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Challenges of free and fair elections towards 2011 general elections
 

Challenges of free and fair elections towards 2011 general elections

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    Challenges of free and fair elections towards 2011 general elections Challenges of free and fair elections towards 2011 general elections Document Transcript

    •       CHALLENGES  OF  FREE  AND  FAIR  ELECTIONS  TOWARDS  2011  GENERAL   ELECTIONS    STRUCTURAL  PERSPECTIVES   Challenges  of  free  and  fair  election  in  any  democratic  setting  could  best  be  viewed   against   the   structural   setting   of   the   environment   i.e.   the   electoral  management   bodies   involved   in   the   conduct,   supervision   regulating   and  adjudicating  over  all  elections  in  that  jurisdiction.  Election  Management  Bodies  and  Democratic  System  Of  Government   Election   management   bodies   occupy   a   strategic   position   in   the   electoral  process  and  by  implication  are  decisive  for  the  success  of  any  democratic  system  of   government.   Since   they   are   charged   with   the   responsibility   of   organizing  elections,  their  omission  or  commission  could  make  or  mar  elections.   This   paper   examines   the   challenges   of   free   and   fair   election   and   the  relationship  between  election  management  bodies  and  the  institutionalization  of  democratic  governance.  The  focus  is  that  an  independent,  impartial,  transparent,  effective   and   efficient   electoral   management   body   is   a   prerequisite   for   the  institutionalization  of  a  viable  democratic  political  system.  The   variables   which   determine   a   credible   election   management   bodies   are:  Independence,  Transparency  and  Impartiality.   1    
    •  CONCEPT  OF  IMPARTIALITY   Impartiality  is  another  variable  which  determines  the  credibility  of  election  management  bodies.  Members  of  election  management  bodies  are  human  beings  and  are  likely  to  have  their  party  preferences.  However,  such  preferences  should  not  in  any  way  affect  their  official  duties.     Care   should   be   taken   while   recruiting   temporary   staff   who   are   employed  during   registration   and   election  exercises   to   ensure   that   card   carrying   or   die-­‐hard  partisans   are   not   recruited.   This   can   be   achieved   through   a   careful   screening  exercise.  An   impartial   election   management   body   deals   openly   and   on   equal   terms   with  each  political  party.  This  is  to  ensure  that  each  party  has  equal  access  to  the  state  –   owned   media,   freedom   to   campaign   and   respect   by   candidates   and   parties   of  limits  set  for  campaign  expenses.  NEEDS  TO  SITUATE  ELECTORAL  MALPRACTICES     There  is  a  general  need  to  situate  the  prevalence  of  electoral  malpractices  in  an  amoral  political  culture,  whose  thrust  is  anti-­‐democratic  in  significant  ways,  and   which   shows   general   indifference   to   the  desecration   of   the   electoral   process,  whereas,   much   lip   service   is   paid   to   upholding   the   sanity   of   the   electoral  process,   the   full   weight   of   the   law   is   not   generally   and   typically   brought   to   bear  on  those  who  desecrates  it,  except  in  some  rare  cases;  nor  has  the  moral  outrage  voiced   by   some   being   channeled.     Again,   except   in   a   number   of   rare   cases,   into  outbursts  of  spontaneous  collective  political  and  social  action  or  the  expression  of   2    
    •  people’s   power   within   the   ambit   of  the  law  that  would  shame  and  penalize  perpetrators  of  electoral  malpractices  and  deter  would-­‐be-­‐perpetrators.  PAINS  OF  ELECTORAL  LITIGATION   The  situation  is  understandably  fed  by  the  tardy  and  expensive  nature  of  the   country’s   judicial   process   and   a   legal   culture,   which   deliberately   encourages  violation  of  the  spirit  of  the  law,  through  taking  advantage  of  ambiguities  in  the  letter   of   the   law   and   hiding   behind   procedural   technicalities   in   the   judicial  process  to  frustrate  and  prolong  litigations.  The  result  is  a  cynical  resignation  and  a  general  disenchantment  with  the  electoral  process.   