Ekiti And Osun Elections: The Lesson From Indian By Erasmus Ikhide
NIGERIA will continue to amuse the world as a country so abundantly blessed but so much more debased by its handlers. Being on a terminal decline in all fronts as a result of blatant ballot rigging – due largely to polls sabotage and other premeditated crises – we have remained firmly in the comity of misgoverned nations.
Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party has formally took over from Manmohan Singh, the incumbent, of the Indian National Congress, as India’s 14th prime minister, following his electoral victory a few days ago. The success of Indian’s election is unique and it is a great lesson to Nigerian’s electoral body. But the greatest lessons in all of this goes to the Nigeria populace who, often times, allowed ethnic and pecuniary sentiments to cloud their sense of permanent national economic development.
Apart from amplifying the sanctity of the sovereign will of the people in a democratic society, the election made the loudest statement that a people can throughly resolve to inflict the worst political injury on any self-dispossessed political party that gloat over the welfare of the people. The opposition BJP defeated the ruling Congress party, winning an absolute majority of 282 out of 543 seats.
It’s truly sad that even all the Africa countries, including the war-tune nations are 20 years ahead of Nigeria in terms ballot sanctity. This is another lesson for us: If Nigeria gets its electoral process right, it will certainly and in due course gets its development governance right, ultimately. It is a sine qua non, an indispensable condition or element of democratic governance that propels and transports participatory governmentality.
The Punch Newspaper’s editorial was unequivocal about this a few days ago when it asserted thus: “Through years of persistence, the South Asian country has got to the stage of telling the world that, with painstaking planning, and commitment on the part of all the stakeholders, it is possible to hold free, fair and acceptable elections in a developing country that can compare with what obtains in advanced democracies such as Britain and the United States of America.
“Religious and caste-related violence, ever present even after the violent breakaway of Pakistan at independence, has often shaken the country to its foundations. Assassinations, riots and occasional armed insurrections have tested the ability of the diverse peoples, sects and faiths to stand firm as one nation. Sikh separatists murder Indira Gandhi and her son, Rajiv, who were INC leaders and prime ministers. Add to these Maoist insurgencies, violent separatist rebellion in Jammu and Kashmir, and unresolved territorial disputes with China and Pakistan and terrorism, financed and nurtured by its arch rival, Pakistan.
Through it, the INC has managed to hold on to power for most of the country’s 67 years of flag independence, except for brief periods when BJP and others won slim majorities”, the editorial reads
Beyond that, the Indian election spanned through a period of one month with stone-caste perseverance and utmost determination from the huge voting population of about 814 million eligible voters, where 551 million people voted, in a country that boasts over 1.2 billion population. Nigeria and Nigerians can never be excused on the ground of population, ethnic or religious divide as the reasons for the failure of the democratic or electoral crisis. Indian – to its credit – is the largest or biggest democracy in the world with the highest ethnic, religious and population concentration, with multiform interest groups.
The earlier we come to the realisation that corruption and blind loyalty to the appointing authority is at the heart of INEC’s failure, the better for us than to beginning to imagine ourselves as victims of some apocalyptic conspiracy. The truth is that no nation can be greater than the sum total of the contradictions that attend the institutions of state-becoming. If corruption and blind loyalty is ruining and plaguing INEC and the president of the country deadens his attention to it, what else can we say?
A few months ago President Goodluck told a bewildered nation that corruption is not Nigeria problem, just the same way General Yakubu Gowon, former Nigerian Head of State, asserted to the whole world once upon a time that money is not Nigeria’s problem but how to spend it. General Gowon left a vanquished nation in dare need of his three purported ‘R – Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation after the genocidal civil war.
There is need for introspection. Why has Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not put its house in order till date if corruption was not Nigeria problem as proclaimed by President Jonathan? Why has INEC not brought its member of staffs to justice who have been conniving with electoral predators since the beginning of the Fourth Republic?Why has the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC not overcome all the malfeasance and fix the polling infamy over a period of 15-year? Why has INEC not bring to justice electoral criminals who trampled on the voters’ will in every election since 1999?
Nigerians assessments about electoral redemption would has been positive if all the grand positive preachment of the Commission have had the merest of good intention to right the tendentious wrongs INEC have been afflicted with. We have all agreed it’s about time we develop our own public polling industry, but the present INEC as constituted does not seem to be averse to it. It’s clear that Nigeria’s future looks bleak and completely hollowed out except INEC in its wisdom assuage the affronted citizens and conform with modern days conduct of elections.
Nigeria’s democracy, as chaotic and flawed as it is, gives room for transformation; it is only that INEC’s response has been disappointingly lacklustre. 15-year down the democratic road, INEC insists in its ruddy state, even as Ekiti and Osun voters head to the polls for election that will determine the fate of the country beyond 2015. Prof Jega has a daunting task in convincing the two states that he is leading a renewed INEC that is prepared to give the electorate chances to election those who govern them.
Granted Nigerian’s democracy is not perfect, and nor are the leading candidates in the two states elections. The same, however, can be said for most democracies across the globe. Therefore, it is not a forgone conclusion that even though the electronic card readers were inserted into the voters cards that it would amount to flawless polls; it will only prevent massive and physically concealed fraud. If nothing else, it is certainly worth celebrating to see INEC harkens to the calls and its earlier stance to go scientific in the conduct of the country’s elections.
Prof Jega who moonlights for INEC need to note that the country is at a critical stage where the activities of the Commission can make or break it. INEC has to make hard choices.
Any careless handling or less of creativity on the part of the body can easily plunge the nations into chaos. This feat is possible if Prof insisted on retrieving his self-possession.
The people of Ekiti and Osun will not condone the shuffling of psychopathic political criminals deserving long spell in the jail as Governors of their states.
The people reserve the rights to chose between rascally criminals and concrete development, experience and granite integrity. INCE has to work hard to reassure voters that the elections will be credible; free, fair and transparent than the previous ones.
Erasmus Ikhide wrote in from Lagos, Nigeria.
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