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AHEAD of the October 20 Ondo State gubernatorial election, three grave allegations are dominating contemporary discourse in the state. The ruling Labour Party (LP) had alleged mass purchase of voter cards while the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Akin Orebiyi, raised the alarm on secret registration of voters and production of fake voter cards.
MR Orebiyi explained that some people, he described as “unscrupulous politicians”, had planned to create fake copies from the voter
register which the Electoral Act stipulated must be given to each of the political parties, on request, 30 days to the election. He also foreclosed any plan to carry out a fresh voter registration prior to the election.
WE take note of the promise and resolve by the state INEC to follow the Electoral Act to the letter in the conduct of the Ondo election. The history of the state in electoral matters, particularly the best forgotten 1983 post-election violence in all parts of the state, makes it compelling that all hands be on deck to ensure free, fair and credible election in the state.
THE decision not to carry out a fresh voter registration may however disenfranchise a substantial proportion of eligible voters in the state. It is mandatory for the electoral umpire to ensure that all eligible voters are enabled to exercise their civic rights in the proposed election and this is where a new register of potential voters becomes imperative. The constitutional provision is that every citizen of Nigeria, who has attained the age of 18 years, and residing in Nigeria at the time of the registration of voters for purposes of election, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election.
THE skirmishes of violence, so far recorded in Ondo State, associated with the scheduled governorship poll, should stop forthwith. We agree with the REC that the use of armed private security agents be disallowed during the campaign. However, we urge the various arms of the state security apparatus to live up to their responsibilities as in the recent Edo governorship election. The ambition of any politician is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
IT is generally agreed that four basic conditions are necessary for the holding of free and fair elections. These are an honest, competent, non-partisan administration to run elections, a general acceptance throughout the political community of certain rules of the game, a developed system of political parties, traditions and teams of candidates before the electors as alternatives among whom to choose, and an independent judiciary to interprete electoral laws. The significance of free and fair elections as the prerequisite for peace, stability and progress of the nation cannot be overemphasised. An important, indeed crucial, aspect of the current efforts to institutionalise the management of free and fair elections must include guaranteeing the institutional integrity of INEC. This is because Nigeria’s political history shows that too many forces operate during elections to undermine the independence of the body charged with the management of elections. Three of these forces stand out: government and all the state agencies it controls, various categories of politicians who pressurize the commission into favouring them, and the personal integrity of the commission’s personnel.
IT is imperative that we should tackle and evolve solutions for the problems of rigging now, because the political race will not be worth anybody’s effort unless there are detailed provisions in Nigeria’s electoral law which are seen to be capable of guaranteeing a truly free and fair election. We concede, however, that the quality of any electoral system and the election itself is not the determinant factor for a free and fair election. The determinant factor is the political will. If the political parties want to have a free and fair election, they can have one.
The converse is also true.
POLITICIANS in the state should shun desperation that vitiate high moral values. The decision to win at all costs or to capture must be eschewed. But where morals are lacking, people will perpetuate electoral malpractices when they take politics as a matter of life and death. This should not be so. The electorate themselves need more political education with a view to preventing controversial electoral processes. Free and fair elections are most important in a nation’s journey to nationhood.
THE recent governorship election in Edo State should be improved upon and replicated in Ondo State. It is noteworthy that in no area of Edo State was there any recorded account of ballot box snatching or stuffing. This orderliness has been largely credited to the security arrangement and the cooperation among all the agencies involved in the election security. The resistance to the temptation to use the instruments of coercion to subvert the popular will of the people is a signal that there is light at the end of the tunnel in the nation’s quest for a truly democratic Nigeria. The gains of “one man one vote” must be maximised in the scheduled Ondo election and subsequent ones in the country.
WE wish the good people of Ondo State well as they file out en masse to elect their governor in October 20.Share
written by breitling montbrillant replica watches, September 17, 2012