The much-anticipated date for 2019 election finally came into being on 23rd February as against the initially scheduled date. From my end, everything went peacefully as usual under the sun and in the rain. I must commend the incumbent government for making sure the biometric technologies and other materials were to an extent “functional” compared to the experience of 2015. In the same vein, the design of the electoral process to vote directly after the identification of one’s number increases and encourages voters’ turnout.
However, the experience of the ad-hoc staff (especially the corps members) on Saturday 16th February 2019 was rather disgraceful; an inhumane act to the core. The welfare package needs to be raised especially for the night before the supposed election to give the ad-hoc staff the much-needed physical, mental and emotional balance to coordinate the election. A case where corps member would be sleeping during the election would not have occurred if they had a good night.
Let me say, emphatically that we are not there yet but we are getting better against all odds. For proper representation during the election period, adequate personnel need to be readily screened and deployed to ease off the electorate’s stress. This would, therefore, limit the cases of those fainting under a queue. In fact, let me ask: what do we need a queue for? If it is to exercise our civic right, I think that is not encouraging at this age of ours.
I also long for a time where we will finally get it right on all grounds, election inclusive. This time, the election would be carried out just as we see in the developed nations, where the electorate are left to decide their future by voting. On the contrary, what had been with us for a while and what holds now is the act and sharp practices of influencing voters with cash and other materials; foods, clothes. This is, therefore, glaring where the electorate would have to show the party agent the party voted for just to receive a stipend. At the extreme, party agents will keep moving up and down to monitor the electorate activities. All these acts are indeed shameful.
Besides, I want to strongly believe that conducting a free and fair election is achievable in Nigeria if and only if there is the political backing of the incumbent government. I must also commend former President Goodluck Jonathan for his conduct in the year 2015 and his reaction to the defeat. Indeed, he remains a rare gem.
There is a crucial need for political will to achieve free and fair election without having to buy votes after spending a fortune on campaigns. Also, there is the need to have an adequate number of ad-hoc staff and also provide enough election materials (card readers, ballot boxes, stamps…) to reduce stress for voters and also quicken the whole process. Also, welfare package of INEC ad-hoc staff needs to be addressed and above all the postponement of election without a minimum of two weeks’ notice should be abolished henceforth.
Obileye, Abolaji Adewale, Ogun State