The   need   for   Nigerians   to   stand   and   defend   their   suffrage   irrespective   of  intimidation  of  any  sort  is  imperative.  We  must  be  ready  to  create  and   strategize  to   create   a   democratic   men   and   women   in   the   country   that   will   be   ready   to  defend  their  votes.   In  handling  this  subject  at  hand,  I  feel  challenged  because  of  my  experience  as  a  victim  of  election  fraud  which  spanned  about  four  years  in  my  state.    In  fact,  I  feel   more   challenged   because   I   had   an   insider   account   of   the   details   of   the  intricacies  and  politics  of  election  crisis  in  Ekiti  State  in  the  last  few  years.    Coming  from  the  background  of  a  politician  who  shares  similar  experience  with  Governor  Adams   Oshiomhole   on   mandate   stealing   through   the   mighty   powers   of   the   ruling  party  at  the  Federal  level,  it  is  incumbent  upon  me  to  share  my  experiences  and  what  I  consider  the  viable  options  for  electoral  sanctity  in  our  country  Nigeria.   The  credibility  or  otherwise  of  electoral  process  becomes  one  major  factor  that   determines   the   acceptability   index   of   a   nation   in   the   wider   comity   of   nations   3    
    •  where   respect   for   the   choice   of   the   people     in   electoral   process  has   contributed   greatly   to   the   economy   well-­‐being   and   social   security   of   the  people  in  Africa.     In  recent  history  in  Africa,  we  have  seen  that  played  out  in  South  Africa  and  Ghana.     In   these   countries,   not   only   has   the   modern   world   seen   that   these   two  countries  hold  much  promise  for  their  people,  but  also  that  they  have  become  a  reference  point  as  a  model  of  transparent  electoral  process  in  African  continent.   For  Nigeria,  sadly  one  of  the  countries  that  gained  early  independence  from  colonial  rule,  the  stories  that  have  emerged  are  sad  memories  of  electoral  frauds,  which   had   led   to   sudden   changes   in   government   with   the   succeeding  governments   posting   worse   results   in   the   conduct   of   elections.     For   instance,  while   the   Western   Region   parliament   poll   fraud   led   to   a   crisis   that   snowballed  into   the   emergency   rule   that   triggered   further   crisis   in   the   First   Republic   that  eventually   led   to   the   civil   war,   the   Second   Republic   election   that   Nigerians  thought  would  mark  a  beginning  of  electoral  sanity  turned  out  to  be  a  veritable  impetus   for   the   military   take-­‐over   of   government.     Massive   electoral   heists   in  various   parts   of   the   country   and   the   backlash   in   people’s   angst   was   what   the  military  needed  to  sack  the  Second  Republic.   What  could  have  been  a  safety  valve  was  truncated  by  the  military  when  it  annulled  the  freest  and  fairest  election  in  June  1993.    What  followed  were  mere  selections  of  candidates  by  godfathers  in  the  primaries  which  further  set  the  tone  for  desperation  by  the  contending  parties  in  which  case  the  parties  controlled  by  moneybags   and   vested   interests   always   carry   the   day   against   the   current   of  people   preference,   which   further   erodes   the   confidence   of   the   people   in   the   4    
    •  sanctity   of   the   ballot   box.   For   example   in   Nigeria   in   2007,   the  Party  that  controlled  the  commending  height  of  the  Federal  authorities  made  no  pretence   about   its   insistence   on   abridging   the   right   of   the   people   in   the   choice   of  their   leaders.     Votes   were   allocated   to   the   candidates   of   the   ruling   Party   at   the  detriment  of  more  popular  candidates  in  opposition  Parties.   Litigations   of   the   election   tribunals   clearly   showed   that   things   were   not  working   according   to   the   expectations   of   Nigerians   who   desired   transparent  process  of  electoral  contests.    Several  years  after  the  poll,  those  who  fraudulently  found  their  ways  to  the  seat  of  power  were  illegally  directing  the  affairs  of  their  states  using  state  funds  to  prosecute  their  cases  at  the  tribunals.    