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Between Voters And Credible Elections - Politics - Nairaland

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Between Voters And Credible Elections by fitzmayowa: 1:20am On Mar 03, 2015
Generally speaking, elections are a means of making political choices by voting. Through this process, a leader or a representative is selected for the people. Election literally means voters are presented with alternatives that they can choose from. It is a major factor in the concept of democracy. In other words, if an election is flawed, so is democracy.

Since the end of the military era in 1999, Nigerians have had four opportunities to elect new leaders, but on each occasion, the processes ended in more controversies and civil disturbances than the electorate bargained for. Many of the candidates of the different political parties had challenged the results of the elections in court or at tribunals, citing malpractices that could get the elections nullified. Some succeeded in getting a re-run, others did not. But the salient part is that some of the post-election controversies and political restiveness could have been avoided if the voters had adequate electoral education, and played their roles in the elections.

One of the functions of political parties is to educate the voters on the process of elections; they are often complemented by activities of non-governmental organisations. The pro-democracy groups were more vociferous in the military era, but sadly they have inexplicably become silent, especially at this time when they are most needed. Unfortunately also, the political parties have resorted to throwing abuses at one another with the hope of discrediting one another, but inadvertently confusing the voters.

A former Director General of Nigerian Television Authority, Tony Iredia, said prior to the 2007 elections, “the people must be assisted to premise their choices of rationality and vote wisely during elections. They must have all information that is needed to elect the right candidates who can ensure good governance. Where such public awareness is lacking, those of us in the media must accept a share of the blame of failed elections in Nigeria.”

The African Charter on Human and People’s Right adopted in 1986 and ratified in July 1990, states among others that, “every individual shall have the right to receive information,… shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the laws”.

The Independent National Electoral Commission has made several efforts in providing relevant information about the elections to the voters, but its roles and those of the security operatives in making the elections successful cannot be over-emphasised. So, the onus of getting the best out of the forthcoming elections lies with the electorate – the people to be governed and in whom the power to elect new leaders resides.

The most important role of the voter is to turn up for the elections. Apart from exercising his right to vote, it is the voter’s constitutional duty to partake in the exercise. An eligible voter who refuses to carry out this duty should have no right to complain if the eventual results do not favour him.

Without the cooperation of the electorate on the election days, the whole exercise would be in futility. INEC cannot succeed if the voters decide to be impatient on March 28 and April 11. Not only is the format of voting strange to Nigerians, namely the use card readers, some people may not vote due to unavailable Permanent Voter Cards. These could cause agitation at the polling units. But with patience, the problems can be resolved. INEC on its part should intensify the process of giving the PVCs to the voters before the crucial dates.

If the electoral management body cannot succeed without the voters’ cooperation, political parties seeking to rig the elections will also fail without help from the voters. Electoral malpractice at the polling units is only possible if the voters are willing to go along with the illegality. Inasmuch as INEC has created security checks in the voting process, the voters can render the checks ineffective if they so wished. Therefore, voters must be vigilant and be willing to assist the INEC officials at the polling units in ensuring that no foreign ballot papers are smuggled in.

It is important for the voters to understand how INEC will conduct the elections, that is, how to use the PVC, the card reader and the ballot papers. They should endeavour to know if the elections will be secret ballot system or open system. The voters should rather not listen to the campaign of calumny by political parties aiming to profit in the midst of confusion.

Re: Between Voters And Credible Elections by Justbright(m): 1:38am On Mar 03, 2015
Nigerians want credible and fair elections...d choice is ours...we should not truncate dis democratic process pls, DAT may set d country ablaze

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