I want to first congratulate Nigerians as we go to the polls once again to elect another sets of leaders of the country. My interest here is the Presidential election coming up on the 28th March 2015. I congratulate Nigerians because the country is still one and we are alive to witness another milestone in the history of the country. Even though the ruling party have continued to boast that they have given the country an uninterrupted democracy for 15 years now, I still believe the glory belong to God and to all Nigerians who desired it, if Nigeria didn’t like democracy it would have failed. So I congratulate all Nigerians.
I have looked at the general preparations for this year’s election. The role of the umpire, The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], Political Parties and I have come to the conclusions that this year’s election is indeed going to be the worst election to be conducted in Nigeria’s history.
Agreed there has never been any perfect election anywhere in the world, Nigeria not an exception, and there will never be a perfect election even in Nigeria.
There are issues that needed to be tackled to have a credible election in the country, but nobody is addressing it. Some Nigerians are trying to raise some of these issues so that we can have a longer and stable democracy in the country but surprisingly the main opposition party in the country the All Progressives Congress [APC] will not want to hear it. Their propaganda machineries have made them and their supporters believe that they have already won the election even before it was conducted. They believed that any attempt to proffer solutions to our electoral system will be an attempt to postpone the election and by extension postpone their swearing in or postpone their government. But what is given the opposition so much confidence that they have won this year’s election, this is worrisome. For the first time in Nigeria the opposition look so confident of winning the election even more confident that the party in government , whether this is good for our democracy or not is a topic for another day, but I know that in this election the opposition elements have some people that are rich even from looted funds that they can match the Federal Government money for money.
To focus on the election umpire for a while, INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega has boasted that this years election will be better than that of 2011 election. He believes that to organize a better election, the magic is the Permanent Voters Card [PVC] and the card reader an instrument that will guide against election rigging and ensure that the election is not rigged. I don’t agree with him. Only human beings and Nigerians including politicians can guarantee a free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria and not machines. Machines can always be manipulated by humans, it is garbage in garbage out.
The truth of the matter is that this year’s election is going to be rigged and both the PDP and the APC have perfected rigging plans. Nobody should be fooled.
We have seen and read instances where Machines and computer based machines have disappointed even its manufacturers. The world was stunned when sometimes in the United states a supposedly safest bank in the world was robbed and millions of dollars carted away, we have seen British Submarine, the destroyer been destroyed by Argentina during the Falkland Island war, we have seen people stealing money from the banks through the ATM machines, we have seen hackers hack into peoples network and use it to swindle other people etc so why is Attahiru Jega deceiving Nigerians that the use of the PVC and Card Reader machines will necessarily end election rigging in the country. Who is deceiving who. What of the human element in all these. Politicians are already collecting and buying other peoples PVC while some are even cloning PVC but INEC and its officials are saying that will be a waste of time as the card reader will reject it. This is rubbish, all you need to hack a card reader is to have its password, and INEC and the Manufacturers can readily give the password to politicians for a fee.
Another strategy that INEC will use to rig this years election is the use of incident form. INEC is creating incidental forms for people who have complain to vote, this can be manipulated. One of the features of the use of the card reader is the use of finger printing, the commission has also made provisions for those who don’t have fingers and the blind to vote. So if you are blind or you don’t have fingers and you have to vote someone will have to do the voting for you. Nigeria does not have the statistics of those who are blind or those who don’t have finger. Any of the parties can use this to rig election with INEC connivance. A card reader that cannot detect the finger print of an underage voter is not worth its name.
Look at the voters register that has already been bungled by INEC to rig the election. There was what was called a continuous voters registration [CVR] exercise sometimes in 2014. The Permanent Voters Card [PVC] and the Continuous Voters Registration exercise was in 3 phases across the country. Even though a lot of money was voted for voter education, INEC did not carry out any voter education exercise during the CVR exercise.
Let me use Edo state where I registered as my case study. The distribution of the PVC in Edo state took place in November 2014. I went to my Registration centre at the Emotan school on Mission road to collect my PVC, I was told by the registration clerk that in that centre about 700 people registered but they were given only 180 PVC’s to distribute but that more PVC’S would be made available much later, that was in November 2014. After the distribution of the PVC’s we started the Continuous Voters Register [CVR] which lasted for three days, during this period INEC told the nation that those that had registered before need not register again, warning that registering again would amount to double registration which might remove one’s name from the data. So I didn’t bother to register again. Then in February 2015 I went again to INEC office in my ward to collect my PVC ahead of the then February 14th Presidential poll but was told again that the commission was yet to receive additional PVC . then the election was postponed to March 28th 2015.
Sometimes in February INEC commissioner in Edo state Mike Igini had a stakeholders meeting with Political Parties etc and the Media was invited to the meeting. During the question and Answer section I told the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Edo state Mike Igini what I was told at the ward office of INEC in Benin. I told him that the Registration Area Officer in the Oredo ward said only 180 PVC’s were given in my registration unit out of the 700 people that registered in 2011. His answer confused me the more.
It was then I heard for the first time that there was what was called a zero polling units across the country, this he said was as a result of ‘loss of data’. He said in Edo state about 49,515 people were affected, he said that was why the commission embarked on the Continuous Register so that those whose data were lost could register again. This information was not made available to Nigerians. We were told that the reason for the Continuous Voters Register was for people who had not registered before to have the opportunity to do so, it did not say any data was lost. This lapses in the conduct of the Voters Register could favour any candidate in an election depending on who INEC chose to favour. This information has become necessary because irrespective of what happens on election day, the most important aspect of election is the process, if the process is right the election will be credible.
As the Presidential election comes up this week let me assure Nigerians not to panic. Election will come and go and it will be peaceful. Am aware that there are people who had threatened crisis if they did not win the election. Some said Monkey and Baboon will be soaked in blood, some said they will form a parallel government while some even threatened outright war if their candidate did not win. But I have good news for Nigerians. God in its infinite mercy will intervene in the affairs of the country as he had always done. God had never abandoned Nigeria at her hour of need and would not do so now. Let me remind Nigerians of just two instances where the country would have broken but for God’s intervention. Remember the June12 1993 election crisis, Nigeria was on the verge of another civil war as a result of the annulment of that election. The then Head of State General Sanni Abacha refused to hand over power, while Chief Moshood Abiola who was presumed to have won the election refused ‘to surrender his mandate’. Nigerians started running to their villages for fear of been caught up in the war, some died on the road as a result of accident while some were victims of armed robbery attacks. God intervened, Abacha and Abiola died and Nigeria remains. It will happen again.
That was not all. Former Libyan leader Mohammar Gaddafi had perfected plans to break up Nigeria. He gathered some people from the Niger Delta and from the North took them to Tripoli and trained them in the act of terrorism. Some people from the Niger Delta who accepted Islam were retained and trained in the act of terrorism while those who refused to accept the religion were taken to the Sahara Desert and released, some died in the desert on their way trekking to Nigeria. Asari Dokubo was one of the beneficiaries of that training. That was how terrorism entered Nigeria in what we now know as Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram. God again intervened, killed Gadafi and Nigeria was given another respite. If Gadafi had not died there wouldn’t have been anything called Nigeria by now.
So this years election is very important to God. March 28th Presidential election is coming on the eve of what we Catholics call the holy week in preparation for Easter. Let those who are threatening war or parallel government or making monkey and baboon soak in blood continue, God is still on the throne.
Vincent Egunyanga a freelance journalist writes from Abuja.
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