BEING A SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, AMUWO ODOFIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT, COMRADE AYODELE ADEWALE, AT THE BADAGRY PROGRESSIVES SUMMIT 2014, ORGANIZED BY ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS, BADAGRY DIVISION, HELD AT LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT, VIP CHARLET, BADAGRY, LAGOS STATE, ON THE 20TH OF SEPTEMBER, 2014
“We have fought for social justice. We have fought for economic justice. We have fought for environmental justice. We have fought for criminal justice. Now we must add a new fight - the fight for electoral justice.”----Barbara Boxer
Permit me to begin this speech by thanking the All Progressives Congress (APC), Badagry Division for organizing this pertinent event.
I am humbled and indebted by the decision of the organizer of this topical and august programme for considering me worthy to give a speech on this germane and contemporary subject of discussion.
Without further compliments, I would like to do justice to the theme of this august occasion “2015 GENERAL ELECTION: THE CHALLENGES AHEAD”
Distinguished, as we strategize ahead of the forthcoming general elections, that one major headache confronting the nation is how to address the challenge of conducting credible and acceptable elections in 2015.
The electoral system in Nigeria has had a chequered history, right from pre-independence period up to the 2011 general elections; we have consistently had flawed electoral processes.
The only election with general and international acceptability was the one that was held on June 12, 1993, that was unarguably won by Late MKO Abiola, but instead of taking advantage of it to institutionalize democracy in Nigeria, the peoples’ mandate was stolen in broad day light. It is instructive to state that, Nigeria and Nigerians are yet to recover from the shock
Recently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which ushered in the Fourth Republic on May 29, 1999, has so far conducted three major general elections – 1999, 2007 and 2011.
It is noteworthy to state that most of the previous elections conducted by INEC were either marred by allegations of rigging, ballot snatching, ballot stuffing, bribery and corruption or outright irregularities, thereby casting doubt on its credibility.
Available records show that while the 2007 election was generally described as flawed, the 2011 election was marred by electoral violence.
Distinguished, INEC over the years has shown to the public that it is incapable of conducting a free and fair election. This is manifested in the series of election held in the fourth republic.
INEC has always jilted the electorates by playing the script of its employer. The Commission cannot hold a credible election in the present circumstance, if the mode of appointments of its officers and their funding is not changed.
The National Assembly should therefore legislate through a bill empowering the judiciary to appoint members into the board of INEC. This should be officers with credible and unquestionable character without affiliation to any political party.
Furthermore, one of the major problems we have with INEC is that its officers are members of the ruling party and their mandate is for them to protect the interest of their political party according to their party constitution and likewise to build confidence of selfish loyalty to those who appointed them as members of the Commission. Nothing good can ever come out of a corrupt mind and, of course, it is a truism that a spade is always a spade.
For us to correct the flaws in our electoral system, INEC must be restructured. All its activities reconstituted, and the President should not have any power over the Chairman of the Commission. Rather, the Chairman should be accountable to the National Assembly while the mode of funding should also be direct to the Commission. If these measures are put in place, Nigeria electioneering process would be sanitized to a large extent.
Also, Bribery is another canker worm that has eaten deep into the electoral system. A lot of people are involved in collecting gratification from the politicians thereby selling their conscience and their votes. This is due to the fact that the economic situation is not stable. There are a lot of people dying of hunger and starvation in our communities. What is now recently termed as “Stomach Infrastructure”, which was visibly manifested by the PDP in the State of Osun and Ekiti State elections is now the order of the day. These electoral fraudsters even go to the extent of thumb printing on ballot papers throughout the eve of the election day when official voting has not commenced.
Distinguished, it is worrisome that thuggery has now become common place amongst our youths. Today, most politicians have thugs whom they use to disrupt elections and steal ballot boxes from polling stations. These are the same youths who they use in carrying out their nefarious activities ranging from political shenaniganism, blackmail and assassination etcetera.
Permit me to use this medium to appeal to some of our youths to desist from their evil ways and turn a new leaf. It is on record that most of the time these same politicians use and dump such youths.
Distinguished, this is a critical time in Nigeria for us all to rise up to the challenge of re-positioning our dear country. It is my belief and the collective belief of our great party that in us lies the solution.
First, for a credible election to be achieved in Nigeria, certain solutions must be proffered : Voters’ register should be thoroughly vetted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and cross-vetted by parties and observing bodies.
Also, ballot papers should be adequate. There should be tight security at the polling booths, adequate electoral officials should be trained, transportation of ballot papers and officials should be facilitated and multiple voting should be discouraged.
Finally, let us urge our people to participate in the on-going continuous voters registration and collection of permanent voters card. Therein lies our power to change the government at the center. We should also condemn in totality the un-equal creation and distribution of additional electoral polling units throughout the country.
Thank you and God bless
Comrade Ayodele Adewale
Amuwo Odofin Local Government