…SAYS NO INCIDENT FORM IN 2019 ELECTION
By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Barr. Mike Igini, has described Nigerian politicians as the greatest threats to democracy and the worst set of people ever produced in the country, adding that most of the problems encountered in the country during elections are created by the politicians.
He made the assertion on Friday in his keynote address during the 4th distinguished annual lecture organized by the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE) in honour of a renowned engineering icon, Engr. Rev. Ette I. Etteh, held at Eemjm Hotels & Suites, Uyo.
Barr. Igini, who described the theme of the lecture “2019: Making Votes Count for the Sustenance of Democracy in Nigeria”, as tremendously engaging, expectably in content, significance and topicality in regards to the upcoming elections, bared his mind on the secret practices of some politicians in the country to the detriment of the electorates.
He explained that periodic election, which is the period where the commitment of institution of states are tested in terms of their commitment to ideal of that state, is key to democracy, adding that one of the errors made in the past decades is leaving politics to a group of people with the belief or fear that politics is dirty, which results to politicians designing and determining the policy arena.
According to him, “The greatness of Nigeria will be determined by the choices we will make from time to time because everything rises and falls with leadership. Let’s look at the national project that is ahead of us – election, a one activity that is all-involving that nations embark upon in this time. Election, in selection of leadership, is very key. A successful election is a multi-stakeholders’ responsibilities,” he stated.
The REC boss disclosed that seven key stakeholders will determine how Nigeria will go in 2019 such as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is saddled with the constitution and power to organize, undertake and supervise elections to offices such as presidential, governorship, and National and States House of Assemblies, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Security agencies; and Political parties.
Other key stakeholders he enumerated are the Judiciary, Electorates, Media and the civil society organisations, adding that out of these seven, three are key – INEC, security agencies and the judiciary.
“Tension is rising already because of 2019 elections. The international communities are worried because of the way the political classes have become threats to our democracy, thereby demarketing our country. We have had a total of 396 court cases and a record of 306 certified true copies for people to go to court, just for the just concluded primary elections. It has become a do-or-die affair.
“Election is a period when the people renew the journey of that region in terms of the policies that evolved in the last period and the individuals who were involved in that policy. It is an opportunity to assess those governing us or those who want to take over in terms of their wish list and what they have done,” he further stated.
Barr. Igini however revealed that there is an improvement on what he termed Election Day logistics for 2019, adding that a travel ban will be placed on all politicians in the country and their families during the elections in order for them to stay back in the country during elections to have a taste of the violence they want to create in the country.
The REC helmsman assured that ballot papers and result sheets shall be delivered in the entire 119,973 polling units in the country come 2019, saying “They will be audited by party agents, duly accredited observers, and Nigerians will express their choices of leaders and their choices will be respected, counted and taken into account.
“2019 should be a consolidation of our democracy. We must abide by the globally accepted matrix of measuring credible elections. A rigged and manipulated election connotes absent election. If votes fail to count, Nigerians will lose faith in the ballots and democracy.
“The absent election will make impossible the oppression of the law of anticipated reaction which says ‘the reason why they perform in office is not because of the last election but fear of the next election’. What has controlling effect on those elected is not the last election but the fear of the next election. If there is connivance by bodies or institutions saddled with that responsibility in such a way that people know that they have already won the next election, the people will not be respected. The fear of the people is the beginning of responsible leadership which is what election is all about.”
Speaking further, Barr. Igini said, “There will be no use of incident form in Nigeria during the 2019 elections, because it was used to torpedo in order to sabotage Nigerians. We have designed a register where the incident will be recorded. There have been situations where Nigerian politicians would boast that he/she is on ground but if they are allowed in a room with the ballot papers, they will help themselves.
“We are working assiduously to take ownership of the process and return power to the people. The results at the polling units will be pasted for people to see all the figures and the duplicates that will be given to party agents. Because of electoral robbery in Nigeria, the ballot papers and results have been customized, that of unit A cannot be taken to unit B.
“The phenomenon of vote buying which has assumed the position of epidemic is the re-response to how the process of security is being tightened. They now go to the electorates. Regrettably, the very electorates we are protecting our collecting money from them. It is their re-response to the difficulty of rigging election. Poverty and the high level of illiteracy are another two major threats to democracy. The ballot paper will not mean to anything to that man or woman who has the challenge of stomach infrastructure.
“The do-or-die mentality, win-at-all-cost irrespective of what happens in the society, vote buying, and desecrating of the ballots as well as volatile comments and hate speeches are problems in the country. The most challenging is the level of impunity.
Barr. Igini however reiterated the irrevocable commitment of REC and INEC to integrity-driven electoral process, as credible election is what will restore hope and rekindle confidence in the sanctity of the ballots as the best means of choosing who should lead in a society.
He added the commission will never compromise or surrender the core value of independence, impartiality and transparency that will result to a credible election, rather, it will demonstrate courage of conviction to be true to them.