Can an election still be free, fair? — Nigerian Pilot News
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Can an election still be free, fair?



Rumpus over Bulkachuwa’s chairmanship of Presidential Election Tribunal

On April 2, 2011, INEC shifted the national assembly election by seven days (to April 9), citing “logistics and operational” problems. And it took this decision while voting had already commenced in some parts of the country.

Really, what happened was that the electoral umpire had sent election materials meant for the governorship polls scheduled for April 16 to some states instead of those for the legislative election. This was an epochal, embarrassing logistics failure by INEC.

However, the Commonwealth Observer Mission in its report on April 18 said INEC managed to hold a “reasonable election” on the rescheduled date. In other words, that the exercise was shifted did not “totally negatively” affect its outcome.

“The experience of 2 April should not have happened. While INEC managed to hold a reasonable election on 9 April and improved its performance further on 16 April, it clearly needs to improve on its organisational capacity,” it said.

In fact, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Washington DC, US, gave INEC some accolades for the conduct of the rescheduled national assembly election.

Here is what it said in its report: “Reports from NDI observers contrasted markedly with observations recorded during the 2007 polls, when systemic and widespread irregularities subverted the overall credibility of those elections. In this election, (April 9 rescheduled national assembly election), polls were conducted in a generally calm and peaceful atmosphere, with many Nigerians demonstrating eagerness and determination to vote despite long queues and hats weather conditions.”

On February 7, the 2015 general election was shifted by five weeks, seven days before the exercise. Though INEC relied on security advice and not problems of logistics in taking the decision, the rescheduled election was largely free, fair and peaceful. This is according to some international observers.

So, it is clear that rescheduling an election may not colossally affect its turn-out or credibility. I know this is a difficult position to hold at this time that many Nigerians would like to have the head of INEC on a spike, but we must look beyond emotions and a bit into the nitty-gritty.

However, it is grossly irresponsible of INEC to have postponed the election nine hours before the schedule. Really, it is gravitationally sloppy of it. The electoral body had four years to prepare for the exercise; this tardiness can simply not be excused.

Importantly, INEC should not lease itself to political influence. Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, had pensively asked the electoral body to postpone conducting any election in Zamfara state so as to accommodate candidates from the APC. The party has been banned from fielding candidates in the state owing to the fraudulent primary elections it conducted.

As it is, if INEC succumbs to this wheedling, it will be clear that it did not postpone the election for logistics reasons, but for political reasons.

Fredrick Nwabufo, Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo

Almajiri menace: Silence and complacence of the North

The Almajiri system currently being practised largely in the North is a ticking time bomb. Standing I was across the street, when I saw some almajiris eating food that poured on the ground from the flask of a food vendor as a result of a tricycle accident. Most of this almajiris, are minors meant to be under the care and love of their parents. The street, they are left for to fend for them. Parental love and care is a fiction far from reality to them. Insecurity is one of the major challenges in the North; these groups of unloved children are potential recruits for the bad elements of the street.

When Rev. Fr Mathew Hassan Kukah made the offer to take a certain number of almajiris off the street; an outcry and uproar it raised from so many Muslim organisations, Islamic scholars, elites and social commentators. A whole lot of noise they made, like they really cared and a sense of responsibility had been awoken in them to face the Almajiri issue, proffer and implement a workable solution. A hoax it all was; for the issue didn’t even burn or trend for more than a week.

As a Northerner and a Muslim this is a slap and a disgrace. When it comes to politics and other frivolities that benefits no one but just the elites, we are on the forefront and make the loudest noise. The Northern Elites are the North’s greatest bane; feeding fat they’re from the region’s high level of poverty and illiteracy. Save for a very microscopic few of them, in poverty, ignorance and illiteracy they want their people to remain in perpetuity.

It is high time the North re-echos its social problems; call and mount pressure on its elites, religious leaders and organisations to address same. Enough is enough of us being just a tool to secure political dominance.

