Come and gone.This is one way to discribe the 2007 general election.
As we reflect on the several activities that characterised the election,it is difficult not to see the manifest discrepancies which some may call manipulaton.These, no doubt, has raised some questions in the parliament of the electorates and observers.The concern is on how best can the best method be found and adopted so that some of the lapses could be eliminated in subsequent elections.
Professor Murice Iwu, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission [INEC]believes that he has done a good job,conducting a so called ‘best election’ for Nigerians.But the people thinks otherwise and are calling for his sack.This call is not far from making it a personalisation of the issues.That appears too much of a demand.
But a public officer, for conscience sake, should resign his office if the people thinks otherwise especially when they think that the manifest impections that dotted the election were encouraged by him.If he accepts the blame the implication would be to cancell the results.In some states, the people have continued to cry so loud and condemned the conduct of the elections.
Indeed,the condemnation has taken a wider dimension with international watchers calling for a review of the structural defeats and how a good electoral process must be achieved.But at every opportunity,President Umaru Yar’Adua has assured Nigerians that he will take a decicive action to correct any lapses and effect a reform.This will be his administration priorities.But it was a subtle way to acknowledge the election errors.
However,the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress[NLC] and the Trade Union Congress[TUC] at a meeting during the three day industrial action in 2007 listened to the President and believe his promise of setting up a committee to work for the reform of the nation’s electoral process in line with international standards.
This appear convincing but the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party [ANPP] rtd General Muhammadu Buhari is insisting on the sack of the of the National Chairman of the commission. This was the the attached condition to the letter he raised in support of Yar’Adua reform overtures.Only then can the reform decision be said to adress the problem.Is this not asking too much?.
On his part,Professor Iwu has acknowledged the lapses and promised to prosecute all those who were involved in one form of rigging or another during the elections.He resounded it to a delegation of the Ohaneze Ndigbo Youths who paid him a visit in his office that all those who made manifest effort to wreck havoc and visited mayhem on the election will not be allowed to go unpunished.
The assertion means that that the blame has been shifted.We note that there were ballot box stuffing,killing,abductions and hijacking of ballot boxes. If such things happened and he knew about.why was it difficult for him to curb them.If the forces against him were so strong for him to contend with then he failed in his duties.
But in the view of <INEC>,a lot has changed in the nation’s electoral process.What has not changed perhaps in the estimation of some people is the elements that control the commission from the without the organisation.This view is held by thes people because of the seeming silence on the involvement and the unimpeded exchange of money from hand to hand in the electoral process.
The persuasive influence monetary inducement,gift coupled with the notion that things can not changed; a mind set that frustrates genuine positive efforts made to fulfil the the aspirations of the people.
While Profession Iwu also involved academics,civil societies,communities,religious based organisations and political parties, to contribute their quota to building a framework that would guide the conduct of the elections,it was short of expected goals.
Professor Iwu also, for the first time,introduced electronic voters registration with voters cards bearing pictures.The introduction placed Nigeria on a plane of harnessing the gains that can be got from the information technology.This may be seen as to be in concert with best democratic practices as in the other parts of the world.
There was also the use of some temporarilly recruitment <adhoc> staff who were certified to have been trained and self respected as well morally disciplined.This institutions<INEC> branche offices located in each in each of the geopolitical zones in the country also undertook several intellectual activities that was intended to ensure a smooth process.These were real investment, probably, made in the hope that Nigeria’s democracy would acommodate a stream of ideas in a a cross fertization process.
But with the system frost with the attendant ills, Professor Iwu alone can not be the problem or the solutions to repair the damage.He may have had some difficult times and had tolerated the anomally.There yet to be indications that a failing public officer can resign if not performing.Professor Iwu would have to serve his tenure.What happens after him or subsequent elections is the concern.
The reform of the electoral system is now an accepted workable proposal.More so because since the 1960,elections have been clouded with imperfection and the results largely rejected.The proposed reform would no doubt be looking at the operating environment,the laws governing the election,political parties,party finances,the goverment,civil society and the media.
With the electoral reform panel now set up with its head as the former chief judge of the Federation,Justice Mohammed Uwais leading the twenty one others,there is the promise that the noticed errors will recieive an apt attention and modalities set out for prosecution of detractors.
In fact President Yar’Adua has continued to say“We are reforming our electoral process to lay a solid foundation for political stability but there must be a complete change in the conduct of our politicians and political parties because their attitude will determine the success of the reforms.”