Wednesday, 15 March 2023 06:07

Presidental election 2023: Demonstration of craze - Ighodalo Clement Eromosele

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Ighodalo Clement Eromosele Ighodalo Clement Eromosele

The expectation by Nigerians of a free, fair, transparent and credible presidential election; the hope that results from the polling units would  be transmitted directly to INEC Result Viewing portal (IReV); the enthusiasm kindled in Nigerians, many, first-time voters to perform a civic duty of voting have all been eroded by processes characterized by multiple irregularities, foremost of which was the failure by INEC officials to transmit results for the presidential elections directly from the polling units in accordance with the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act and with the much publicized INEC election guidelines. INEC has arrogated the failure to do so as arising from glitches in the electronic systems. Yet, the results for the National Assembly Elections were transmitted by the same systems. This contradiction is befuddling and it is a trust deficit for INEC.

The relevant provisions of the Electoral Act in this regard are clear and unambiguous. Section 47(2) states: “To vote, the presiding officer shall use a smart card reader or any other technological device that may be prescribed by the Commission, for the accreditation of voters, to verify, confirm or authenticate the particulars of the intending voter in the manner prescribed by the Commission”. Section 60(4) says: “The presiding officer shall count and announce the result at the polling unit” Section 64(4) states: “A collation officer or returning officer at an election shall collate and announce the result of an election, subject to his or her verification and confirmation that the – the number of accredited voters stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under section 472) of this Act; and the votes stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under section 60(4) of this Act.

These provisions of the Electoral Act, amongst others, coupled with the assurances of INEC of their sacrosanctity underscore the enthusiasm of Nigerians at home and in the diaspora to partake in the election. The failure of INEC officials to transmit the results of the presidential election directly from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, has done incalculable damage to the sanctity of the process and the confidence in it.

In this regard, all manner of electoral malpractices were reported by main line media, social media and international observers, some of them dramatic, an affront on democracy nay ‘demonstration of craze’, to borrow a phrase from the late Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti on democracy in Nigeria. And now the compelling question: when will Nigeria come of age, away from primitive and infantile politics of the end justifies the means? In every contest, there must be a winner and a loser.

But the process must be transparent on the rules of engagement. When processes are compromised, perverted the outcome cannot be the will of God, but the will of man. The sixth Commandment of God says “Thou shall not kill”. Any willful killing of a human being by another is not the will of God. Therefore, the outcome of the presidential election with the plethora of manipulations so far reported cannot be accepted as the will of God.

This presidential election has exposed the weaknesses of badly managed diversities, the ethno-religious fault lines and the unresolved centrifugal forces which stand on the way to nation building. It is axiomatic that there are no shared values amongst Nigerians upon which to build national consensus. For a deeply flawed presidential election some Nigerians are content with the outcome and are quick to dismiss the perversion of the processes as irrelevant. They cherish the outcome only through the prism of their ethno-religious leanings and crude self-interest.

They are quick to recommend judicial intervention to aggrieved persons knowing full well the tardiness of our justice dispensation. So win election by any means and let the aggrieved go to court. This is a sad commentary on integrity of the judiciary in the perceived fait accompli in judgments. The PDP and LP have rightly gone to court to challenge the outcome of the presidential election. The record in the BVAS is crucial for the litigation.

The expectation now is that the judiciary will uphold justice on the subject of litigation no matter whose ox is gored. The results of the National Assembly election for which there was a semblance of compliance to electoral processes are a reflection of the changing paradigm in voters’ resolve to achieve effective representation.

The striking feature is that some governors were defeated by ordinary citizens in their bid for senate seats. This is a welcome development. Now back to the question, when will Nigeria come of age in democratic praxis? On this, one Senior Advocate of Nigeria aptly described the Nigerian Constitution as “a rotten document, nothing good can come out of it”. No doubt, in every facet of our national life, it is all motion, no movement.

The jostle for political power has never been for selfless service, but simply for prebendalism on the Nigerian State to the deprivation of the ordinary citizens. The question is: for how long will Nigeria continue on this unproductive trajectory? Answer: Nigeria must change its Constitution.
** Eromosele is a former deputy Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.

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