My concern on the Ekiti re-run election was the large scale violence recorded during the exercise. Guardian newspaper of Sunday 26th April 2009 online version reported that; a Senator was attacked with machete and hospitalised, thugs harassed journalists, poll observers arrested, 25 people arrested by the police, and all night shooting by suspected thugs. Guardian newspapers of Tuesday 28th April 2009 online version also reported that four people who were shot have had their arms and legs amputated. Three policemen were shot at and they are being hospitalised. These events happened despite the reported deployment of about 10,000 police personnel by the police high command Abuja.
Prior to this time tension was really high and could be felt from far and near. I knew there will be serious violence the moment I watched Segun Oni and Ayo Fayose together on an AIT TV programme (Focus Nigeria). The tone of their debate could tell there is danger waiting to happen. The degree of the violence led to the postponement of election in Oye-Ekiti area of the state. Another reason was the pressure of the exercise on the INEC officials and the reported illness of Mrs Adebayo (The Resident Electoral commissioner). Therefore INEC had no choice but to postpone the re-run election in Oye-Ekiti.
My simple question is, if 10,000 police personnel drafted to Ekiti State could not prevent or even stop the violence recorded so far, then what will happen in other re-run elections to be conducted and 2011 general elections? Ekiti crisis is simply an insight to what will happen in 2011 elections. However, applying the principle of collective responsibility the President of the country becomes responsible for whatever happened in Ekiti State.
Another dangerous twist to the drama in Ekiti re-run election came when Mrs Adebayo (The Resident Electoral commissioner) disappeared. The next we heard was that she resigned her position in her letter dated 28th April 2009. Police declared her wanted. The next day, she reappeared and said that she was still a member of INEC. However her reason for initial resignation was that Ekiti governorship re-run election did not run on the right course. This is simply the truth. Let it be known to all Nigerians that the government is not sincere about conducting a credible election in the country. The failure of INEC in Ekiti is the failure of INEC through out the country. The purported electoral reform will be a sham.
Ex President Obasanjo who is still the chairman PDP board of trustees said that he is not aware of any electoral reform being undertaken by the Yar’Adua government. This comment was reported by Thisday newspapers of Saturday 2nd May 2009 online version. For an ex president to make this comment confirms the fears of Nigerians that Yar’Adua is not sincere. Ekiti crisis is a second example.
The present system in Nigeria is a recipe for disaster. The desperation and do or die approach to election in Nigeria is encouraged by our system. Political aspirants involved in these acts are obviously not the servants of the people. They are not leaders but looters. Desperation in our politicians shows their greed and the winner takes all mentality
When Ghana did all their elections and several re-run elections, there was no violence. South Africa had a violent free presidential election on the 22nd April 2009. The only problem with the South African election was that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was among the African Union election observers that monitored the election. I wondered what he was observing when his government was credited with conducting the worst elections in Nigeria.
Each time I see or hear about electoral violence in Nigeria, my mind bleeds. How many more violence or troubles do we need before we can change our electoral system to Option A4. I have preached the message of Option A4 on different occasions. I have also written a lot about it. On a particular occasion I wrote to the British Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) about supporting the re-introduction of Option A4 back in Nigeria.
For Gods sake, we do not need Angels to tell us that the solution to our electoral problems is the re-introduction of Option A4. This is a tasted and trusted method. Nigerian government tend not to learn from the past otherwise I see no reason why they should not go the way of Option A4. As the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard observed, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”. There is nothing wrong to look back to the benefits of this Option A4 system.
Not only its Option A4 system free, fair, and violent free. It’s also very economical. Can the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) or Prof Maurice Iwu tell Nigerians how much the federal government has spent conducting the yet to end 2007 elections. This Ekiti re-run election is part of the 2007 elections and many more like it. Had the option A4 been used, the nation would have saved a lot of money, time, energy, etc. The Option A4 electoral system provides a good taste of popularity. You cannot win if you’re not popular. Experiences form 1992/93 elections is a good example. It’s hard to believe that our leaders do not learn from the past.
The Ekiti experiences should be an eye opener to Nigerians of what will await them in the future elections. Except there is Option A4 electoral system, I doubt if some thing meaningful will come out of 2011 elections. There is fire on the mountain. The shady performance of INEC in Ekiti re-run election including the violence recorded so far will surely destroy the voters’ confidence in the electoral process.
Finally Nigerians will hold this government responsible for any breakdown of law and order in Ekiti State. May God Bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK