The 2023 general election has ended, but the brouhaha it came with is still visible and this is a great threat to the nation's well being. The method adopted by Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth in the conduct of her just concluded general elections has left citizens of the country and the world in dismay and disappointment. This article is centered on the problems that facilitates the failure of the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body saddled with the responsibility of organizing election in Nigeria, to organize and conduct a free and fair election which will be accepted not only by the citizen of Nigeria but the world at large. Furthermore, this article is also written to highlight the solutions and recommendation to the failure of the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the just concluded general election.
In the congratulatory letter written by the British Prime Minister, Rushi Sunak which was directed to the President elect of Nigeria Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the British Prime Minister urge the president elect to see to the improvement on the part of the electoral body and also to assist in the proper execution of the provision of the Electoral Act 2022.
The enactment of a new Electoral Act in the year 2022 and the introduction of the use of BIVAS has been a dawn to the progress of democracy in Nigeria. However, the implementation of the provision of this act is one of the causes of the failure of INEC in the just concluded election.
Another major cause of the failure of INEC in the just concluded election is lack of adequate security at the polling unit. Nigeria as a country has been battling with the issue of insecurity and this has been a great threat to the conduct of a free and fair election in the country. Some of these threats ranging from banditry in the Northern part of the country, to the Unknown Gun men in the Eastern part and Kidnapping in the Western part of the country. This are issue affecting the stability of Nigeria as a nation. The failure of the government to tackle insecurity before the commencement of election led to a whole lot of disenfranchisement of the citizens.
This can be seen in the number of eligible voters in states like Anambra, Abuja, Ondo and some Northern states. This problem is a slap on the face of Nigerians at home and in diaspora.
Mass illiteracy has also contributed to the failure of INEC in the just concluded general election.
The inability of some citizens especially those in the Northern part to read and write makes it easy for them to be exploited and manipulated by selfish political agents in order to vote for them. This also is a major problem affecting some people in the Eastern part of the country. Illiteracy is a cankerworm which has eaten deep into the flesh of Nigeria’s democracy making it hard and difficult to be achieved.
Lack of proper political education to the voters on how they should exercise their civil rights. Some electorate especially those voting for the first time are not well and properly educated on how voting is being done. The government and INEC failed in this aspect to ensure a hitch free election.
Furthermore, the issue of ballot snatching by political thugs and hoodlums is not a new thing in the political system of Nigeria, this had been a major issue and set back to the achievements of a free and fair election in Nigeria. This problem has been in existence even before the establishment of INEC, all the past electoral Commission including Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) and National Electoral Commission (NEC) which later metamorphosed to INEC also experience this menace, there is no permanent solution in place to eradicate this issue, as all attempts has ended in failure. This menace discourage citizens from carrying out their civic right and responsibility as a citizen of Nigeria.
These among many others are causes of the failure of INEC in the just concluded election. However, for every problem there is a solution attached to it. The solution to this electoral defects are as follows:
• Government in conjunction with INEC should ensure that there is the availability of good network service which will enhance the efficiency of the Biomodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) in quick accreditation of voters and speedy release of each polling unit result to the portal created by INEC (I-Rev) in order to ensure its transparency and accountability.
• Installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to all polling unit to ensure the strict compliance to the electoral act by the INEC officials and the electorates. This is also helpful in curbing the issue of electoral malpractice and violence.
• Introduction of E-Voting System, INEC should emulate other developed countries by introducing Electronic Voting System whereby electorate will seat at the comfort of their home and vote for the candidate of their choice without any fear or favour. This will go a long way to improve our democracy in Nigeria. It will also give chance for voters to vote wherever they are.
• Agencies working with INEC which includes all securities officers, ad-hoc officers and other agencies should be given a different day to cast their votes, to ensure a free and fair election without any form of disenfranchisement.
• Security personnel should be posted to all polling unit in all the 774 local government in Nigeria. If voters see uncompromising security personnel in their polling unit, they will be rest assured that they are safe from any threat or electoral violence in such polling unit.
• There should be an existence of mutual cooperation between the Independence National Electoral Commission and other Non Governmental Organization (NGO) to ensure that positive political education is being impacted on the electorates before election.
• Electoral offenders should be punished publicly if found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. The proceeding of such a case should be done fast without victimization by any politician or political party.
• Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) should ensure that her officials and the voting materials arrives at their various destination (i.e polling unit) early and they should curb the common practice of late coming which makes some voters return home without voting upon loosing their patience after standing in the sun for hours while waiting patiently for the arrival of the INEC official. This negative practice fuels political apathy.
In conclusion, if the above recommendations and solutions are implemented by both Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the government, there will surely be a free and fair election which the country and the world clamours for. Nigerias will be free from all forms of electoral malpractice and the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.
• CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999 ( as altered).
• ELECTORAL ACT 2022
• AN INTERVIEW ON HARMONY FM FRCN(RADIO NIGERIA) IDOFIAN, 103.5 FM, KWARA STATE, NIGERIA ON THE REVIEW OF THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTION .
OTHER PUBLICATIONS BY THE WRITER
• A. O TOHEEB (2022) AN APPRAISAL ON THE RIGHT OF PRISONERS VIS-A-VIS PARTICIPATION IN AN ELECTION .
• A. O TOHEEB (2022) OVERVIEW OF SPORT LAW.
• A. O TOHEEB (2023) THE LEGAL RIGHTS OR POWERS OF THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA TO REDESIGN THE NATIONAL CURRENCY
• A. O TOHEEB (2023) THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTION: WAY FORWARD.
Toheeb Abdulsamod Obasanjo is a sophomore law student of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. He is interested in Advocacy, Academic Writing, Legal Writing/History, Activism and plethora of positivism.
He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.