While  impostors  closed   their   eyes   to   the   shame   they   have   brought   upon   themselves   and   the  nation,   the   highly   partisan   and   irresponsible   electoral   umpire,   the   Independent  National  Electoral  Commission  (INEC),  did  not  help  matters.   Often  in  hand-­‐in-­‐glove  with  the  ruling  Party,  INEC  under  Prof  Maurice  Iwu  showed  itself  as  the  worst  in  the  supervision  of  electoral  contests  in  Nigeria.   The   victory   we   celebrate   today   in   Edo   State   is   one   singular   relish   of  electoral   fraud   by   the   ruling   Party   in   cahoot   with   the   electoral   umpire.     By   the  Appeal  Court  ruling,  Comrade  Adams  Oshiomhole  clearly  won  his  election  in  2007  only  for  him  to  retrieve  his  mandate  two  years  after.   The  period  of  litigation  in  court  in  Edo  State  clearly  showed  the  side-­‐effect  of   illegitimacy   marked   by   decayed   infrastructure,   mismanagement   of   funds   and  general   dislocation   in   the   governance   process   as   we   have   seen   in   Kenya   in  December  2007,  and  in  Cameroon  and  Zimbabwe  in  2008.  The  same  played  itself   5    
    •  out   in   Ekiti.     From   our   experience   in   the   last   few   days   after   our  inauguration,   decayed   infrastructure   hallmarked   almost   four   years   administration  in  Ekiti  State.   Indeed,  the  worst  form  of  electoral  fraud  manifested  in  the  2009  rerun  in  the   Ekiti   State   governorship   election   in   which   I   was   the   prime   victim.     That  singular   sordid   experience   put   Nigeria   on   the   hall   of   infamy   in   election   process  across  the  world.    Widely  criticized  as  the  worst  form  of  poll  management  in  the  choice  of  the  people’s  leaders,  the  world  rose  in  unison  to  put  a  question  mark  on  Nigeria’s   image   as   a   country   that   can   take   a   front   in   modelling   democracy   a  system   of   government   that   can   drive   a   free   and   just   society,   which   of   course   is  one  factor  that  in  turn  drives  development  and  growth.    It  is  however  gratifying  that   the   revelation   at   the   election   tribunal   and   the   perseverance   of   Ekiti   people  gave  them  victory,  which  was  celebrated  across  the  globe.   But  all  these  inadequacies,  both  man-­‐made  and  human  errors,  which  have  hampered   Nigeria’s   march   to   electoral   Promised   Lands   can   be   taken   care   of   if  deliberate   policies   and   measures   are   put   in   place.     Even   though   reform   process  that  could  cleanse  the  conduct  of  election  in  Nigeria  was  instituted,  what  we  have  seen  thereafter  clearly  pointed  out  that  Nigeria  as  a  nation  has  missed  the  mark.       It   is   however   regrettable   that   after   the   efforts   and   funds   expended   on   this,  what  can  be  said  today  about  that  initiative  is  a  resounding  loss  of  faith.    This  is  more  so  as  the  authorities  of  government  that  ought  to  add  fillip  to  the  rebuilding  of  acceptable  conduct  of  elections  are  themselves  stumbling  blocks  in  the  way  of  free   and   fair   elections..     For   example,   the   National   Assembly   has   thrown   out  Justice  Mohammed  Uwais  recommendation  on  the  appointment  of  INEC  leaders   6    
    •  by   the   National   Judicial   Council   (NJC),   which   should   have   served  as  a  neutral  organ  of  government  in  charge  of  recruiting  capable  hands  in  election  management   instead   of   leaving   the   appointment   in   the   hands   of   a   partisan  President    whose  choice  of  INEC  officials    is  first  condition  for  suspicion  among  the  opposition  parties.   As  it  stands  today,  particularly  in  reference  to  the  last  rerun  election,  it  is  clear  that  deliberate  measures  have  to  be    put  in  place  for  a  free  and  fair  elections  in   2011,   as   it   is   believed   that   it   is   not   the   electoral   laws   that   are   actually  responsible   for   the   inadequacies   in   our   election   process   but   the   actors,   most  often    in  the  ruling  Party  who  employ  do  or  die  tactics  to  subvert  the  people’s  will.  They   do   this   through   devious   manipulation   and   government   machineries     at   their  disposal.    