LETTER TO THE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (Part 2)
Most times, they even invite the nominees with specific entreaties that they have assignments for them. This assignment is, most times, to compromise electoral processes in favour of their political parties or tendencies. This is no news in our climes.
My first admonition and appeal to these appointees into the Commission is to remember the oaths they have taken in terms of independence and impartiality. For those with pedigree, they must let this count for something but even if you, as an appointee of the politicians into the Commission lack pedigree, remember your reputation and protect same. Remember always the son of whom you are and if that is insignificant to you, consider being fathers or mothers to some children, and likewise, wife or husband to a man or woman. These are worthwhile considerations in your decision making. Their feelings should matter to you. Would you prefer to be paraded for sabotaging the will of the people and to be cursed by the populace? Would you want to be remembered as some officials of the electoral umpire are remembered today for their dastardly acts while in office? Or you want to be a hero like Attahiru Jega? The choice is usually yours. If all these matters not, please do remember that you are occupying the position of trust in which you are not only accountable to the society but to your creator in the hereafter. In case you forget, it is instructive to note that you and your family live in the same society that catastrophe will befall, should wrong people be smuggled into public offices due to your action orinaction. Orun ma wo ni, kii se oroenikan (if heavens shall fall, all shall be victims). Even the illicit wealth you derive from your compromises of the electoral processcannot and will not benefit you in a tumultuous and insecure environment. If you allow the resources to be utilized in the training of the children of the poor to be misappropriated by dubious politicians through your acts, the bye products of this will ultimately endanger you and your family also. The insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping, and other vices threatening the nation and staring all of us in the face must be a constant reminder of the need to do the right thing. Your honour must continuously count for something. There are so many areas in which you, as an official of the Commission,compromise the integrity of our electoral process. As I have said in the past and still reiterating, the bedrock of any credible election is the voters’ Register. The Register contains the names of all the eligible voters in the country. Once there is corruption of this Register, no credible election can emanate from it. That is why the sanctity of the electoral register must be maintained at all times.In Nigeria, however, a lot of times, the compromise of the electoral register is often a routine act by you, the officials of the Commission. Apart from registration of ineligible voters, particularly persons not of age at the entry point of registration by some officials of the Commission, some unscrupulous officials connive, in not unjustifiably loading the register with fictitious names, but actively assisting politicians in the removal of names of registered voters considered to be dangerous and inimical to the ambitions of the politicians who are their sponsors. This obtains largely in the information technology department of the Commission, and attention needs to be paid to this in the forthcoming elections by the stakeholders. It is not unusual to find class names depicting a particular tribe or ethnic group being removed from the register at the instance of politicians. This explains why, on the dates of the elections, some group of registered voters would suddenly not be able to locate their names again on the register. For the electorate not to fall into this calamity, I call on them to be willing to sacrifice more time in jealously tracking their names during the display of register period and snapping pictures of relevant pages. I know it could be inconveniencing but I bet you, it is worth the sacrifice. Those officials of the Commission that engage in this atrocity need to search their conscience and remember the damage they are doing to the fortune of the nation and the interest of Nigerians. In as much as I am reluctant and unwilling to place a curse on these saboteurs, I am unable to resist joining issues with them and keeping mute. Hence, kindly pardon my harsh words along the line as I seem to pray on their behalf that they reap the benefits of their investments in thesecircumstances, as the damage they inflict on our nation is incalculatableand deserves nothing than this. The curse of the people shall remain on the perpetrators up to their unborn generations. Again, another fraud perpetrated by these undesirable officials is tampering with the register of voters in such a manner that thenames of potential voters in a particular area are planted far away from their allocated polling units so that such names become untraceable on the election date. Those officials involved must be tracked this time around and warned on this type of deliberate incidence carried out on behalf of politicians. This act equally derails the will of the people, and for those officials that engage in this, we can but only pray that God derails their lives too. I can continue to replicate these vices committed by some officials of the Commission but suffice to plead andadvise that those involved should, in the interest of the nation, desist in the next elections. As if the above is insufficient, a good number of the Commission’sofficials equally compromises the internal democracy of the various parties. This ranges from that relating to the election of the party managers, the members of the executive so to say, up to the conduct of the nomination process. Ideally, in the civilized nations of the world, it is unthinkable that political parties will be guided and guarded in their nomination processes but in Nigeria, as the politicians will never play by the rules, not only is statutory intervention made to command transparency in the process, the courts are empowered where justifiable to intervene. This used to be exclusive traditional domain of the political parties. However, to ensure credibility of the internal democratic process, the Electoral Act provides for the monitoring and supervision of the internal democratic processes by the Commission. Regrettably, however, this requirement has been more honoured in its breach than observance. Most times, the officials of the Commission actively participate in