THE general elections of April 14 and 21 have come and gone. The elections on the whole were considered to be poorly conducted, badly managed and lacking in credibility.
What is gratifying to most Nigerians who wish this country well is that the voting process was peaceful, but because of the unfairness of the process, the declaration of questionable results elicited violence, especially in areas where the fraudulent process produced unbelievable outcomes. Be that as it may, the election has been conducted and results have been declared. The next level is the adjudication process at the election tribunals.
Those aggrieved by the results of the election can proceed to the tribunal and seek justice. Recent activities of the Nigerian judiciary should give every Nigerian the confidence that justice would be done, unlike in previous cases where judgments were pronounced three years after election. To favour the aggrieved party, this process of 2007 should be speedy, fair, consistent and objective.
There is no doubt that Nigeria is developing, and the Nigerian people know what they want; they want poverty reduction, they want jobs, education, power, water and good roads. Nigerians would expect the newly elected President to work assiduously to achieve a high level of accomplishment on these social issues. The new President can douse the apprehension of Nigerians by pursing people-oriented agenda, create confidence in his government, avoid the use of the usual language of intimidation against the opposition, and gather all of us to focus on the issue of the betterment of the Nigerian people, their welfare and security of life and properties. The new government should look into areas of school enrolment, repair damaged roads on our highways, stop ministers and governors from diverting the money meant for community, economic and social development into foreign accounts.
Strengthen EFCC, empower ICPC and drastically reduce corruption. Encourage our sons and daughters in foreign lands to come back home and participate in nation building, by creating a conducive environment for self-actualisation. Mobilise Nigerians in a friendly manner to start thinking of themselves differently and more positively as achievers and go-getters. Show good example and force government officials to follow suite.
It is important to note that the president is a civilian, and he is expected to put a human face on governance. Nigerians have sacrificed enough since the days of SAP in those heady days in the 80s and its attendant deceit and double talk. Nigerians are wiser now! They do not expect their new President to begin by asking them to make sacrifices. Nigerians have made enough sacrifices in the last 50 years, please let our people begin to enjoy the dividends of democracy now not tomorrow.
What is more important to Nigerians given the experience of this last election is that the presidency, the legislature, the judiciary, the civil society and the president should start now to seek ways of making the INEC truly independent for the 2011 elections, it is almost around the corner! Democracy is a process, which develops with every passing election. With the apparent gross bungling of this last election, the nation should begin now to search for ways of conducting a truly free and fair election. We should not wait until year 2011 before we begin to discuss the modalities of the next election.
For instance, how truly free and fair could an election be, when it is largely conducted by the presidency to select its own successor. Every human if given similar chances, would try to manipulate the process to select favoured candidates. The suggestion I wish to provide at this time is that INEC should be run by a tripartite council consisting of representatives of the presidency, the legislative and the judiciary. This Independent National Election Council (INEC) would give a more balanced and truly free and fair election that would be more acceptable than if it were by an individual (INEC) Chairman wielding all the powers in favour of the presidency, just one arm of the Government with commissioners who still depend on instructions from above.
Nigeria is truly developing, and it is important for the citizens of this country to realise this fact and work towards making positive contributions towards further development of the nation.
When an election is conducted to promote democracy, that in itself is a major achievement. That the election is flawed as indicated by all stakeholders including the executive in 2007, then instead of burning houses and fighting on the streets with guns and cutlasses it would make more sense if we go back to the drawing board, put on our thinking caps and thoroughly investigate the causes of this systemic failure, then guide against it from now by instituting fool-proof models that can stand the test of time and elicit peoples confidence. One of such reviews must thoroughly look at INEC as it is presently contrived, to remove it completely from undue interference. One way it can be done is to look at this suggested tripartite council and fine-tune it.
For all those aggrieved in this election, the normal course of action is to go to the tribunal to seek redress. It will be unfortunate if such people heed the advice of those who suggest that going to the tribunal is a waste of time. We all know that the judiciary of 2003 by its recent actions, especially in the adjudication of the cases brought by Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Ladoja of Oyo State and Governor Obi of Anambra State, the judiciary is establishing itself as an independent arm of government charged with the duty of interpreting the law. It is discharging this responsibility judiciously.
Professor Lufadeju, an Agric Consultant, lives in Ibadan.