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Nigeria’s Flawed Electoral Act
Published Aug 20, 2022 IN Column, THE REALITIES,
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oNE of the principles on which Nigeria’s democratic elections of 2023 are premised is the electoral act as amended in 2022. However, the emerging political scenarios so far indicate that the document which is meant to provide the necessary guides to ensure credible polls appears to contain lacunas that portend dangerous litigations before May 29, 2023.

Though appropriate sanctions have been placed on anyone involved in the snatching of ballot boxes as have been the practice in the past, the electoral act seem not to have captured the shortcomings in the electoral process as a result of improved technological innovations.

To begin with, the intentions of the political contenders appear to be at variance with those of their followers. While a good number of them (contenders) are working towards a better unified country with focus on safe and developed society, those who act as their promoters are using ethnicity, religion, intimidations, character assassination and spread of falsehood as strategies for winning the elections.

The way the political parties are currently going about their pre-campaign electioneering activities clearly show that the level indiscipline among the ruling class is still very high. For example the electoral umpire, the Independent Electoral Commission’s time-table indicates that campaigns will kick off on the 29th of September, 2022. One wonders what some of the politicians will do in September that has not been done as regards campaigns for elections.

This near-chaotic approach to electioneering process exposes the country’s civil rule to great danger. Besides the conduct of politicians and their followers, the electoral guidelines within the different political groups and INEC seem not to be helping maters. Arising from these, many Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and politicians are already in law courts challenging some of the decisions of the platforms even before the general elections.

 The electoral is silent on the level of insecurity required before elections are held or postponed. Reports show that a lot of communities have been taken over by bandits and terrorists. Yet the members of such societies are still being counted by INEC as potential voters in the forthcoming elections. And politicians probably do not observe the flaws in their calculations arising from the possibility of cancelled elections in many parts of the country.

Meanwhile, it sounds funny to hear people blame General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) for most of these lapses in the country’s legal system. These folks act without taking serious looks at those actors in the act of enacting laws without thorough and wide consultations and debates.

In the nation’s legislative style, debates on matters of importance like the electoral procedure often commence after bills relating to them have been passed into law. In the case of the recently signed electoral law, one must be grateful to law makers like Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for detecting the flaws therein before the primary elections that political parties are yet to recover from the confusions that arose from them. Many politicians have not recovered from the shock from their lost bids to fly their political parties’ flag for next year’s elections. One the biggest confusions from the primary elections remain the fact that the electoral is not too clear on the process of choosing running mates. The other is the lacuna left for politicians to “eat their cake and have it” by contesting for two positions at the same time.

In the civil service, if a man loses his job as a result of dismissal from same, it becomes difficult for him to be employed elsewhere. His prospective employers will not like to engage the services of a fellow who left his previous job as a result of dismissal. But unfortunately, this is not the case with Nigerian politicians. The highly indiscipline and expelled member of one party automatically becomes the toast of others. In fact, he earns promotion to higher level of function in a new group.

All these abnormalities boil down to one fact - the faulty choice of leaders for the country. A bad choice must of a necessity result into bad appointments which in turn must manifest in bad governance. It is not impossible that some of the members of the legislative and executive arms of government have not read any document of more than two pages in the last ten years prior to their elections into positions where they are expected to study the contents of voluminous documents such as bills for debates on regular basis. Definitely, such fellows cannot effectively participate in matters relating to passage of bills into law. They can only make funs out of serious issues.

In an organization where the workers go to work at will without their absence from duty having effects on their salaries, absenteeism must be the order of the day. This is the case with the Nigerian law makers. Often times Nigerians watch the near-empty halls during debates on live television broadcast.

Buhari and his All Progressives Congress, APC are not always the problem of the country. If all the arms of government wake up to their responsibilities without minding whose ox is gored, the country’s growth on all sides will begin to show forth. It all begins by electing the right people into office, not merely by plenty votes but by majority votes from enlightened citizens.

Elections can only pass credibility tests if all the electoral guidelines are devoid of loopholes. The enlightened members of the society must also be ready at all times to offer electoral education to men and women within their spheres of contact. The syllabus of their tutorials must include but not restricted to the need for the “students” to be willing to be taught.

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