Despite the numerous promises of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of a free, fair, and credible election, Nigeria’s election is still in a decriable state. It seems that the nation has not parted ways with the long history of flawed and controversial elections, despite efforts to reform the electoral system.
This is evident in the voter suppression and intimidation that characterised the gubernatorial and state assembly elections in several states across Nigeria. Reports from Lagos revealed that some polling units in the Ajiran area of Agungi, Lekki, Eti-Osa Local Government Area in Lagos State were attacked by hoodlums, who snatched ballot boxes. This among many other signs are reasons why the Nigerian election is still terrible. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Voter Suppression and Intimidation
This is often done by political parties and their supporters to prevent people from voting for their opponents. In various parts of Lagos, voters were not allowed to perform their civic duties. The Labour Party Guber Candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour after casting his votes said there were cases of voter intimidation and harassment in areas like Ojo and Oshodi/Isolo. He said, “Since morning, we’ve been getting widespread reports on voters’ suppression, voters’ intimidation in places like Kosofe. We have similar situations all over Ikate, several places, Ojo, and Computer Village I am hearing as well. We are dealing with it in our situation room.” Newsmen also observed that the hoodlums attacked PU 108, PU 007 and PU 028 in the area. A resident of the area, who was attacked and flogged by the hoodlums with blood dripping down his head, said he was accosted while trying to cast his vote.
Snatching of ballot boxes
This is another menace that has characterised the Nigerian elections over the years. The trend repeated itself again today as thugs from nowhere stormed some of the polling units in Ijesha-Tedo, Surulere, Lagos and made away with the ballot boxes at gunpoint. A party agent from the opposition party, PDP, who spoke to newsmen today, explained that the “thugs were moving from polling unit to polling unit snatching ballot boxes and scaring the voters away at gunpoint.” Also, the police confirmed that some political thugs destroyed electoral materials including the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine and other sensitive materials in Omege Ward, Ezza North Local Government Area of Anambra state.
This undermines the credibility of the electoral process and makes it difficult for honest candidates to compete.
Lack of a transparent electoral commission
The electoral commission, INEC, is supposed to be independent and impartial, but there have been reports of political interference in the past. Confirming that the operations of the commission are not transparent enough, LP Guber Candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour said “At VGC, INEC officials are refusing to go into estates. They are telling estate people to come to the express road which is not a legal position for a polling unit to be.” There were also reports that the Biometric Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machine for Osborne 2 estate in Lagos was preloaded with votes.
These factors undermine the credibility of the electoral process and make it difficult for honest candidates to compete. If Nigeria wants to improve its democratic credentials and build a stable, prosperous future, it must address these problems and work towards free, fair, and transparent elections.
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