One of the fundamental means of establishing the characteristic ethos of democracy is perennial elections held in a periodic duration of time. It is as a confirmation of egalitarianism and a confirmation of the right of a citizen of a nation. The electorate confers legitimate power to who (s) he feels will provide the most beneficial agenda. In countries where institutions of government have become entrenched, the character of individuals that manage elections in government agencies hardly matters because any evidence of deficiency within the process would be seen as institutional failure.
A classic example is the debacle of the year 2000 United States presidential elections. There was deep political bitterness between the two major contenders – the republican candidate George W. Bush and the Democratic candidate, Mr. Algore who was also the incumbent vice-president. However, apart from the normal human suspicions of partisanship on the electoral officials, neither of the contending parties inferred the failure of the counting system in Tallahassee to the electoral leadership. More so, at the time of the polling exercise, it was the wronged party that was holding the reign of power at the federal government.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is a young, growing nation struggling to establish and concretize necessary structures of government in order to meet the requirements of efficient operational ethics. Hence, the leadership of government agencies has a lot of stake in deepening the necessary perception of trust in the electoral process. For instance, a non -secure concept of loan giving as epitomized by the People’s Bank model, gained identity in Nigeria on the trusting image of Dr. Tai Solarin. Also the extra budgetary loophole of a Petroleum Trust Fund, gained acceptance with a doubting public, on the thrifty reputation of General Muhammadu Buhari. In addition, most Nigerians gave the infamous verdict of the second republic’s verdict ’83 conducted under the canopy of the Federal Electoral Commission’s (FEDECO) to Late Justice Victor Ovie Whisky. The annulled June 12th conundrum was squarely blamed on Professor Humphrey Nwosu.
The events preceding Professor Atahiru Jega’s ascension to office are known to all. After all, the 2007 general elections in Nigeria had the unholy tag of being the most rigged in the history of the global voting exercises. It obviously precipitated the need for the appointment of an individual with a cast iron reputation to run the controversial electoral agency. Indeed, the 2011 voters registration and polling process was a grand entrepreneurial effort in restoring faith in an institution bereft of good will. In fact, despite the introduction of latest bio-metric technology that cost a contentious gargantuan budget of over a 100 billion naira, the violence, and the disingenuous attempt at rigging the polls, the election passed the test for fair voting. And according to a significant segment of foreign and local observers, a country cannot depart from the deepest pit of electoral malfeasance into the zenith of perfect elections, in the time it had taken the former radical Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) official to settle in office.
Majority of Nigerians were willing to overlook some attempts at subverting the 2011 general elections, because of the characteristic tension during the seasons in Nigeria.. This is because the re-run elections resulted out of judicial verdicts, proclaiming the subversion of the sacred process of voting and general non adherence to the general dictates of 2010 Electoral Act. More so, unlike the general elections that require massive logistics placement and man – power direction, the re-run elections are a segmented process concerning only areas that the elections have been cancelled. Logically, it should then be easier for the electoral umpire to manage the elections to a near perfect state. After all, he has a clearer understanding of what went wrong in the previous election and which party is likely to render the current exercise into legal nullity.
But the released results unveiled after the re-run polling exercises in Nigeria, showed a repeat of the earlier electoral process which was invalidated. Nearly all the re-run elections produced similar results with the earlier exercises invalidated due to infraction of the law. And in the unlikely instance where the results were not similar, the difference was that the indicted party in the quashed elections gained an even greater mandate.
It should be noted that elections are not just an avenue for gaining power that is in fact the lesser reason. Elections implants in citizens a feeling of having a stake in governance. The opposite is the successive ostracizing of the population from the state and the result – insurrection activities by a variety of unsatisfied groups.