#NigeriaDecide2019: Lessons To Reflect On After Election
How long will Nigeria mourn each time the general elections hold? If it is not violence during election, it will be post-election violence.
Now, those who are alive to tell the story are seriously feed fake news on social networks, an amount that is enough to feed Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the northeast.
Massive are the trends: #AtikiIsWinning and #BuhariIsWinning rocking Twitter at the same time before football took over on Sunday. This leaves concerns of how much violence this kind of information could eventually trigger.
But the sad part is that the people are even consuming more of this fake news than the truth.
How can this be stopped, since it is believed to have adverse effect on the people?
What have we learnt, now that results are coming in?
Prior to the earlier date of February 16, Nigerians were ready to vote, but a nation of 190 million population with 60% youths (18 to 35 years of age) had less than 50% Permanent Voter Card (PVC) collection, which was far less than what it should be for the nation to have a reasonable percentage of the population voting.
The period set for the collection of PVC was shifted to elicit more PVC pickups, but in some areas, people found it hard to get their PVCs.
While pastors in churches mandated members to show their PVCs before they could take the holy communion, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was allegedly busy making the collection in some places impossible.
News went round that the process of production of PVC was muddled up to the extent that some PVCs meant to be in a particular location were taken to another location the same way election materials meant for Lagos State were found in Kwara State.
Very few saw it coming when the offices of INEC began to burn down in different states.
The situation heralded attempts to rig the election, with a plot to stagger the election being pushed to the INEC at the time.
Was the election technically rigged?
PVC Collection And Voting Figures
On Saturday February 16, Nigerians woke up to hear the news of the postponement of the election and billions were lost to the inactivity of that day.
It was a day that Nigeria contributed massively to the cut on Green-house emission campaign, with roads left empty and free.
Roads in Lagos were all free, something the residents of the city always wished for.
Shifted by one week, some Nigerians lost hope and interest in the election and it showed in Lagos State.
Lagos, one of Nigeria’s most civilised cities with the highest number of people with their PVCs, witnessed low turnout of voters, throwing lesson number one on Nigerians.
“You can only force a horse to a stream but cannot force it to drink.”
The people had lost faith in the system, as their action showed and they now preferred to stay in their homes, take pictures with their PVCs and shared them with media organisations.
Some have only collected their PVCs and kept them safe just for identification purposes at places where valid ID cards are requested.
Voter apathy that had resulted after the cancellation showed up and it reflected in the result of the election from a state with over six million registered voters.
Less than one million persons voted.
Talking Tough Will Not End Ballot Box Snatching
At places where people showed up to vote, ballot boxes were not only snatched, they were burnt, and this is after the government of the day had said security agencies would be ruthless with people who would attempt ballot box snatching.
How this eventually happened, to the extent that the individuals took time to mess around with the police official that had tried to contain the situation, no one can tell.
Many point fingers at the security agencies that were asked to be ruthless. They looked the other way and allowed thugs have a field day, some of the affected voters claimed.
President Buhari’s threat that ballot box snatchers will pay hugely, failed to manifest, as the police officer chased the thugs around like a baby chasing an adult with his ball.
Talk is cheap.
Who Sent The Thugs?
Igbo Must Go Conspiracy
In Ago Palace Way area of Lagos State, voting took place at a Polling Unit (PU) with more voters from the south east, but their votes did not leave their PU.
The intonation of the persons that addressed the media on Saturday revealed that they were from the south east.
Violence was also recorded in some other states in the nation, but one that has drawn so much concern is that of Ago Palace Way.
This had become so because of the news making the round about a statement that Igbo’s should leave Lagos.
Fake News had taken over social networks and Nigerians consumed them enthusiastically.
Nigeria’s election has become a means of dissemination of information that would further divide the people even along ethnicity line.
Why was it a PU with more Igbo people that their ballots were burnt in Lagos?
Is someone manipulating Nigeria’s election to divide the people further?
After that incident, rumours spread that Igbos were being asked to leave Lagos and this ended in the inability of people to open their shops in Oshodi area of Lagos State by Monday, February 25.
The election has again opened the wound of resentment for ethnic groups that have grown in number in different areas of the nation.
The Biafra incident again comes to mind and the call for division may rocket up.
These situations should be investigated, but one thing to also reflect on is the clamour for restructuring.
Extended Election Period For Highly Populated Cities
The Lagos experience highlights the need for the government to begin to look at giving highly populated cities longer voting days to enable people go for voting at different days.
This system, people believe will reduce the chances of ballot box burning since people could walk to the polling unit within the days specified to cast their votes while other activities happen in Lagos.
Lagos without vehicles, Keke and Okada to help people move around while they cast their vote, is such a difficult one for so many persons who are used to this form of movement.
Need To Revisit Issue Of Electronic Voting
With a central system where votes cast are immediately registered and could be accessed by the electoral body in Abuja as soon as the voter completes the process, the chances of destroying election ballot papers will be reduced.
Are we ready? This is one question that Nigerians have continued to ask.
But the process must first begin with the amendment of the law guiding the electoral process.
Electoral Act Amendment
The postponement of the election and the incidents that have followed have all highlighted the need for the amendment of some sections of the Electoral Act.
One aspect that needs amendment urgently, before the next general election is the part of the law that stipulates conditions for postponement of elections.
The loss recorded in Nigeria as a result of the postponement of the election, could have been avoided if there was a stipulated time that postponement should be possible.
Number Of Political Party
The law needs to also be amended to cap the number of parties that the nation should have, as this is costing the nation huge funds to produce election material for these parties.
Having 73 parties for a presidential election extends the amount of time that is spent in announcing results, cost of ballot paper and if this is not addressed in the Act, more than 80 parties will be registered for the 2023 general elections.
Even Nigerians watching result collations online had issues waiting to get the results while their data run dry. Funny, but that is also cost.
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