By Ibrahim A. Dahiru
The 2015 elections are approaching and people are contemplating whether they can go and cast their vote or not because they are in doubt if electoral body will give them what they voted for, some years ago in one of his article in people’s daily, Professor Abdulrahman Udjor says election rigging is the major problem of Nigerian democracy, because no party is innocent in Nigeria whenever it comes to election rigging, check the local government elections that have taking place since 1999 to date, party that control the state been it PDP, APC, APGA or Labour party won almost 100% percent of the election, the outcome has been the same and that means something is wrong across the board and it is almost impossible to prevent this election rigging unless Nigerian get electoral process right.
I understand in every election there are two problems involved.First problem involved in Nigerian election is electoral commission, when president Jonathan named professor AttahiruJega as new chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after he fired professor M. Iwu, Nigerians began to jubilating with hope and confidence that, yes, we will get it right now, since an unionist and professor in political science will take charge the duty of the Nigerian electoral body despite that he took the INEC job when the commission has already lost it integrity, respect and confidence from masses due to electoral irregularities during 2003 and 2007 elections but now at least corruption, electoral mal-practice, electoral violence and other electoral crime will reduce even not been out from the system completely. we forgot that even the past chair was a professor and an unionist, in facts they even struggle together with Jega in the past as comrades and unionist for good university system.
The perception of Nigerians on electoral commission is, as it created in the constitution is expected to be autonomous and its officials above board, but in many instance, Nigerians have been saddle with an electoral body comprising mainly yes men and boot-lickers. This is why Nigerian electoral commission have over the years failed to conduct credible polls, therefore they should note that the inability to conduct a free and fair election has been the source of constant friction in the polity In must instance, electoral commission been it national or states are to blame because of their mishandling of the polls rather than be impartial arbiter. They take side in an election which should be fought between or among the parties. In the past Nigerian electoral commission have not discharge themselves honorably, they have defeated the concept of democracy which is, a government of the people, for the people, by the people, by their intrusion in to election, they deliberately rig the election for the party in power and do all what they can to ensure that opposition does not get a fair chance at the polls.
Despite the laws in Nigerian books which forbid political frauds, thuggery and other unwholesome acts in elections, Nigerian election commission are the exact opposite of what such an agency should be in any enlightened society but electoral commissions (national or state) are not run on their own steam, they are managed by people who are expected to make them function independently. Unfortunately, they have become an expansion of executive arms of government, this is because those appointed to head the commission believe that they must be beholden to the appointing authority even where they are not specifically authorized to do the president or governor bidding, they believe that they owned him a duty to do him a favour at the polls, if he contest or not, his party must win at all cost even if the opposition party are stronger than the ruling party. This is the kind of electoral commission we were saddled with in the past from 1960 to date but we will not be discourage by their mishandling of election, we are still have confidence in them with hoping that they will consider the wishes of masses and give them what they voted for in the coming election of 2015. INEC should revive its integrity in 2015 by saying no to election rigging and this is only possible when they avoid yes boss manners. But I have a dream this problem will be a history before 2015 and I have a dream INEC will revive it respects and integrity in 2015 election
The second problem involved is our politicians, Nigerian politicians sees election as a war not as a game in which the loser congratulate the winner in a sport-manlike manner after the election and that has been another sources of political thuggery and victimization of political parties opponents, election rigging, electoral violence, political intolerance, money politics, lack of adopted political ideologies, ethnics politics and identity politics. Now their political weapons are religious, regional and ethnic politics they seem all these three elements as a staircase to success, simply because they don’t have a political skills. i wonder why politicians act in such manner, political activity is on contrary, a far more universal phenomenon it involves disagreements and reconciliation of those disagreement and therefore can occur at any level, there is political intolerance and lack of politics, political betrayal and disrespect of agreements whether it is in written in their constitution or it is verbally they don’t care they will break it for their self-interest, they can move from one party to another in order to prevent exposing their dirty job in office, they collect money from opponent as bribe to impeached the elected governor of the state.
If some groups are barred from participation or made to feel that a particular political institutional framework is a means of frustrating their political demand, they may seek means of affecting change by acting outside the recognized political channels, illegal or unconstitutionally to promote violence or seize the power by coup d’état. But i have a dream these two problems will be a history before the 2015 election. however, I have a dream our Politicians are going to be born again, they will consider the interest of Nigeria as a country and Nigerians as a nation rather than self-interest.
Ibrahim A. Dahiru is a mass communication undergraduate at Bayero University, Kano