Umaru Ismaila, Jos, Plateau State

Saving the girl child

Living in a very safe environment where there is no fear, our lives and properties are secured is the wish of every individual. According to late Nelson Mandela, “safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” That should be the utmost priority of every leader and government. In Nigeria, the girl child lives in fear of the unknown as she is faced with many challenges which includes: child trafficking, rape, gender discrimination, illiteracy, early marriage, prostitution, unwanted pregnancies, abduction, domestic violence and so many others.

Most countries in the world see education as a basic human need and in Nigeria also, education is a basic human right that has been recognized since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of human rights. Education is one of the fundamental rights of individuals. Unfortunately, so many young girls in most part of the world are deprived of this opportunity especially in Nigeria. The rate at which young girls drop out of school this few years is worrisome and calls for concern. The country’s inability to checkmate the devastating challenges of poverty, unemployment, gender inequality and insecurity is due to the poor state of its educational sector.

According to the Director-General of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, NIEPA, Prof. Lilian Salami posits that, one third of all girls are out of school in Nigeria, amounting to over 5.5 million school age girls not in school. The North is the worst hit as it has the highest number of female school drop outs. UNICEF launched the G4G Initiative programme in September 2017 to help support girls to remain in school and improve their learning abilities. Regrettably, the government investment in education is still low, despite the significant impact of both national and international intervention in the sector to forestall this menace.

To this end, I implore the government to save the Nigerian girl child by providing free education for them because education bestows on women a disposition for a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, values, standards, attitudes, competence and skills. Let’s say no to illiteracy, no to early child marriage, no to prostitution, no to poverty, no to gender inequality and no to anything that has held us down as women.

The young girls should have the mentality of because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail no one will say she doesn’t have what it takes, they will say women don’t have what it takes. Thus, the time for saving the Nigerian girl child is now.

Deborah Phillips, Kano

After Saraki’s fall, is Tinubu next?

Dynasties rise and fall. It is a natural order. But there are factors which precipitate the declension of dynasties. For example, the rise and fall of Chinese dynasties was influenced by changes in weather conditions such as drought and famine. When the people are starving and dying of thirst they revolt against their emperors.

The eclipsing of Senate President Bukola Saraki in Kwara state reinforces the power of citizens’ revolt. Mass revolts through the ballot are still potent. It is evident the people of the state have simply grown weary of a unilateral influence and control.

According to an analysis by TheCable, many of the voters did not even know who Saraki’s challenger was. They were poignantly driven by a slogan, which resonated with them, “O to ge”.

I believe the excruciating defeat of Saraki in Kwara marks the end of a political era in the state. But is there another political dynasty of which sunset is nigh?

The voting pattern in the south-west in the presidential election shows that the Jagaban political dynasty may be seeing its last days. Unlike in the 2015 presidential election, where the south-west bloc-voted for the APC, though with the PDP winning in Ekiti state, the 2019 election voting distribution is a departure from the norm.

According to the results released by INEC so far, the PDP won in Ondo state; surprisingly made a very good show in Osun state, and it won in Oyo state as well. This shows that the south-west is conscientious about its actions and it is shaking off the fetters of unilateral influence and control.

I could imagine the Jagaban of Borgu at the height of his powers in the early 2000s, when he dictated the pace and play of politics in the south-west. Wherever he goes, the region goes.

In September, 2018, after the Osun gubernatorial election, I wrote that the outcome of the exercise showed the waning influence of the Jagaban. The 2019 presidential election voting distribution in the south-west accents this position.

Besides this, is there no possibility that President Buhari will consign the Jagaban to a space of irrelevance when he returns like he did after the 2015 elections? Remi Tinubu had once at the senate chamber lamented of how the Jagaban was relegated to the background immediately after the APC won the election.

It is really hard to say. But the rain falls even after a long period of sunshine.

Nigerians will eventually be free.

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