By Christian Appolos
For an election that was predicted to be bloody by naysayers, owing to the desperation of political actors in Nigeria’s democratic space, the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), defied the odds and conducted a poll, which local and international observers adjudged the most peaceful, credible, free and fair election in the nation’s recent memory.
The verdict of a transparent electoral process in the Edo State governorship election as executed by the electoral umpire, was recently affirmed by one of the leading contenders in the poll, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who disclosed that he would not challenge the outcome of the contest, thereby giving credence to the superb out of the INEC.
It is imperative to point out at this juncture that this is the only governorship election that one of the two major political parties in an election, is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the process was devoid of fraud in recent times.
In comparison to the recent past elections in the country, to say that INEC did a better job in Edo election, is to put a round peg in a round hole. And as once said by a poet; “This ‘place’ will never be better if we keep being brutish and denying the deserved their due praises; the energetic food that strengthens them to do more”.
Mindfully, it was possible for some INEC staff to have collaborated with dubious politicians to truncate the obvious electoral decision of the Edo people as seen in the past. But, apparently, the leadership of INEC under the watch of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, took a firm decision that the ‘Independence’ of INEC must be translated and reflected in the Commission’s actions.
Undoubtedly, it is a widely held opinion that INEC did not only display high level of independence and transparency in this last election, but went a notch higher to show that it is poised to entrench a system of free, fair and credible election that will always reflect the wishes of the Nigerian electorate.
Judging by the fantastic and successful performance of INEC in the election, many Nigerians, particularly, political commentators are of the opinion that the Electoral Umpire up its game by putting in place necessary mechanisms that ensure election results as declared in the various polling units transmitted electronically to the State Collation Centre so as to guard against fraud.
Frankly, Edo governorship poll was conducted in a manner that underlies the importance of electoral reforms and the entrenchment of democratic values. INEC was swift and decisive before and during and after the election, and its conduct geared political parties to keep their promises of working for the promotion of peace, which was made possible by orderly conduct of the voters and security agencies. This no doubt accounted for the reduction in electoral fraud and violent acts, ensuring the promotion of a free and fair election as we witnessed.
In line with the saying that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’, Nigerians expect more from Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and officials.
“The relief and the success of the Edo poll should not be lost at all as to warrant a relapse to our old ways. The Ondo Governorship election is coming up on October 10, while the Anambra poll will be holding next year. We expect the same measure of success in the Edo poll to be recorded in subsequent polls, not just that of Ondo and Anambra polls, but in the presidential, governorship and local government elections.” This was said by Network for Best Practice and Integrity in Leadership (NEBPRIL), among many other voices.
Understandably, election is the most important and major governance decision-making activity that all eligible citizens of a country participate in. It therefore should be given utmost attention in all ramifications.
It’s necessary also that INEC and security agencies going forward, prioritize the welfare of the ad-hoc staff and personnel on election duties, in order to ensure that they are not easily compromised.
Another incontrovertible truth which Prof. Yakubu has always pointed out is that a free, fair and credible election is possible if political gladiators and their supporters play by to the rules by eschewing violence, that has often characterized polls in Nigeria.
To this end for the job well done, It is deserving for Nigerians to give Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his staff a resounding applause; to celebrate ‘our little success’ in hope for the bigger successes we expect going forward.