These  elements  are  still  around,  which  further  hightens  fears  that  2011  polls  may  as  well  succumb  to  the  evil  machinations  of  dor-­‐or-­‐die  politicians.   Indeed,   what   actually   bothers   the   minds   of   Nigerians   is   that   those   who  should  ordinarily  act  as  statesmen  and  vanguards  of  social  change  are  themselves  the   architects   of   the   current   sorry   state   of   our   electoral   process.     For   instance,  former  President  Olusegun  Obasanjo,  who  Nigerian  State  has  so  much  invested  in  for   both   personal   comfort   and   robust   international   stature   later   turned   against  Nigerians   by   getting   himself   involved   in   unbridled   manipulation   of   state   power   to  strangulate   electoral   space.     In   his   avowed   commitment   to   that   sordid   agenda,  Obasanjo  declared  to  the  bewildered  Nigerians  that  2007  general  elections  would  be  a  do-­‐or-­‐die  affair.    What  truly  followed  during  the  elections  was  an  audacious  poll  robbery  through  thuggery,  ballot  stuffing,  votes  manipulations,  compromise   7    
    •  of   INEC   officials     through   intimidation,   complicity   by  security   agencies   in   favour   of   the   ruling   Party,   particularly   as   witnessed   during  rerun  poll  in  Ekiti  State.   In   fact,   Ekiti   State   rerun   in   which   I   was   a   prime   victim   provides   me   with  enough   insight   on   the   challenges   the   nation   may   face   in   2011   elections.     What  reinforces  this  line  of  thought  is  that  even  though  the    late  President  Umaru  Yar-­‐Adua  admitted  that  his  election  was  fraught  with  irregularities    and  indeed  set    up  an   election   reform   panel   to   fine-­‐tune     the   nation’s   electoral   process,   what  followed   in   the   few   States     where   rerun   or   bye-­‐elections   were   held   even   with  Professor  Attahiru  Jega  at  the  driver  seat  gives  no  hope  that  we  may  not  witness  a  worst  scenario  in  the  next  election.  It  is  in  this  light    that  Nigerians    must  insist  on  minimum  standard  that  guarantees    the   sanctity   of   the   ballot   box,   which   of   course   remains   the   vehicle   for   a   stable  government     that   in   turns   guarantees   socio-­‐economic   development.     The   Ekiti  State   scenario   under   Mr   Segun   Oni   has   produced     enough   evidence   that   the  problem   of   illegitimacy   is   unquantifiable.     Apart   from   litigations,   the   fear   of   the  unknown   unsettles   the   man   on   the   driver’s   seat,   thereby   limiting   his   scope   of  developing  strategies  to  address  the  state  problems.   Part   of   this   is   the   issue   of   seeking   favours   in   many   quarters.     This   goes   with  unnecessary   application   of   state’s   funds   to   seek   favours   from   both   real   and  imagined  influence  peddlers.   To   guide   against   the   identified   lapses   in   2011   general   elections,   all   these  problems  need  to  be  tackled  and  new  strategies    evolved  for  Nigerians  for  once  to   8    
    •  beat   their   chests   that   indeed   they   are   in   the   starting   block   to  grow  democracy  for  social  change  and  development.   The  challenges  of  free  and  fair  elections  are  indeed  enormous.    They  start  from   the   outset   of   electoral   process   namely   party   primaries.     The   challenge   we  face   through   party   organs   on   this   is   great.     We   have   the   problem   of   manipulating  the   choice   of   party   candidates   through   overbearing   attitude   of   political  godfathers   and   manipulation   of   the   entire   process   to   achieve   pre-­‐determined  ends.    This  manifests  in  the  circumvention  of  the  provisions  of  party  constitution  to  secure  undue  advantage  in  the  process  of  selecting  delegates  that  would  elect  party  candidates.    This  is  already  creating  a  serious  problem  in  the  ruling  party  at  the   Federal   level.     It   should   be   noted   that   the   current   stalemate   in   the   second  amendment   to   the   Electoral   Act   is   as   a   result   of   foisting   an   agenda   that   would  make   for   direct   delegates   to   participate   in   the   election   of   candidates.   By   this  arrangement,  personal  aides  and  political  appointees  would  become  delegates  for  the   selection   of   party   candidates.     