The European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) to Nigeria in its final report on the February and March 2019 polls, stated categorically that there was need for serious electoral.
In the same vien, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) also in its report said it had become very imperative for Nigeria to put in place measures that would help strengthen the electoral reforms system.
All the groups in their findings observed that the elections were characterised by acts of violence, intimidation, arrests of opposition party members, electoral officers and in some cases outright killings of opposition members and electoral officers by agents of the Federal Government, the Army and Police.
According to the observer teams, the 2019 general elections fall far below international standards and even below the 2015 elections which brought the present administration to power.
It then recommended that if Nigeria was to get it right, there was urgent need for national dialogue across party lines and that INEC should also thoroughly investigate and prosecute election officials who engaged in electoral offences.
They also asked the police and military hierarchy to investigate and sanction security personnel who violated the rules of engagement during the elections.
Basically, patriots who really care for the future of this country, called Nigeria will continue to be worried that despite the country’s almost 60 years of independence coupled with the experiences garnered in conducting elections, Nigeria is yet to get it right as electoral abuses get either more sophisticated or downrightly crude.
The harrowing experience a lot of people went through in some states and communities during the presidential elections did not give would-be voters much confidence that they will not be beaten, maimed or killed, that was why there was voter-apathy in subsequent elections, so the elections observers were not wrong in saying that there was an urgent need for reforms not only in the electoral process but also in the security aspect of the elections.
Although the reports are advisory, but they go a long way in ensuring that those who have listening ear to begin to question themselves over what went wrong and how to prevent those ugly incidents from re-occurring.
In 1999, the elections were generally peaceful but with few litigations and violence. Subsequent elections however were not so, with the 2019 election being described as the worst as some communities were even placed under siege.
A lot of questions need to be asked based on the election observers’ comprehensive report. One of such questions is whether a ruling party at can be trusted to conduct a free, fair and credible election without intimidation of opposition figures or the Judiciary.
What of the security agencies, what can we do to insulate them from being partisan during elections? All these question need answers and it behoves those at the helm of affairs at the top to live by example, obey judicial pronouncements and play by the rules.
It is only when we have a strong legislature; judiciary and an independent thinking security apparatus that there can be the rule of law and enforcement of court orders. Otherwise if the centre continues with the old ways of doing things, no amount of electoral reforms will bring anything positive in Nigerian body politics.
The average Nigerian politician is never a democrat. There is always this dictatorship tendency in them. Just check out the activities of most elected executives, be they presidents or governors. None of them really likes being criticised or losing out on elections or issues.
Until we curb or jettison some of these negative tendencies elections in Nigeria will continue to witness acts of violence across the country.
Even the Independent National Electoral Commission agreed with the submissions of the election observer teams and informed Nigerians that it had already embarked on its own internal review mechanism to check what went wrong and find possible ways of preventing future occurrence of some of the shameful acts which took place during the polls.
The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Yakubu Mahmoud, said the recommendations provided by the election observer teams would form major inputs in the areas of reform expected to be submitted to the 9th National Assembly. But to some analysts, until there is the will to properly implement recommendations no matter the good intentions of INEC, a ruling party can still circumvent the law as election in Nigeria is seen as a do- or-die affair.
For us to get it right once more, it is only the voter population and the executive that can make true democracy a culture in Nigeria. The executive should start implementing or obeying lawful judicial pronouncements. Except that is done, for the next 20 years, we will still be running in cycles, still waiting for reports from foreign bodies on how we bungled our elections.
INEC should continue to do its part by preparing right now for the 2023 elections by ensuring that it takes cognisance of its past mistakes and work out modalities on how to ensure a hitch-free election in the future.
One of the excuses it gave was that the large number of political parties created a lot of logistic problems. According to the commission, something has to be done about the 91 political parties because they are on the high side and if the country is to organise a very successful election the numbers have to be pruned down.
But this excuse is just an afterthought because how come India with a voting population of about 960 million and 2,293 political parties get it right while in Nigeria it is always a nightmare?.
The challenge we face as a country is that we don’t think ahead of possible problems that mustcrop up and end up using the fire brigade approach to solve issues that might have been thought of and prepared ahead.
However, from reports across, INEC is reviewing its performance and when finally it has fully assessed itself and taken into cognition its shortcomings, it will finally put its act together.
The problem of election management does not solely, rest on the shoulders of INEC but also the political class. Our politicians should stop behaving like Area Boys and professional agitators and learn to be winners and losers this is because after 60 years of independence part of the legacies we should bequeath to the younger generation ought not to be ballot box snatching election rigging, violence and dictatorship.
Nigeria is greater than that.
Huge Cost Of NASS Maintenance Worries TUC
Rivers State chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has called on the Federal Government to reduce the costs of governance in the country, noting that it cost the country billions of Naira to maintain the National Assembly alone.
