INEC and the insignia of incompetence

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Many of Nigerias biggest struggles to become a country where things work properly have resulted from the fact that many of its national institutions have been known to post absolutely shocking performances in key moments of the countrys struggles.

Because democracy rides high not necessarily on the shoulders of strong men but on the wheels of strong institutions, without those institutions that contribute to the sustenance of democracy, there is always a struggle to practice democracy in its purest forms.

One of the ugliest blights on Nigeria since democracy returned in 1999 is that many of the institutions which should strengthen every democracy worth its weight in gold have simply lacked independence.

In 1993, under debilitating local and international pressure, Ibrahim Babangida who had himself snatched power via a military coup put in  motion the process of Nigerias transition to democracy. It remains supremely doubtful that he really ever intended to hand power back to civilians, but elections were held which were presumably won by  M.K.o Abiola. But his travails began shortly,  and subsequently, while the  National Electoral Commission(NEC) under the chairmanship of Humphrey Nwosu watched on,what were arguably the freest and fairest elections in Nigerias history  were annulled.

Sani Abacha soon seized power and M.K.O Abiola was put in detention. His wife was assassinated  in 1996  as she pursued justice for her husband. Abachas death in June 1998 soon was soon followed by Abiolas tragic death in July  1998 in circumstances that continue to indict   both the living and the dead in Nigeria.

With a return to democracy in 1999, the Independent National Electoral Commission was born to take charge of elections and electoral affairs in the country. It has not been an easy journey at all even if incremental improvement have been recorded with each election that comes around. But INEC has largely struggled to fulfil its constitutional mandate as Nigeria`s preeminent electoral empire, one which has the bouden duty of delivering free and fair elections to Nigerians.

Some of the  biggest struggles of the Commission have been technical, embracing  the paucity of materials  which must be in place before credible elections can be said to have been conducted by the Commission.

However, the biggest struggles the Commission has witnessed have  been around the  the integrity of the men and women who staff it. In a country where money posts an uncomfortably strong influence in national affairs, past indiscretions by some staff of the Commission have not exactly helped INEC.

Now, with the 2023 elections just  around the corner, many Nigerians are watching keenly to see the level of preparedness by INEC and whether the Commission is  keen to turn a new leaf and improve its reputation.

In a country where voter apathy is a problem and where many simply believe that their votes will not count because they lack trust in INEC, it behooves on INEC not just to live up to its responsibilities but to be seen to live up to same.

When during elections, all manner of challenges crop up with election materials and logistics, the ghosts of past elections when the Commission did not exactly cover itself with glory are exhumed to its own discredit.

Now, with the 2023 elections fast approaching, many Nigerians are  desperately scrambling to get their voter registration over the line. But hitches abound and frustration is mounting, and with it, allegations of collusion with those who would thwart the will of Nigerians.

The lot falls on INEC to get eligible Nigerians to register as voters and participate in elections in the country while cleaning up its own house and showing that if its hands are at all fettered, they are fettered by the law and nothing else.

It is only by doing this that the insignia of incompetence long stamped on it by its own indiscretions may finally be peeled away.

Time is running out.

Kene Obiezu,

keneobiezu@gmail.com

 

 

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