Last Friday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presented its `Report of the 2019 General Election’.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in presenting the two volume reports enumerated challenges on the preparation and conduct of the election, lessons learnt and specific recommendations, listing over 180 including recommendations for test running and adoption of e-voting and adoption of early/special voting for election duty and other related officials.
Other recommendations touched on amendments to the electoral legal framework, creation of Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal, among several other issues.
Prof. Yakubu and his team did a good job no doubt, but there is certainly nothing new from the recommendations made over the years, especially on our electoral systems.
There are currently several panels probing events and activities surrounding the earlier peaceful but unfortunately sour #EndSARS protests, including what could be regarded as a national inquest put together by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Already, chilling and mind-bugling revelations are being made at these panels. Also, emotions, truth, lies, cover-ups and revelations are being made, which in the end would probably assist resolve contending issues.
However, it should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand that the late erudite jurist, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa had handed over a compendium of recommendations made by his Human Rights Violations Commission, which were never implemented.
There was also the M.D. Yusuf panel on police reforms which reeled out series of reforms for the police. The report of this committee unfortunately would have resolved lots of issues that gave birth to the unfortunate #EndSARS protests, but they were dumped in a cupboard at the Presidential Villa.
We have also had the Justice Mohammed Uwais Panel on Electoral Reforms which made wide-ranging recommendations but also, unfortunately, were equally jettisoned to gather dust somewhere at the Presidential Villa.
What of the recommendations of the National Constitutional Conferences, which also met deaf ears, dumped by those who were in authority at the time such reports were made?
The issue here is that Nigeria is not known for not making inquiries. We are also not known for lacking in substance, regarding the recommendations made. But, the problem is that Nigerian leaders only made such committees and inquiries pass off as jamboree, with their recommendations easily tucked up in one dingy corner of a cupboard at the State Houses and the Presidential Villa.
Even as the #EndSARS enquiries and the INEC recommendations should be commended, the fact remains that such only aim at introducing reforms which it appears those controlling the helm of affairs at the polity appear always uninterested in implementing.
The AUTHORITY notes that Nigeria is not lacking in credible recommendations that should bring the much needed reforms in all segments of our governance. What we have probed to lack is the temerity to see through the implementation of such recommendations, which we are afraid to state, is where the current inquiries, unfortunately, will lead to.
The country’s political leaders should get more serious. All the panels and probes are, to say the least, a huge distraction. They will not unravel anything new. We have several reports, review reports, White Paper, Blue Paper, Red Paper and even Green Paper reports of previous recommendations. If our political leaders could spare a moment and implement just 10 per cent of the recommendations from the reports of the committees/commissions led by Justice Oputa, Justice Uwais, and Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, we should busy ourselves with implementing far-reaching reforms, rather than embarking on another round of seemingly wasteful inquiries.
Without sounding like broken record, the current inquiries going on in parts of the country are nothing but mere entertainment, which will not come up with anything new. Worse is that we have not yet seen the political will to implement anything they will come up with. If the will is there, we shall know. The taste of the food is in the pudding.
Our position could sound unpatriotic but it is the stark reality. Why should we waste the scarce resources that have been so terribly ravaged by the terrible effects of the corona virus pandemic and #EndSARS protests, to empower fresh judicial panels, instead of implementing aspects of the several reports at our kitty?
People who benefit from such talk shops would be healing abuses, but the fact remains that talk have become too cheap in Nigeria, while taking concrete action seem like climbing the Alps Mountain with bare hands.
If our leaders have not yet woken up to the stark reality that Nigeria needs immediate and steady reforms, then, we may chose to continue to go round in circles. We dance around, but end nowhere.
The country desperately needs reforms in it’s political processes; we need urgent reforms in our security governance systems; we need even more drastic economic reforms; we need more realistic revenue reforms; we need a fast-tracked reform in our education sector, while reforms in our reward systems must take a priority.
A lot of things are being miss-applied. We must discontinue with putting round pegs in square holes; we must adept equity, fairness, good conscience and fear of God in everything we do.
In as much as we continue to operate as if our tomorrow do not matter or that we must lay credence to gerontocratic political systems, so long shall we continue to set up probe panels that only make us make haste in the opposite direction. If we continue to denigrate merit and continue in our brazen abuse of the the Federal Character principle, a principle that in itself is not in our interests, but which should be implemented to satisfy the letters of the constitution, so long shall we continue to sit firmly on the log of wood and continue to drag it up to our head.
We must decide to put an end to all these shenanigans and face reality that can move this country forward and take us out of the woods. If we chose to remain where we are and run round in cycles, so long shall we continue to use pain relieving tablet to treat an ailment that requires a surgery.
It is time to accept that we have fooled ourselves enough, pick up the compass and get at the right destination. Anything short of this will continue to be a collosal waste of scarce resources, energy and time. And Nigeria will continue to pay dearly for our collective refusal to do what is right.