The State TUC, chairman, Austin Jonah who spoke when he appeared as guest on a live Radio programme in Port Harcourt monitored by The Tide stated that the cost of governance in Nigeria is very expensive and not attainable.
Jonah further said the federal government will have enough funds to pay the minimum wage when they reduce the salaries and allowances of political office holders.
“Look at the welcome pack of the National Assembly members. N4.6 plus billion for accommodation and furniture. A Senator is going home with about N10million, while the member of House of Representatives is taking N9million plus.
“If you calculate with 360 persons in the House of Reps, plus 109 in the Senate, that is about 469 people and they have severance gratuity. They have so many things they are going home with plus their salary. You see, if you look at governance and cut down expenditure in governance this money, they have already taken the money that are talking about.
“They have taken it in the sense that they want to increase communication tax, such as that every call you make you pay tax, sms you pay tax, data you pay tax and even cable Television,” Jonah lamented
The State TUC chairman said what the labour union negotiated with the Federal Government was not the minimum wage but consequential adjustment.
“What we were negotiating was the consequential adjustment. Now from N18, 000 to N30, 000, the difference is N12, 000, which is 66 per cent. That 66 per cent was what we negotiated. By right we are not supposed to negotiate.
“If you trace the history of minimum wage in Nigeria, it started in 1981 during the Alhaji Shehu Shagari Government. Whenever you finish with minimum wage, the consequential adjustment is based on the percentage of the difference.
“The first minimum wage presented by the NLC was N300, but at the end of the day N125 was agreed,” he said.
NASS Promises Better Funding For Nigerian Army
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume and his House of Representatives counterpart, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, have promised to ensure adequate funding for the Nigerian Army in the 2020 budget.
They made the promise on Saturday in an interview with newsmen during the Passing Out Parade (POP) of 78 Regular Recruits Intake at the Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State.
They said that the army needed to be adequately funded to be able to effectively tackle the prevailing security threats in the country.
Ndume, who agreed that the N100 billion proposed for the defence in 2020 budget was inadequate, said that the committee on army was looking at how to help to enhance the funding.
He said that the national assembly was aware of needs of the army that needed to be provided to enable its personnel to perform their duties effectively.
“We are going to do something despite the fact that the resources are scarce but security is first and everybody has agreed to that.
“We are looking at the budget critically to place our priorities right so that the right things will be done first.”
Namdas said that the joint committee had embark on fact finding tour to army formations across the country and realised that the army had challenges.
According to him, they are really on ground, they have done so much and now that the National Assembly is considering the budget we can appropriate for the army.
“We will see how we can be able to adjust and see how that can be able to cope with the challenges at hand,” he said.
Namdas also disclosed that a motion to provide for special funding for the armed forces was currently being considered on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He added that the armed forces could not be adequately funded only by the budget, adding that there was need to look beyond the budget to finance the operations of the armed forces.
“That motion has been taken and we are looking to it and by the special grace of God, even after the budget we will look for special funding for the armed forces generally,” he said.
The Depot Nigerian Army on Saturday graduated a total of 4832 regular recruits who would be deployed to various formations of the army.
Similarly, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, urged the graduating soldiers to always uphold the oath of allegiance they had taken to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Olonisakin also tasked them to display total loyalty while pledging that the prevailing security challenges would soon be over through the commitment of the military.
APC, Party For Notorious Liars – Ayade
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has described the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a group of persons notorious for lies, especially in his state.
He said the assertions credited to the APC chairman in the state, John Ochala, over his return to school to pursue a Master’s degree in law at UNICAL were as laughable and pathetic as the party itself in the state, adding “the party in the state is notorious for lies.”
Ochala is reported to have said that Governor Ayade returned to school because of idleness and laziness and that he (Ayade) lacked ideas on how to govern the state.
But the Governor in a statement by Mr. Christian Ita, his chief media adviser, said it was “funny that a party like APC which prides itself as a major opposition cannot engage the Governor on governance issues but chooses to lie to score cheap political points.
“If they didn’t see anything wrong with Governor Malam Nasir el-Rufai returning to school in 2017 in faraway Netherlands for his PhD, what,then is wrong if Governor Ayade returns to school to add to his numerous degrees within Calabar, the state capital?” he asked.
The statement reminded the APC that Chief Whip of the Senate and member of the APC, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was an undergraduate student while serving as Abia State governor.
“The timing of Governor Ayade’s decision to return to school is unequivocally perfect. Unlike APC members, the governor, despite all the resources at his disposal didn’t choose any foreign university, he decided to do it locally thereby boosting the reputation of Nigerian universities at a time tertiary institutions in West Africa are under attack,” he said. Ayade said to attack his quest for more academic degrees shows that APC in the state was weak as opposition party and could not be able to distract him.
Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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