By Boniface Egboka
It squarely lies within the purview and realms of Divine Providence to know and judge what will happen vis-a-vis the fate of corporate Nigeria’s existence come the year of decision for 2019 Presidential Elections. The stormy winds of possible political implosions/ explosions that ought to be checked and contained now seem to be in the horizon. Nigerians are facing a state of political dilemma, conundrum that is creating a situation of to be or not be as the February 2019 Presidential Election advances closer.
Vocal opposition groups have been calling on the Federal government authorities and INEC, insisting that the present military-imposed 1999 Constitution should be abrogated and the oncoming elections suspended, boycotted or cancelled until proper restructuring and Devolution of Powers to the Federating Units for the country is carried out to give all ethnic nationalities a level playingground of existence. And yet, many others including political parties/politicians are actively-jockeying about for power, insisting that elections must be held and overall winners to emerge come thunder or lightning, rain or sunshine thereby creating two major opposing forces that seem equal and opposite with potentials for success/ failure with unforeseen doubtful implications.
The much awaited political die that will generate sociopolitical-cumeconomic outcomes for Nigeria of major consequences is now cast. The two contending major dramatis personae of contestants and two contending parties are now known; the dramatic stage for the advancing February 2019 Presidential elections seems to have now been set. Unless a forceful coalition of some political parties decides to form a third Force to possibly cause a runoff scenario after the main election, the two major parties of APC and PDP and their Presidential contenders of PMB and ATIKU respectively will become major players to contend with and watch for the all-important Presidential Elections of February 2019.
Political watchers, pundits, prophets, ordinary man in the street, national and international observers are full of expectations and interested to predict the nature of what will be eventual outcome for Nigeria and humanity. Out of the present dilemma-conundrum is the issue of conducting a nonrigging, free and fair elections devoid of misgivings to produce acceptable results and a winner eventually.
Already parties and party members have been accusing each order of having completed plans to rig themselves into unmerited victories/power. The successes or failures of elections are at the hands of INEC officials, security agents and party officials. Rigging or non-rigging of elections squarely-falls within the thresholds of their performance. Some party members have accused one another of internal rigging against themselves as being displayed in party primaries. Scientific riggings are of different modes, designs and patterns as briefly-stated next. List of qualified voters may become falsified. People may use fake PVCs or ones that do not belong to them to vote. Under-aged voters may be registered or goaded to vote.
Qualified voters may be prevented to vote by party thugs, fake or corrupt security officers. Quarrelling and fighting to cause disorder and confusion at polling booths or collation centres while the security and INEC officials just look away may occur. Campaigning, sharing of money for voters’ card buying and sharing of foods at polling stations must be decried and not allowed. Corrupt temporary or permanent INEC officials at any level may commit havocs and distress by colluding with a party for their personal interests/aggrandizement and to undermine proper voting processes through such evil ways and methods.
Such actions include tampering with electronic voting machines and materials so that they fail to work as they ought to do during voting; allowing daylight robbery and stealing of ballot boxes at polling booths while security officials look away; allowing unregistered people to vote; failing to stop double voting at different places from one place to another; getting people bribed or to swear or take an oath before a shrine or whatever object to forcefully-bind one to vote for someone; allowing non-Nigerians or foreigners to vote or act as officials of parties or INEC; allowing underaged people to vote instead of getting them arrested/chased away; failure to present proper or enough voting materials as needed; knowingly-starting voting-proper very late or not on time; working with corrupt security officials to undermine voting proper; taking bribes and working for the highest bidder of a party; affecting/effecting forgeries and contamination on healthy results and tampering with the electronic voting machines or records to favour a party or candidate who might have bribed the officials.
They also include the presentation of fake results collated from cookedup results that never came from the Wards or LGA Collation Centres; Sturdily-blowing out lies when caught in election crimes instead of admitting and telling the truth; saddening situations where security and INEC officials may brazenly and unabashedly-collaborate in fraud with one party against another; a situation where INEC officials are allowed to knowingly or unknowingly get away with carrying out incorrect Mathematical calculations to produce final fake results that favour one candidate against the other. The height of rigging occurs during imposition of candidates who may not even qualify over others and the also use of legal means/law courts to rig. One must be most suspicious where INEC when challenged over its announcement of a contentious final result, casually tells you to go to court; one should smell a rat and never allow such melodrama to develop.
A credible, successful and acceptable execution of the February 2019 Presidential election shall be a positive milestone in Nigerian sociopolitical/ stable nationhood. Elections must be free and fair. Every effort should be made by INEC, security forces and political parties should play positive roles to ensure success. In order for this to happen, non-rigging policies, programmes and actions must be put in practice during entire election process. Distribution of election materials by INEC officials and takeoff of election processes – proper must be begun on time as scheduled. Proper Voters’ Registers must be used. Under-aged voters must be barred from entering polling stations. INEC officials must behave above board and honestly do their duties according to the Electoral Law and the wishes of majority of Nigerians.
The Nigerian Police and other security agents must shun corruption and bad judgments as they toe lines of honesty, decency, nationalism and acceptable sense of duty in performance of their tasks/duties in ensuring total security and protection of lives and property during elections. Voting machines, PVCs and records must not be allowed to be manipulated by INEC officials or by any other person. Party representatives and national and international monitors/observers must be given free hands to do their duties. Campaigning and buying of electioncontrabands at/near polling booths must be checked. Thuggery and other nuisance acts must be frustrated out of existence. Nigerians and INEC should borrow a leaf on how to handle successful democratic elections from the way and manner the United States, Canada and European countries organize their elections regularly and successfully.
Even the recently-conducted election by the PDP for their Presidential primaries shows that Nigerian institutions/authorities are capable of organizing free, fair and credible elections that can be acceptable to the world standards and generality of the people. Recently PDP leaders went on a demonstration melee to INEC office at Abuja over the Osun recently-conducted gubernatorial election. There were many complaints by opposition parties and election observers against similar elections earlier-held in Edo and Ekiti States. As one writes, many members are complaining against party primaries carried out in APC and APGA that portend sad omen on any seriously-credible election process. INEC has major roles to play to check these excesses that damage image of the country. Recently, INEC struck at APC over Zamfara primaries despite the weak protests of Chairman Oshiomole. INEC must honestly-use its wide-ranging powers to dutifully stand firm/refuse and never give-in over such decisions.
Boniface Egboka, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org