By Efio-Ita Nyok
On Sunday 15 February 2015 I published an article titled: How Independent is Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC? In which I submitted that in view of the power tussles transpiring between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party PDP and the presidency and the leading opposition party All Progressive Congress APC, that INEC may not be as independent as supposed. The challenge of independence of INEC was not as important as the implication of the said challenge in respect of a free, fair and credible elections come 28 March and 11 April.
That article may have meant nothing to some and otherwise to others. However, today Wednesday 18 February, at the floor of the Senate the INEC czar, namely, Professor Attahiru Jega confirmed to Nigerians that he could not guarantee the 28 March and 11April rescheduled dates of the forthcoming general elections but could only assure Nigerians of the election holding on that date in affirmation of my supposition that the challenge that characterises INEC in regards to guaranteeing freedom, fairness and credibility are profound! What further message does this grim revelation sends to us?
This brings us to the question of strength of public institutions. Nigeria’s public institutions as other third world societies is in a sordid situation. Public institutions are created to ensure that a given state operates itself according to principles and policies, and not persons and sentiments. They are supposed to be above board lending credibility and authenticity to government. They are not supposed to be operated on the caprices of the political elite, but on the sentiments of the law.
Alas! The reverse is the case in Nigeria. Public institutions in Nigeria are actually an appendage of the ruling political elite class. They are at their beck and call. And INEC is no different! At least, Jega has demonstrated that already.
In the first place, the military did not have the justification for refusing INEC cooperation. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, but he is claiming not to have colluded with the top brass in the military to bully INEC into conceding to the plan if rescheduling the general elections. But who is the fool? INEC was not supposed to have any excuse for not conducting the elections of 14 February; even though it were to have, it was not to have been inspired by the military.
Be that as it may, I still stand by my earlier submission, that the general elections slated for 28 March and 11 April may be another sham. This is premises on the fact that the powers that are undermining INEC now, are powerful enough to undermine its integrity.
How I wish there will be a change in this country, but not the type that the APC peddles –giving PDP a bad name just because it wants to kill it, and not for honest and genuine reasons.
Nigeria’s democracy is in a political dilemma of ‘guarantee’ and ‘assurance’ in numerous ramifications.