Conducting a credible election is not an open heart surgery. There is no space science involved in holding a transparent, free and fair election. In spite of the peculiarities of the Nigerian environment, in spite of the deviousness of the typical politician; however the limited power of the electoral body, an impartial election is still possible in Nigeria.
A lot depends on the disposition of electoral officers. Some are often partisan, some compromised. But perhaps, the greatest internal impediment to successful polls is the self subservience of the electoral body’s leadership to the government in power.
If the leadership has a sense of self worth, a sense of societal collective and a sense of the judgment of history, then it is on the way to executing its mission. It is then possible to perceive the government as part of and not the state itself. Governments will come and go but the state endures. Justice is considered the most efficacious drug for strengthening the state.
Electoral bodies in Africa and the rest of the developing world have a big lesson to learn from the nullification of Kenya’s 2017 presidential election by the country’s Supreme Court in September. The simple but powerful point to be taken away from that landmark judgment is that the heavens will not fall just because an election outcome has not favoured the ruling party.
The deluge of petitions at election tribunals after every important poll is a strong indication of bungled election. In the sixteen years of PDP’s reign of impunity, Anambra State consistently recorded the highest number of election petitions in the country. The present leadership of INEC has a chance with the November 18 governorship poll to chart a new course. Further, it is an election in which the citizens will be voting both to retain their political identity and sustain the momentum of development or walk into limbo.
Professors Humphrey Nwosu and Attahiru Jega in 1993 and 2015 delivered generally free and fair elections in difficult circumstances. INEC Chair Professor Mahmood Yakubu is invited to write his name in gold with an impartial Anambra State governorship election on November 18, 2017.