Nigeria News

Kogi/Bayelsa: Democracy On Trial

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ElevateNews takes a look at the violence and vote-buying that pervert the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.

No matter the outcome of the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States, the conduct has put one in a state of worry. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has been subjected to ridicule and it looks as if the body has not prepared for this task at all.

The former INEC Chairman Professor Attairu Jega who conducted the 2015 elections raised our hope that democracy through a peaceful election is possible.

Jega’s comportment, at the most sensitive hours of the political life of Nigeria and the selfless pronouncement of the former President Goodluck Jonathan conceding defeat, even when the last scores had not been read, gave us hope that Nigeria could run on democracy.

However, four years down the lane, the country electoral conduct had slid down to the 1999 era when elections were described as do or die affair. Then, the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party declared to rule for 60 years and would do anything to win all elections, including where its candidates were not popular.

Absurdity ruled as State governors were arbitrarily impeached by a few members of the Statehouse of assemblies; election rigging was high with monetary inducement of the electorate; ballot boxes snatched by hoodlums and stuffed with ballot papers.

In fact, people were not allowed to choose their leaders; rulers were imposed on them. However, these activities were subsided a bit in 2015, perhaps because the rigging method was modernized. Money exchanged hands electronically and it was a bit difficult to pin down the perpetrators.

Soon, after he assumed office, President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption exposed many of the politicians who wired the public funds to personal accounts in the name of election. The political parties observed that the electronic method could boomerang.

They resorted to the use of force with the ruling party deploying State security apparatus, including soldiers and operatives of the Department of State Service to the polling booths.

The security agents virtually become political party agents with the highest bidder among the candidates taking control of the polling units.

Kogi and Bayelsa gubernatorial elections have revealed that this country is not progressing at all. Corruption of minds and electoral processes have overtaken the looting and stealing of the public funds. President Buhari has exonerated himself from these irregularities through a statement signed by his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu but he can do better.

His government should investigate the prevalence of monetary inducement of the electorate. Perhaps if ostentatious spending during the election can be investigated, this could reduce corruption in the country.

What I dreamt to see in Buhari’s administration is a country in which the electorate will not be influenced by money because the government would have curbed this. However, things had gone worse, all the political parties, including APC and PDP, have the same winning formula; rigging, using the taxpayers’ money to buy votes.

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