This   of   course   can   only   lead   to   an   advantage   in  favour   of   the   Principals,   which     questions   the   credibility   of   the   choice   of    candidates   by   the     appointing   bosses   who   call   the   shots.     The   desperation   that  goes  with  this  is  unquantifiable.    Apart  from  limiting  the  scope  of  people’s  choice,  the  candidates  that  emerge  through  this  process  often  become  willing  tools  in  the  hands   of   those   who   plotted   their   ascendancy.     We   have   seen   this   in   Ekiti   State  where   we   had   no   evidence   that   Mr   Segun   Oni   had   any   agenda   other   than   to  satisfy  the  whims  and  caprices  of  those  that  foisted  him  on  the  people.   More  troubling  is  the  law  governing  elections  in  Nigeria.    As  we  speak,  no  one  is  sure  of  how  the  new  Electoral  Law  will  look  like  except  that  at  the  moment,   9    
    •  the   most   crucial   element   in   the   election   reform   process   has   been  thrown  out  by  the  National  Assembly  whose  members  believe  that  having  a  truly  independent   electoral   umpire   will   undermine   their   return   to   power,   hence   the  rejection   of   the   recommendation   in   the   Mohammed   Uwais   report     making   the  Nigeria   Judicial   Council   the   recruitment   authority   of   INEC   officials   to   guarantee  the  independence  of  INEC.   One   other   element   critical   to   free   and   fair   elections   is   the   voter  registration.    As  seen  in  Ekiti  State  in  the  April  27,  2007  election,  the  problem  of  underage   registration   and   multiple   registration   set   the   tone   for   election  manipulations.    This  clearly  showed  at  the  tribunal  hearings  of  the  litigation  that  arose  from  the  fraud  that  characterized  that  election.    In  some  of  the  registers,  it  was  discovered  that  multiple  registration  led  to  the  inaccurate  number  of  voters.    The   tragedy   of   this   is   that   such   fraud   did   not   arise   out   of   human   error   but   a  deliberate  plan  by  politicians  to  have  numerical  advantage  in  election  results.    For  instance   in   Ifaki   Ekiti,   Mr   Segun   Oji,   who   usurped   the   powers   of   Governor   for  almost   four   years,   registered     in   more   than   one   place.     In   one   place,   he   was  registered  as  an  artisan  while  in  the  other,  he  registered  as  a  civil  servant.    This  and  other  several  instances  were  revealed  at  the  tribunal  hearing.   Closely   related   to   this   is   the   problem   of   adequate   time   for   credible  registration.   As   we   speak,   no   one   is   sure   as   to   when   voters   registration   will  commence.   Apart   from   the   bureaucratic   bottleneck   that   dogs   the   award   of  contract   for   the     Direct   Data   Imaging   for   voter   registration,   the   ability   of   the  contractors   and   reliability   of   the   machines   are   not   what   can   be   guaranteed   at  least   for   now.     What   this   can   expose   the   system   to   is   an   ad-­‐hoc   arrangement   10    
    •  including   the   use   of   the   discredited     voters’   register   to  conduct  2011  general  elections.    Even  if  the  equipment  and  other  logistics  are  well  on  ground,  one  other  important  factor  Nigerians  must  contend  with  is  INEC  personnel.    As  we  saw  in  Ekiti  State  ,  particularly   during   rerun   election,   it   is   clear   that   the   most   daunting   challenge  facing   the   electoral   umpire     today   is   the   crisis   of   credibility   on   the   part   of   INEC  officials.  With  particular  reference  to  Ekti  rerun,  we  all  saw  the  shame  that  characterized  the  entire  conduct  of  the  elections.    For  instance,  Mrs  Ayoka  Adebayo,  who  was  the   Ekiti   Resident   Electoral   Commissioner,   in   the   midst   of   the   announcement   of  the  results  refused  to  conclude  the  declaration  of  the  results,  citing  pressures  to  announce  fake  results.    She  resigned  and  went  into  hiding    only  for  her    to  emerge  days  later  after  she  was  declared  wanted  by  the  Federal  authorities  to  announce  the  result  she  had  earlier  rejected.  Also   at   the   tribunal   hearings   were   revelations   over   official   complicity     by   INEC  officials.     It   was   clear   through   the   pieces   of   evidence   by   INEC   officials   that   they  were   choreographed   to   follow   same   pattern   of   evidence   presentations.     But   for  the   ingenuity   of   the   prosecuting   counsel,   some   INEC   officials   would   have   gone  away  with  their  fake  evidence  during  cross  examination  sessions.    More   intriguing   was   the   collaboration   between   the   security   agencies   and   INEC  officials  particularly  as  seen  in  Ido  Osi.    The  security  agents  literally  provided  cover   11    
