Written by James Okere

2011: LETTER TO INEC1: Our late President, Alhaji Musa Yar’adua during his swearing in as President on 29th May 2007, publicly admitted that the presidential election that brought him in as President was flawed, that was humility per excellence exhibited by Alhaji Yar’adua.

His admission was before the numerous court rulings that nullified many election results declared by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ranging from Houses of Assembly, National Assembly and Governorship elections. The only election that was spared was that of presidential election where the Supreme Court ruling was on split judgment of four to three in favour of President Musa Yar’adua of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), over General Mohammed Buhari of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).

Still in connection with the conduct of 2007 general election, as at date December 2010, some Governors have been declared winner over the PDP Governors earlier declared winner by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). These Governors that the court gave victory include: Comrade Adams Oshimohole (of Edo State), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (of Ondo State), Dr. Feyemi Kayode (of Ekiti State), and Engr. Rauf Aregbesola (of Osun State).

Also following the election conducted by INEC in year 2007, election of some PDP Governors were nullified and a fresh election conducted. These states include Kogi, Adamawa, Sokoto, Bayelsa and Cross River States.

Even though the PDP Governorship candidates won the re-run elections, the fact established was that the election was nullified by the court, and history has recorded same accordingly. What transpired at the Governorship election stated above, also took place at the State Houses of Assembly elections, and they are all history.

However, following the death of our past president – Alhaji Musa Yar’adua, and the subsequent swearing in of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the President of Nigeria on 5th May 2010, President Goodluck has started the campaign for a FREE, FAIR and CREDIBLE election in Nigeria come 2011 general elections. At every gathering the president advocates same.

Recently, the president further demonstrated his belief for a free, fair and credible election when he called on Laurent Gbagbo of Cote D’ Ivoire to accept result of election body that declared the opposition leader; Mr. Alassan Quattara as the winner of the Cote D’ Ivoire presidential election held this November 2010.

In addition, our president Dr. Goodluck who is the Chairman of ECOWAS, led the body to support the declaration of Mr. Alassane Quattara as the president of Cote D’ Ivoire in line with the declaration of the electoral body as certified by the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

In Nigeria, issue bordering on elections and electoral body has remained very topical whenever election approaches. During the pre independence era it was topical. Also during the post independence era, election matters are discussed extensively that at the end of elections, losers would definitely challenge the result as declared by FEDECO, NECON, INEC as the case may be. In 1979, the presidential election result as announced by FEDECO was resolved at the Supreme Court between Alhaji Shehu Shagari of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).

One is aware that there is no 100% efficiency in man, even in machine, 100% efficiency does not exist. However, the manner elections were conducted and the result declared by the body established to do so must on content analysis be seen to be reasonably free, fair and credible before the citizens and the world.

But in Nigeria the recent elections conducted including that of 1999, 2003 and 2007, with the exception of year 1999 election which seem to be reasonably free and credible. This is justifiable because the number of electoral cases witnessed at the tribunal in connection with the 1999 elections were minimal. Those of years 2003 and 2007 were heavily marred by irregularities and in response to the electoral fraud in year 2003, immediately after the year 2003 elections, John Okwoeze Odey authored a book named “This Madness called Election 2003”.

Now that INEC is preparing for the year 2011 elections under the leadership of Prof. Attahiru Muhmmadu Jega, it is the sincere prayers of Nigerians in particular and the world at large that INEC will conduct a free, fair and credible elections.

Recently world leaders directly or through their representatives including USA, Japan, Great Britain, France etc, have consistently called on INEC to ensure that free, fair and credible elections are conducted. Also some Africa leaders including Ghana, Sierra Leone etc have also advocated same.

As at today, INEC have been receiving adequate support from Nigerians, Presidency and National   Assembly to enable her conduct free, fair and credible elections. The speed by which approval of about N87biliion was given to INEC on request by the National Assembly and Presidency attested to that.

Recently, INEC under the leadership of Prof. Atahiru Jega has been churning out novel and wonderful plans and programmes that would assist conduct a free, fair and credible elections amongst which are:

- Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NYSC authority to have NYSC members handle the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machine for voters’ registration.

- Announcing of election result at each polling unit and collation centers.

- Prosecution of electoral offenders.

- Prevention of multiple registrations by the use of DDC, hence double ballot paper will not be entertained. (see Saturday Sun Newspaper November 20, 2010 p.25).

In addition, INEC also has plan to use observers to officially and independently count the ballots alongside INEC officials which will enable INEC do a tally at all levels. The Observers result sheets will then serve as a backup. The essence INEC said is to enable INEC headquarters to use such result to cross check results as announced by returning officers. (See The Nation Newspaper, Wednesday November 17, 2010 – front cover).

Furthermore, INEC has given promise to mount cameras at trouble polling booths to capture what transpired at such polling booths. Also INEC planned to use civil servants for the election. In addition, INEC in the advertised time table of activities for 2011 general elections stated that by 25th March 2011, parties would submit names of party agents for all elections to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in line with section 45 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (see Daily Sun Newspaper Friday December 3, 2010 p.36). INEC has also planned to engage many civil society groups for the monitoring of the forth coming pools in Nigeria.

NOTE: The above piece published in December 2010.

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