No more excuses

March 21, 2019
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•Tomorrow’s elections provide another opportunity to show we
are ready to join the league of mature democracies

Tomorrow is another election day. The supplementary governorship polls in Sokoto, Kano, Benue and Plateau States will be conducted, to separate the two top contenders in each state.

At the March 9 elections, infractions based on non-use of card reader machines, as stipulated in the guidelines released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was one of the reasons for the re-run elections.  Other reasons were outbreak of violence; and close tallies, showing that the cancelled votes were more than the difference between the votes obtained by the two leading candidates.

We expect all institutions involved, in conduct of these re-run exercises, to be evidently neutral, in accordance with the law. The election management body owes it to Nigerians to show flawless elections could be conducted. Polls should open at stipulated times; and the best of trained officials should be deployed for the all-important polls, as the eyes of the world are fixed on Nigeria. Also, card readers deployed should be pre-tested and found good enough.

The principal election showed that law enforcement agents did not provide adequate security in many of the states. Where there were allegations that some security providers were compromised, we expect there would be a reshuffle to assure all that state institutions will always work in the interest of all parties.

Given the restricted nature of the supplementary elections, we do not think it’s beyond the Police Force to manage. It might just require logistics support such as distribution of polling materials. Where armed forces personnel are deemed needed, they should be strictly limited to patrol and surveillance duties.

We call on contesting political parties and candidates to rise above board.  Elections are periodic and those who lose today still have the opportunity to win tomorrow. However, the pattern of returns, from federal and state elections conducted nationwide on February 23 and March 9, indicates that some salutary developments, as some incumbents lost and those considered sure losers received the nod of the electorate.

We hope that INEC would have identified flash points and taken adequate measures to guarantee security of lives and property. In Bauchi and Adamawa where there are subsisting orders restraining INEC from conducting the supplementary polls, the commission has a duty to postpone the elections. Also, contender-governors of Sokoto, Kano, Benue and Plateau States should realize that they are chief security officers of their states, and thus act like statesmen.

Other contenders should drop the hiring of thugs to disrupt polls and act like noble men and women. In the 32 National Assembly constituencies where polling will take place, decorum should be upheld. Party supporters should realize that where anarchy reigns, there can be no development.

Nigeria is 20 years into this democratic dispensation and almost six decades after the colonial flag, the Union Jack, had been lowered. It is therefore no longer tenable to blame brigandage and low ideals on either colonial rule or military disruption of civil practice.

These supplementary polls will show if public officials are indeed ready to learn lessons from past misdeeds.

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