    •  for   INEC   officials   to   perpetrate   fraud.       For   instance,   as   the   PDP  thugs   set   fire   on   INEC   building   at   Ido   Ekiti,   the   security   agents   watched   on   in  ecstasy.    And  during  tribunal  hearing,  police  declared  that  the  building  was  burnt  by   unknown   men,   even   as   a   PDP   member   testified   that   he   led   a   band   of   thugs  that   set   the   building   on   fire   as   policemen   watched   because   the   arsonists   were  PDP  members.    Even   though   all   these   atrocities   were   reported   by   the   monitoring   teams  comprising  NGOs,  members  of  international  agencies  and  journalists  ,  it  was  clear  that   these   observers   were   overwhelmed   by   the   inadequacies   of   INEC   in   providing  a  conducive  environment  for  the  observers  to  functions  optimally.    For  instance,  some  remote  parts  of  certain  areas  could  not  be  accessed  by  the  observers,  and  most   of   these   areas   were   fertile   grounds   for   election   manipulations.     It   was  therefore  not  surprising  that  in  some  voting  centres  t,  the  number  of  accredited  voters  were  less  than  the  results  returned.    In  other  words,  the  results  returned  were   higher   than   the   number   of   those   physically   present   to   vote   during   the  election.    Another   problem   is   the   avalanche   of   corruption   charges   against   the   Judges   of   the  election   petitions   tribunal.     The   Osun   State   presented   a   bizarre   spectacle   of  shame   and   corrupt   conduct   of   the   election   petition   tribunal   Judges.     In   the   first  tribunal   that   tried   Raufu   Aregbesola’s   case   incontrovertible   evidence     was   proved  in   the   discovery   of   correspondence   between   the   defence   counsel   and   the   Judges.    In   a   drama   that   shocked   Nigerians,   the   calls   log   of   MTN   was   shown   where   the   12    
    •  defence   counsel   within   the   hours   of  court  hearing  were  exchanging  text   messages   with   the   Judges   on   the   direction   to   follow   during   the   cross-­‐examination.     This   led   to   the   quashing   of   the   tribunal   judgement   for   another  tribunal  to  be  set  up  to  retry  the  petition.    If  Osun  case  was    bizarre,  the  Ekiti  case  was  intriguing.  Against  the  run  of  common  sense   and   application   of   law,   the   Judges   freely   awarded   reliefs   to   the   law  breakers   in   the   case.   For   instance,   the   Judges   said   the   ACN   members   burnt   the  INEC  office  even  when  evidence  by  a  PDP  member  incontrovertibly  suggested  PDP  thugs   torched   the   building.     He   was   never   cross   examined   to   discredit   his  evidence.    INEC  official,  Innocent  Akao,  in  open  court  disowned  the  results  declaring  Mr  Oni  as  the  winner.    The  Judges  also  said  Mrs  Ayoka  never  resigned  even  though  the  police,   a   co-­‐defendant   in   the   case,   admitted   that   the   woman   actually   resigned  and   was   declared   wanted   to   defend   the   allegations   in   her   resignation   letter.    Figures  in  unsigned  or  altered  documents  were  awarded  to  the  defendant  by  the  Judges,   and   all   evidence   of   violence   was   overlooked     by   the   Judges   in   favour   of  the  defendants.  All   these   lapses   militated   greatly   against   the   transparency   of   the   2007   elections  and  the  rerun  polls  that  followed.     13    
