I was glad when I read the Guardian and Thisday newspapers of Monday 8th December 2008, online version. My happiness stems from the fact that Mr President on his sallah message to Nigerians reconfirmed that his administration was committed to electoral reforms, so that we can have peaceful and transparent elections in the country. Quoting my source (Thisday newspaper) “Mr President said his administration would take very seriously, the issue of electoral reform programme. “I want to assure all Nigerians that the federal government is fully resolved and committed to the electoral reform programme so that we can have peaceful and transparent elections in this country”.
This is a clear indication that Mr President understands, that our major problem in Nigeria is our electoral process, which never allows a true leader to emerge. Even our president was not our popular choice. Mr President, apologies to you.
Mr President, your views about transparent elections are in consonance with what the ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar said in one of his interviews were, “He urged that the nation’s politicians and everyone else should aim for a time when elections are so transparent that there would be no need for petitions”. (Guardian newspapers of Sunday, November 23 2008, online version). Nigerians know that our problem is our electoral process, which our unfortunate less visionary leaders have used to their advantage. What the authorities do in Nigeria is selection, instead of elections? The country cannot move forward at this rate, rather we will retrogress.
The solution to our problem is not rocket science, neither do we need expatriates to educate us on how to conduct transparent elections in Nigeria. The solution is the re-introduction of Option A4 electoral system, because Nigerians are yet to see a method better than this system. Our previous experiences with this method should guide us. If Nigeria is serious about electoral reforms to guarantee transparency, I strongly recommend this method to the federal government of Nigeria. I have also spoken about this in all international forum/seminars that I found myself in.
People have pointed to me about the fact that this system allows people to know who is voting for them or not. My answer is yes, people will vote for whoever they trust, that will make a popular candidate to emerge. The system will prevent the imposition or selection of candidates, which is the order of the day in Nigeria. It will also check bribing voters in a way, because people will see who you’re voting for. Unpopular candidates will not go far with this method. An example was when the ex military Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon lost an election in his constituency, because Option A4 electoral system was used at that time. His people at the constituency level didn’t vote for him because he was not popular and there was no avenue for rigging. That is Option A4 system for you. I have always argued that the short falls of this system is better than the methods we are using now.
Nigerians must seize this opportunity of the current electoral reform programme to ask the committee in charge of electoral reforms to give us the Option A4 method. Its economical, little or no logistics problem. No question of ballot papers and boxes. People just line up behind who they want to vote. Results are known there and then after voting. The money used in printing ballot papers alone in previous elections is enough to create employment for about 10000 Nigerians. Yet this ballot papers are meaningless because of electoral frauds.
Mr President, you need to match your words with action. It’s not enough to promise electoral reforms without backing it with action. Mr President, I am aware that the opposition parties (AC and CNPP) have accused you of being double faced when it comes to electoral reforms. They said you should not be taken serious because your administration is paying lip service to electoral reforms. Part of their reason for this accusation, was because you’re vice Jonathan Goodluck, was seen showering praises on Maurice Iwu who conducted the 2007 elections. Jonathan described Iwu as a patriot, despite the fact that 2007 elections have been described as a total fraud. (Details of this accusation appeared on Thisday newspaper of Tuesday, 9th December 2008, online version).
My President, you must prove critics wrong. You need to disprove the opposition parties. This is the time for you to show that you really mean what you say. Nigerians are tired of promises and failures from past administrations. You will be writing your name in gold if you help Nigeria to achieve the reformation our electoral laws to Option A4. Generations unborn will surely remember you, if our electoral laws will be such that will allow true leadership to emerge.
Mr President, many Nigerians in Diaspora will likely come back home with their wealth of experiences if things are right. Things can never be right, if the right people cannot emerge to lead. Right people cannot emerge, with a system that can never allow them.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group”