Ekiti Elections 2022: Smooth exercise a referendum on INEC, preparatory election to 2023

Ekiti governorship election has eventually come and gone though leaving behind disproportionate feelings not only with the winner and losers but their teeming supporters as well. However, retrospecting, every Nigerian is a winner going by the hitch-free conduct of the exercise.

Indeed, INEC, Ekiti electorates, and security personnel won given the smooth and prompt deployment of materials as well as the arrival of voters and INEC officials at different polling units. The security architecture that ensured the peaceful conduct of the exercise is commendable. We have witnessed incremental improvements from earlier elections conducted in Nigeria. This is a wake-up call for them to explore and implement more innovations that would better the exercise in the 2023 general elections.

Nigeria’s electoral management umpire, INEC has earned more than a pass mark in her conduct of the governorship election on Saturday in Ekiti courtesy of her wielding sec. 63 of the electoral act which empowers her to deploy measures deemed suitable in the conduct of elections in the country.

The deployment and use of the bi-modal accreditation device (Beever) as against the previous card readers which had minimal capacity, has reasonably impacted the speed and accuracy at which voters were accredited and cleared to vote simultaneously at polling units. This is a contrast from the previous arrangement requiring no incident forms and reducing stress on the part of voters where before now their vitals were first captured before the individual returns after a stipulated period to vote. The technology effectively diminished voter apathy which is reflected in the improved numbers, though moderate, of participants in the exercise.

In addition, transferring the results from the polling units to the central collation center was quick thus diminishing human elements like snatching of ballot boxes to circumvent and compromise the process, aside from other electorial vices. This is why even in the previous Anambra governorship election where Beever was a test run, there were no litigations from candidates regarding the results unlike what plays out in preceding elections.

This innovation deployed by INEC in the conduct of the exercise in Ekiti is confidence-building and confidence restoring to Nigerians as collation of results for instance which used to be a huge challenge often done under the cover of the night in past elections was effectively curtailed.

Democracy in Nigeria is progressing and responding to innovations but LENS (online and tabloid) is worried about what will become of INEC after 2023 in her capacity to conduct even better elections in 2027 and beyond. This reservation is not unconnected to the intimate link between the attitude of the government of the day and the powers they are willing to cede to the electoral management body.

LENS is equally concerned about the dangerous trend of financial and in some cases, material inducements of the electorates by politicians. The Saturday governorship election in Ekiti State was not insulated from this abnormality. An election is a social contract between the politician and the electorates which should be expressed in decorum. This untoward action not only devalues the electorates but as well impacts democracy in a negative way.

LENS is of the opinion that punitive punishments like weighty fines and reasonably abnormal jail terms backed by law should be meted to givers and receivers of inducements as deterrents. In addition, any politician involved in electoral fraud should be barred from contesting elective positions as well as being appointed to serve in public offices. Electoral offenses courts manned by qualified and morally upright persons should be strategically positioned in catchment political cells for on-the-spot adjudication of cases to forestall delay and possible meddling.

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