Development of nations takes time, but with hard work and commitment, nations are developed totally.
From 1999-2015, it was agreed that there were setbacks of all sorts in the nations electoral system. The 2015 election was adjudged to be the fairest because of the magnanimous act of the then president GEJ.
Today, another election has come to past. For INEC to deliver good results in future elections, it must harmonized its strategies, communications and operations accurately.
CRITICAL ISSUES THAT NEEDS REVIEW IN OUR ELECTORAL SYSTEM
1. USE OF PVCS, CARD READERS AND ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEM: It is clear that the nation seems not to be ripe or matured for such technological and scientific voting system. The administration of Prof Jega under the PDP regime introduced those systems. Billions of naira were spent on these facilities and procedures, processes, yet it seems not to be functioning.
Nigeria is a country with multiple kinds of civilization, it will be good for us to choose a system that will be okay for all Nigerians. This electronic system must be stopped if it will be generally applied.
Let the nation use ballots only if it will serve the purpose of uniformity. Why using modern technology without unanimously following through the required systemic elections processes?
After the 2015 elections, we heard cases of some parts the nation not using card readers and the same issues repeatedly occurred again in 2019.
If our system is not working, let’s look for the one that will suit us all. It was Sir Alexandra Pope that said:” for forms of government lets fools contend, what is best administer is best”. We must look for a suitable pattern of voting that will be acceptable to every region, educated or uneducated.
PVCs and card reader voting should be reconsidered.
2. INEC HOMONGORS BUDGET REVIEW: 2019 elections cast over #242 billion. I think these expenses must be reviewed. INEC elections mustn’t be this expensive and at the end, the whole process will be flooded with all manners of irregularities, contradictions and controversies. The point is,if the nation spend and invest massively in INEC, the commission must give it a better results that equates the amount budgeted. We must not remain a wasteful nation because of our oil money.
3. THE USE OF ACADEMICIANS/NYSC CORP MEMBERS: I believed that, the idea of using academics to conduct elections in Nigeria is to bring sanity in the system by the use of people with conscience, sincerity and well known integrity. Over the years, the members of this academic world seems not to be giving the nation what it deserves.
If INEC must continue to use the members of the academic environment, they should choose the ones that are very smart, intelligent, accurate,wise,witty,gritty, sound and very up to date in knowledge. The dispositions of some professor’s wasn’t encouraging.
There were reports of some NYSC members not been able to operate the card readers.
INEC must spend more time in training it ad-hoc staffers in other to get the needed support and results.
I suggest that federal government should build state of the arts facilities for INEC, possibly established an INEC academy for elections matters and preparation in all the 774 local government areas. This will help INEC to train and retrain it ad-hoc staffers over and over before elections. INEC should invest more time in training staff for better 2023 ELECTIONS.
4. EXCESSIVE RESULTS CANCELLATIONS: From the lessons drawn from previous ELECTIONS in Nigeria. Results cancellations is getting too much. There is need for INEC to look into how to curtail this act in the future elections. I think they should do more voters education in the locals. Involves critical stakeholders and party faithfuls more. If nothing is done about the huge cancellations,it will not be good in future and may get worst.
It is clear that in the 2019 ELECTIONS, logistics failure from the commission led to cancellations. The establishment must build up its base more to avert such circumstances and occurrences in 2013.
5. USE OF SECURITY DURING ELECTIONS: I want to advise that, a year to elections, the commission should write to the federal government to release certain numbers of security personnel that will work for it during the election. INEC should organize a better training and briefing for the designate officers and men,to equipped them well the commission expectations, protocols and strategies needed for successful elections.
INEC should be clear on the issue of using armed security at polling units or not. INEC must act on this accordingly.
6. POLITICAL PARTIES AND CANDIDATES: It will not be out of place for INEC to bring out or issue a by that bare parties from withdrawing candidates weeks and days to elections.
It will help the commission to plan well. This unlawful withdrawal affects INEC preparedness.
Possibly, INEC can give three months to the elections notice for the submission and withdrawal of interest to parties. Certain huge fine Should be set as punishment to defaulters. This will control party filling candidates.
7. DELAY IN RELEASING OF RESULTS: Tension in Nigeria elections is worsen by a delay. Minimum of three days should be placed as a standard for declarations of results at all levels. The presidential results should be give a special logistical backup for swift announcement. At states levels, REC should be directed to announced all results without sentiment or favour or bending rules to please any sets or party. Transparent elections lead to calmness and peace in the nation.
Invariably, the commission should start the preparation for next election in good time. The budget must be prepared on time. Two years to the elections,the budget should be send to the presidency and national assembly. In the third year,the budget and money should be approved. INEC early preparation will make it carry out a better elections.
The continuous voters registration should be open for all season before the election. Nigerians get to age 18 on daily basis. This should an assignment the commission must take seriously.
The use of graduates should be reviewed. The commission must put a cut grade for it mobilization. Many are graduates but are not educated. If the commission mobilize ad-hoc staffers that are smart and intelligent,it will get good results.
The use of NYSC if must be revisited. It mustn’t be all NYSC participants that should be mobilized to serve as ad-hoc staffers. At least those with 2.1 should be chosen as PO’s. The training for Corp members should commenced differently three weeks or a month before the election.
Card reader handling is a serious business. If INEC pick this up,it will help a lot.
Rigging and underage voting should be taken seriously by INEC. There is need for the commission to keep revisiting it’s registers to delete under age registered voters.
In terms of rigging, INEC can control this act by abiding either by the electronic system, this will help it to balance the results from field with it record.
No results should be entered by the collation officers with mandatorily verifying from the card reader. At the Central collation points at state and federal levels, there should be the e-verification before the manual is presented and accepted.
The issue of postponement of elections Should be handled with utmost caution. INEC should task itself and call the nation to order three days to the elections. This relates to logistics and preparation.
Towards 2023 elections, INEC should write to the federal government on the pending electoral act. If the act is signed by the presidency. It will enable INEC to have a better stand on the point one of this article. Use of card readers, PVCs and electronic system. If the bill is not passed, it will make the commission to always have a stager stand on election process.
I will always wish Nigeria and Nigerians well. I congratulate Nigeria on it 6th elections in this 4th republic.
Rwang Patrick Stephen
Federal University of Kashere
Faculty of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences,
Department of Political Science