the sabotage of these internal democratic processes. Not only do they compromise through inaction, manipulation of the outcomes but more often than not, prepare false reports of compliance with the rules due to their compromise by politicians. These myopic officials often forget that the bye products of their handworks are the imposition of incompetent leaders on the system and who in turn delivers bad governance to us. How I wish that they are the victims of the insecurity and others vices emanating from the desk of these ‘dealers’ foisted on us by the officials. These deranged officials are the ones that engender, through their action and inaction, imposition of bad leaders on the people, exploiting the vulnerability of the electorate. Furthermore, on election days, some of the unpatriotic officials also assist politicians in frustrating the electorate in areas where such politicians feel that they are unpopular by delaying the delivery of voting materials and deployment of polling officials to those areas. That is why, at times, despite the best of efforts of preparation made towards the election, men and materials often arrive some centers unreasonably late in order to frustrate the electorate in those areas and limit the potential votes coming from the areas. Those of you officials that are the willing tools in this regard, know yourselvesand need to do self-examination before the day of reckoning. I have said it and I am reiterating it again, you and your generations born and yet unborn shall suffer the repercussions. Sale of ballot papers to politicians prior to and on the day of the elections, as well as allowingmultiple thumbprinting of ballot papers through connivance of greedy officials is not a strange practice in our elections. Again, the culprits in the system know themselves but I must, however, not fail to pungently state that these are perpetrated on election days largely by the ad hoc staff of the Commission engaged for the conduct of the elections. You, the potential youth corps members that are deployed to carry out electoral duties must appreciate the woes you went through inyour education, and that your potential jobless status are bye products of these indiscretions exhibited by your predecessors. You must, therefore, eschew the dastardly practice in your own interest and your children yet unborn. To make the country work requires credible and competent leaders that can help midwife the governance. Please mortgage not this future for what will certainly not generously last you beyond a month. Adhere to the oath of office taken by you and be upright in the discharge of your responsibilities. This is the only way we can collectively guarantee a future for the country. In the areas of qualification of candidates, some of you often aid and abet improprieties. You help in the concealment and suppression of information. Please give up this game and be part of nation building. In defacement and alteration of result sheets, some of you are great collaborators of the politicians in this regard. I cannot but join you in your prayer for thedefacement of your lives too, as you do this. This untoward act must stop. As the Bible says, for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul. You need to be contented with God’s favour. To do otherwise is to incur the wrath of God and that of your fellowmen. Ensure that the outcomes of elections in your units, ward, local governments and so on are properly reflected in the result sheets and the information technology device. Of interest is also the role you play in the dispensation of electoral justice. Most times, you are willing tools in the hands of the politicians to sabotage the cause of justice. You find it difficult to certify documents for people to support their petitions; to give testimony of your actionsand inactions, you compromise the truth and render false accounts of events, all these in the name of illicit funds. For how long do you want to live on this illegality?Remember that this ill-gotten wealth cannot benefit you and your children without the blessings of God and more often than not, you end up with a catastrophic life. Is it really worth it?ME THINK NOT! The final but certainly not the least and the last area of attention, due to space constraint, is civic education and information dissemination. Under the Electoral Act of the nation, civic education of the electorate is part of the brief of the Commission. The Commission,without fear of contradiction, has not fared well in this regard. The worst aspect is that rather than embracing the complimentary roles of other individuals and entities,hostility is their watch word in this respect. Let me recount the experience of a consortium put together under the platform of ‘Concerned Professionals’ ofwhich I am a member. The body had resolved to compliment the role of the Commission inprovision of civic education of the electorate in Lagos State and sought the required information and data from the Commission to actualize this task. Alas, the Commission,in return, had rewarded this gesture by punishment, demanding the sum above seven million naira to release the information to work. This is a body sacrificing the time, energy and resources of its members to assist in the electoral process. How does one rationalize this gesture of the Commission,if not simply to interpret same as an act of internal sabotage? Could this response be reasonable in face of the continuous voter’s apathy witnessed in our electoral circles? It took the ultimate intervention of Mr Femi Falana to finally get a jaundiced version of the information requested, leading eventually to the frustration of the genuine efforts of the patriotic members of the platform. Those of you responsible should repent and do the right thing. Nobody wants to hijack your job which certainly you cannot execute alone. As things stand, you are practically doing nothing, at best, if I choose to diplomatically and courteously indulge you, you are doing poorly. If this is a deliberate act as it seems to me, kindly reappraise and toe the line of honour. In all that I have said above, financial inducements leading to compromises plays a significant role and the affected officials of the Commission needs to have a rethink in the various nefarious roles they play. They need to constantly ask the question, is it worth it? If your welfare package is insufficient and you cannot endure it, or you are unable to resist undue pressure of compromises, enjoy your liberty of resignation. This is more honorable than being a saboteur of the electoral process and by extension, good governance in the nation. A word is enough for the wise…..!