Will Our Votes Count in 2015? By Mayowa Okekale
Recently, I found another word very interesting and disturbing, even in the political circle of Nigeria. While evaluating the weight of the word I was immediately bothered and restless until I put my pen to paper. 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.
I went further checking the meaning of the word vote, and according to my Encarta Dictionary: “it is the act of making a choice or stating a preference to determine the outcome of a particular thing”.
I practically cogitated on this meaning and still within me, some posers were raised. And I asked: have we been electing those who call themselves public servants ourselves? Do our votes count? Does it mean people only exercise their civic and constitutional right without any effect? Practically, this is to say that when votes don’t count, there is no credible election. It still boils down to a common question we ask annually: Can there be free and fair election? Can our votes still count? You know when we look at so many of the circumstances that surround the Nigerian polity, we can definitely deduce that our true democracy is always being hampered and attacked.
It is no doubt that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has severally failed Nigerians having 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.
Ideally, I don’t want to go into the details of MKO Abiola’s June 12, 1993 presidential election which was nullified by the then military ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. As much as I don’t want to delve into that, can I ask if there could be any other freest and fairest election in Nigeria? The problem with us begins from top to the downward. It is a general decay. At the federal level, our votes do not count. At the state level, same is the case. Even at the local government level where the grassroots government should be closer to the people, we still witness rigging and some other irrelevant developments that render our participation in voting meaningless.
We have the electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (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 there is politics everywhere. And wherever there is politics, there are manipulations, cheat, meanderings and maneuverings. 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. Yes, we need them.
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 that we can never conquer them; 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, missappropriation and corruption taking place here and there.
We can have another case that erupted in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) as a clear indication that majority votes don’t count. During the saga that broke up, based on report, 35 governors were present and voted, which there was even electronic evidence. The election later produced Governor Amaechi as chairman of NGF. But it was glorious that Amaechi Rotimi scored 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 votes no longer count? 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?
For Christ’s sake, 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 at heart.
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