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Published On: Tue, Sep 23rd, 2014

2015 general elections: Will votes count?

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Residents gather to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in preparation for the 2015 elections

Residents gather to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in preparation for the 2015 elections

By Ochiaka Ugwu

2015 general elections are fast approaching. Some Nigerians have already decided who they will vote for, while some are not yet sure who to pitch tent with. At first sight, everyone is excited and looking forward to the potential positive outcomes of their voting. The media is also awash with messages from cross section of Nigerians who in form of endorsement urge their comrades to work towards a particular aspirant for a united and peaceful Nigeria.

However, others who are not too optimistic have questioned the rational of voting in the general elections since votes hardly count in this part of the world dismissing it as a wasteful venture that will amount to nothing at the end of the exercise.

Without mincing word, our dear country stands on the edge of the precipice. Our continued existence as a nation state is being called to question. There is no doubt that most country folks want so much for Nigeria to remain united as we have a lot to gain remaining one. But for those who refuse to see the hand writing on the wall which portends imminent danger if things are not properly handled in 2015, I have only one word: look before you leap. May they be reminded that that all the political upheavals we experienced this year will be a child’s play if we fail to get this one right. The massive deployment of soldiers and hooded State Security Service personnel to elections, the expansion of undersized Boko Haram against our mighty military are just direct consequence of faulty elections. The hide and seek game being played with the economy that has led and will still lead to strikes and more strikes is no longer fashionable.

After every election that is held, there is always the question of whether or not the votes were tallied correctly or is there corruption involved. I do find it interesting that there were votes thrown out and those votes could be a game changer for the election.

When we take a look at how voting activities have been organised in this country, we can all agree that many of our public officials are not elected based on the statistics of votes we cast. Yes! That is just the fundamental truth. We are also familiar with that slogan: ‘majority carries the vote’. Now, it is the minority that carries the vote. The minority influences election and appoints aspirants through rigging but not by votes.

Practically, this is to say that when votes don’t count, there is no credible election. It still boils down to a common question: Can we start in a clean slate by making sure that we have free and fair election in 2015? Can our votes count in the general election?

You know, when we look at so many of the circumstances that surround the Nigerian polity, we can definitely deduce that true democracy is always being hampered and attacked.

Opinion moulders have informed that it’s no use wasting time and energy voting. It’s an even more worthless risk protecting your votes when your life is no better than a chicken’s in Nigeria. The former National Secretary of the Defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Engr. Buba Galadima once said that all it takes to win a presidential election in Nigeria is for one to have the electoral body and the Chief of Army Staff on his side. According to Galadima, “INEC will declare you winner and the army will be on hand to arrest whatever protest that will erupt. Going by this statement of this great Nigerian, one may conclude that they don’t appreciate your voting, anyway. It was also suggested that the surest way to shock the government into the realizing that people are tired of over five decades of increasing falsehood is to let them record a low turnout of voters saying that Nigerians should not think that they are doing their country any good by voting.  To them, the right to vote was given to them for their sake, not theirs. Governments at all levels and with whichever party in power have always failed in Nigeria.

It is no doubt that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has severally failed Nigerians, and has even failed to tell Nigerians the challenges facing the agency. I mean, INEC should be interested in its challenges, and make efforts to tackle them to free itself from bungled elections and the threats they present to democracy.

We have the electoral body, INEC, saddled with the responsibility of overseeing elections; not ordinary elections. I mean credible, free and fair elections. But it is quite pitiful that today, we can no longer confide in our electoral agency. With this in view, it is literally obvious that there is politics everywhere. And wherever there is politics, there are manipulations, cheating, and manoeuvrings. These really are not what Nigerians need. They need people who can represent and fight for their interest. Quickly, we need people who can champion the cause of democracy.

There have been several irregularities and abnormalities which have always enveloped many of our socio-political and electoral activities in the country and many of these vices and depravities have appeared so insurmountable; they are really practical problems which should involve practical methodology to beat. Our leaders and managers of government agencies are to be questioned and scolded for the mismanagement, misappropriation and corruption taking place everywhere.

They have beaten the people to submission that elections will always favour the elite of the government, never the (talakawas). They have lost hope that any elected officer will serve them when they have nothing to offer because some will say that they bought their position and will serve those whose money sponsored them into those positions. They serve the interests of political godfathers.

one prospective voter voiced out that the people are not on their minds at all after they must have “fulfilled their civic duty” of voting and that is why they keep hearing the same campaign promises of good roads, potable water, security, education, food for all, and all such pipedreams.

A case in point was the drama that erupted in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) which was a clear indication that majority votes don’t count. During that election, according to media reports, 35 governors were present and voted. The election produced Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as the re-elected chairman of NGF, scoring 19 votes while his rival, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State, scored 16, a result that upset the pro-Jang group into seeking to set up an alternate governors’ forum. Is this not clear enough to say that votes no longer count in this country? So, if votes don’t count what should we resort to with a view to putting the people of our choice in the position of leadership? What is the essence of coming out for election?

This is a leadership saga which should not at all have been made known to the public. But there is nothing we can do when we have shameless leaders who run government based on their parochial interest.

“A case in point was the drama that erupted in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) which was a clear indication that majority votes don’t count. During that election, according to media reports, 35 governors were present and voted”.

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