Nigeria: Let's Have Electoral Offences Commission

22 November 2019

The governorship elections of Kogi and Bayelsa states had come and gone. The battle will most likely be shifted to courts. It is important to state that politicians in Nigeria from both sides of the divides often employ the tactics of violence, vote- buying, hijack, kidnapping, maiming, and killings in their weak political zones with the aim of reducing their opponents' votes in order to win elections.

In my observation, as it is, electoral offenders in Nigeria almost get away with all manners of electoral offences. There is hardly a deterrent for would be electoral offenders! For us to get it right, it is high time we establish an independent body charge with the responsibility of "investigating" and "prosecuting" of electoral offenders in order to serve as a deterrent to would be electoral offenders.

In my thought, the worst thing that could happen to a democratic society is for its elections to be won by "hook" or by "crook". Credible elections are very "fundamental" to good governance in a democratic society. In truth without credible elections good governance will only be a mirage. Winning elections at all costs will never take us to the promise land!

There are two undesirable issues being elections violence and vote -buying which have come to dominate our political space in the recent past, although the issues have been with us right from the First Republic to date with different dimensions .

In my understanding, politicians from both sides of the divides due to their high level of desperation for power which is occasioned by their desire to "milk" the country "dry" are essentially the alleged triggers to elections violence. In addition, our politicians too are the culprits to the alleged vote-buying in our electoral process. We must get rid of these two evils in our electoral process for us to develop.

In my view, our politicians continually seek for power by "hook" or by "crook" due to the high level of "monetary rewards" attached to our political system. Desperation for power among our politicians could only be reduced if we could succeed in reducing the "monetary rewards" attached to our political system. We must work hard towards making governance a service not the business venture that it is currently.

All hands must be on deck towards reducing corruption in governance otherwise it will take us donkey years to it right. If corruption is minimized in the system, corrupt politicians will certainly keep a "distance" to our governance while "servants" politicians will gladly take their shoes. Business venture politicians have succeeded in chasing out servants politicians in the system. We are in need of servants politicians and not business ventures politicians.

Our politicians due to their high level of desperation for power are essentially the triggers to both elections violence and vote- buying. No one should expect our politicians to stop the said twin evils in our electoral process especially where they benefit from them.

The media, civil society organizations, professional bodies, traditional rulers, religious bodies, legal practitioners and all people of conscience should advocate for electoral offences commission in order to stop the twin menaces of elections violence and vote -buying. The system must be swiftly rescued otherwise we will all be doomed.

Let's also continue to educate the electorates on the undesirability and consequences of electoral violence and votes-buying to our political development. Although, no election is perfect, but salvaging our electoral process is necessary to all because if you are the beneficiary of electoral fraud today, you might be its victim's tomorrow.

Dauda wrote from Kaduna

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