettable when the INEC boss said that because election materials were not available in few states as Edo and Zamfara, the electoral agency had to shift the polls by two days, to get its act together.
To give credibility to his argument, he said 'You would have noticed that things have not proceeded smoothly as expected with the elections. The reason for this is the unanticipated emergency we have experienced with the late arrival of result sheets in many parts of the country. The result sheets are central to the integrity of the election.'
What becomes of artisans like welders, food-vendors, carpenters, painters and market women who depend on the sales made per day to feed their families to queue again on April 4, making it two days of financial-denial to meeting their families' need? It is tragic.
It would be recalled that Jega had earlier complained that the non-availability of 2011 Electoral Act could derail the election. Not to be blamed, members of National Assembly in a rush amended the bill, while the President quickly assented to it.
For credible election, Jega have collected in trenches various sums of N87.7billion and N6billion, yet there are discrepancies noticed in the ballot papers confirming that different printers were awarded the job, missing names during the last display of voter register, only for the commission to earlier say that these logistical challenges would be overcome within 48hours (from April2-4).
INEC has surely brought Nigeria on her fours and ridicule in the eyes of Western nation by its untidiness of the aborted Parliamentary election, which shatter the hopes of many foreign observers throughout the nation.
To Millions of Nigerians, the April 9 date chosen for the Parliamentarian election announced by Jega could not assure of credible election, except the 'bad eggs' in the commission who made fortune from previous elections in 2003, 2007 are wielded out of the electoral agency because 'if a leper is taken from one planet to the other, he remains a leper.'
Of a truth, this failure of the electoral agency has strong implication on the National Security of the country. In a country of 150million Nigerians where 75million electorate only showed interest in casting their vote in the 2011 elections, violence is often drawn on the path of ethnic region.
There is apprehension among the electorate that failure on the path of security agencies to pro-actively contain vices like ballot-stuffing, assault, maiming, killing and bomb-blasts could literally lead this nation on the destructive side of 'mass-revolution' of the people.
This is the time for security agencies to interface in intelligence-gathering and modern crime prevention to save Nigeria from avoidable catastrophe that could lead us back as a nation well-endowed by God.
Elijah Otumu, Editor-in-Chief, Nigeria Standard Newspaper.com, can be reached @