    •  To   mitigate   all   these   shortcomings,   therefore,   the  institutions  of  electoral  process  must  be  strengthened  to  ensure  credible  polls  in  2011.     This   must   start   with   internal   democracy   within   the   parties   to   ensure  credible   primaries   to   elect   party   candidates.     Credible   primaries   will   ensure   the  elimination   of   imposition   of   candidates   by   godfathers.     The   proposed  amendments  to  the  Electoral  Act  must  be  credible  enough  to  ensure  the  right  of  party  members    and  voters  generally  to  freely  vote  for  candidates  of  their  choice.  It  is  gratifying  that  Governor  Adams  Oshiomhole  actually  started  the  crusade  for  free   and   fair   balloting   through   his   one-­‐man   one-­‐vote   crusade.     This   initiative   is  commendable  as  it  remains  the  only  option  that  can  generate  stable  democracy  in  our  country.    All  encumbrances  on  the  way  of  effective  sourcing,  deployment  and  application  of  equipment  for  voter  registration  must  be  checked  and  effective  security  of  these  equipment  maintained.  To  ensure  credible  conduct  of  INEC  officials,  recruitment  strategies   must   be   strengthened   to   ensure   that   only   non-­‐partisan   Nigerians   are  on  board  of  INEC.    This  is  where  Uwais’  report  is  relevant.  The  NJC  should  be  put  in  charge    of  recruiting  credible  Nigerians  to  conduct  elections.    It   is   also   important   that   the   functions   of   the   security   agencies   in   election  monitoring   be   redefined   to   insulate   them   from   partisan.     Among   this   is   to   hold  the   security   agents   accountable   for   all   the   lapses   in   the   areas   where   they  supervise   elections..     Also   relevant   is   the   training   of   the   NGOs   in   election   14    
    •  monitoring   activities   while   they   are   equipped   with   necessary  tools  to  carry  out  their  duties  particularly  in  difficult  terrains.  It   is   also   important   to   introduce   Election   Offences   Tribunals   to   try   election  offenders.    This  will  act  as  a  check  on  the  activities  of  election  riggers.  More  importantly,  one-­‐man,  one-­‐vote  crusade  must  be  taken  to  all  corners  of  the  country.    These  are  the  challenges  we  face  today  in  our  nation  as  we  march  to  strengthen  the  institutions  of  democracy  for  economy  growth  and  progress.    The  challenge  is  more   daunting   because   there   are   road   blocks   on   the   way,   some   of   which   are  deliberately   created   by   politicians   who   are   averse   to   decent   way   of   conducting  men’s  affairs.    It  is  a  challenge  we  face  both  individually  and  collectively  to  build  a  society  that  can  raise  its  head  in  the  comity  of  nations  that  are  today  dictating  the  pace  in  shaping  policies  for  growth  and  development  across  the  globe     Another  election  is  around  the  corner,  just  about  five  months  to  come,  the  INEC   chairman   Prof.   Attaihiru   Jega   said   his   biggest   problem   is   time   and   not  money.  Many  have  argued  that  the  time-­‐table  for  the  polls  is  just  too  narrow  for  any   meaningful   result   to   be   achieved,   but   the   biggest   headache   of   the   majority   is  neither  the  time  nor  the  money,  it  is  whether  Nigeria  can  indeed  hold  credible  polls.  Will  the  country  make  vote  rigging  unattractive?  Will  the  electorate  look  away  from  the  fleeting  offers  of  bribe  from  desperate  politicians  to  vote  as  their  conscience  leads  them?     15    
    •  Will   they   vote   and   insist   that   their  votes  must  count?  Will  the  authorities  do  everything  possible  to  break  the  jinx?  Or  will  we  walk  the  Oshiomole,  Mimiko  and  Fayemi  path  again?  Never  and  never.   Governor   Oshiomhole,   ladies   and   gentlemen,   I   thank   you   very   much   for  giving   me   this   opportunity   to   once   again   ventilate   what   I   know   about   the   crisis   of  confidence  we  have  about  electoral  process  in  the  country.    It  is  hoped  that  all  the  issues   raised   shall   be   of   immense   advantage   for   us   to   rethink   Nigeria   where  opportunities  are  provided  for  the  citizens  to  rediscover  themselves.  It  is  only  in  the  atmosphere  of  freedom  that  we  can  release  our  entrepreneurial  potentialities  to  grow  our  economy  for  the  survival  of  our  great  country  Nigeria.    Thanks  and  God  bless  you  all.        Dr.  Kayode  Fayemi.  2010     16