Ekiti 2022: INEC On Trial

Ekiti 2022: INEC On Trial

In a historic episode, the Ekiti State electorate in South West Nigeria went to the polls to elect a governor in an off -season election on Saturday, June 18.  It was a unique experience for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as it is coming just ahead of the 2023 general election when all 18 registered political parties are expected to outwit each other in a game that would re-write the nation’s democratic history.

Indeed, it is not the first time the INEC is conducting an off-season election under the dispensation of Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and therefore it is not in unfamiliar path but the proximity this time to the general elections where the whole country would be on full electoral gear calls for some consciousness and caution in order to explore inadequacies in its gambit during the Ekiti episode.

We had exclusively reported in our weekend edition, June 18-19 that irregularities, including vote buying could mar what the INEC had wittingly worked out to be one of its showpieces in electoral performance since it has assured it was one that would engage some level of technology to deliver. In essence, some human factors which allowed for electoral manipulations would have been exempted when those technologies were deployed. The Commission though did not say its processes would be water-tight against established electoral fraudsters and manipulators but was resolute on curbing the excesses of the past where the system was on a loose fall without restraint.

While we will not quickly adjudged the Ekiti process as one fraught with embarrassing fault lines, we are discomfited that some participants in the process are already calling for the cancellation of the poll, citing sundry irregularities and particularly vote-buying at its highest dimension.

With the electoral umpires assumed capacity, it is still not adding up why there would be a groundswell of agitations by several participants in the election despite the INEC’s avowed impeccability in its technological capacity and human resource deployment. The Commission has over the months told a nation waiting to put its strength to scrutiny using the Ekiti election as a barometer, which it was going to deploy novel systems to deliver the election, stressing it would be a foretaste of the 2023 elections.

It may not be prudent to put the INEC on the altar for judgement where it is yet to defend itself on the various concerns being raised, the Commission should deeply introspect and quickly respond to the alleged flaws in order to make for a more watertight outing across the country next year when it would have the whole country as its playing field.

We are not unwary of the tendency of an average contestant in an election as is the situation in many a country, especially in Africa where every election is believed to be flawed and contemptible, it is important to adequately uphold ‘undisputable’ outcomes so as to mitigate unnecessary legal processes with their waste of time and suspense that often ensue.

For the Ekiti election, in which the All Progressives Congress, APC’s candidate Mr. Biodun Oyebanji has been declared winner, we counsel that if the other contestants have exhausted all their claims of electoral fraud to be inviolable, then should engage in the winding process of litigation but not recourse to violence.   

We must learn to accept defeat where it is evident and make contestation where inevitable. Political gladiators must understand that in every contest only pretenders enter the race for the sake of it, as others are intent on winning the coveted prize, having put up a good fight. It is therefore always difficult to assuage the pains of one who feels cheated after going through the grill to emerge as a candidate of his/her party in the first place.

AljazirahNigeria also cautioned the security to work in accordance with the Electoral Act and rule of engagement, understand that they are to serve the nation by helping to improve the democratic processes by shunning the aiding and abetting election criminals no matter whose ox was gored. AljazirahNigeria thumbs up a few gallant security officers who exhibited patriotism by refusing to comprise standard and apprehended some vote buyer’s in the last Saturday Ekiti Guber election. It is not enough to arrest those criminals, the INEC and the police should prosecute them and their sponsors to serve as deterrent to others.

Stakeholders must learn to play by the rules to exhibit the maturity expected of our democracy.

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