The 2015 general elections have come and gone with attendant challenges and surprises. By and large, the elections were relatively peaceful and credible as were attested to by local and foreign observers. Except for three states of Abia, Imo and Taraba where results were declared “inconclusive”, the elections have been successfully concluded nationwide by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
As expected, winners of the polls are basking in the euphoria of electoral victory, while losers are adjusting to a life of defeat.
Of course, the major challenge witnessed in the just-concluded polls was the inability of the card reader to capture the thumb prints of many eligible voters, including President Goodluck Jonathan. For instance, in a state like Anambra where many card readers malfunctioned, the INEC officials had no choice but to resort to the manual method of accreditation of voters.
Again, the usual late arrival of electoral materials was also witnessed in many polling units due to logistics challenges, thus resulting in many polling units starting far behind schedule.
Although the police and other security operatives combined to provide adequate security before, during and after the elections, political violence still reared their ugly heads intermittently.
Obviously, the surprise package was the manner the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC swept all the northern states in the gubernatorial polls except Gombe. The success of the party in both the Presidential/National Assembly as well as the gubernatorial/state House of Assembly elections was phenomenal and unprecedented in the history of the country. The development has brought to an end the 16-year-rule of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Perhaps, one remarkable feature of the 2015 polls was the unprecedented manner President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat. This has not only earned him a national and global commendation as a true democrat, but also a hero whose ideals will definitely be echoed and remembered by posterity. No doubt, the feat has not only placed Nigeria’s electoral system on the global map, but has become a reference point amongst developing nations.
For the fact that no election is perfect anywhere in the world, INEC should continue to consolidate on its successes. The commission should be propelled by these positive strides to further improve on its fortune by making the country’s electoral process credible and stress-free. The commission should return to the drawing board and see where it did not do well and start working ahead of time. Expectedly, the 2019 elections should be a drastic improvement on the 2015 polls.
Unfortunately, what remains a major threat to our electoral process today is the issue of political violence that often result into disruption of elections. Lo and behold, this political violence has led to the death of voters, INEC officials and even security personnel on official duty in most cases.
Therefore, prosecuting those directly or indirectly involved in one electoral violence or the other should be the utmost priority of the incoming administration. Already, the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to setup a special court to prosecute and punish electoral offenders in order to discourage electoral malpractices. Moreover, his promise to adopt some of the recommendations of the Justice Mohammed Uwais Committee Report on Electoral Reform should be backed by action.
Nevertheless, INEC has also vowed to prosecute all electoral offenders to serve as deterrent to others. It should make good its threat so that people nursing the idea of disrupting our electoral process for their selfish interests will begin to have a rethink.
Due to its manpower deficiency, INEC has been unable to prosecute perpetrators of electoral violence. Perhaps, the plea by the commission to establish an electoral offences commission to effectively prosecute electoral offenders should be looked into with a view to establishing such commission.
Rivers State Police Command has started investigating 104 suspects arrested during the general elections. The suspects were said to be involved in about 41 cases of election malpractices and other offences against the country. The suspects were arrested for allegedly being in possession of several Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, an offence punishable under the Electoral Act. Other state police commands should also follow suit in ensuring that such perpetrators of violence do not go scot-free.
Interestingly, the United States has threatened to sanction anybody involved in any form of violence during the just-concluded elections. With such assurances as well as the unflinching determination of millions of Nigerians, the country’s electoral process will no doubt witness a tremendous turnaround in the weeks and years to come.

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