Osun, INEC, other stakeholders before 2023

The Osun State gubernatorial election has come and gone, leaving in its wake analyzes of the democratic journey so far. And as expected, the inventory has begun. From the electorate, to political actors, security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all critical stakeholders are reflecting on the conduct of the off-season exercise which, with Ekiti’s polls ahead of it, serves as a pointer to what Nigerians could do. should expect the 2023 general election.

More critical, in our view, is the fact that such introspection will significantly show how far, prepared or unprepared, non-partisan actors are ahead of the 2023 exercise which, for many, will be hotly contested and, s if carried out badly, can have a significant impact on the stability and unity of the country. As much as the perception of partisanship could easily portend danger to the system, an honest logistical failure would trigger a crisis of immense proportions.

Nonetheless, and to INEC’s credit, most observers and monitors of Osun’s election have been broadly favourable. From the deployment of voting hardware to the functionality of tech gadgets, the election management body deserves the positive review it has received. Importantly, much of the success in the two most recent polls is attributable to the deployment of technology and the palpable commitment of electorate leadership to ensure a credible process devoid of petty shenanigans. past.

Even the INEC itself will agree that a critical part of the whole process, the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS), has raised concerns in previous off-season elections. The council poll in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) earlier was reportedly characterized by complaints about the BIVAS’ inability to operate effectively. The CTF situation has raised many concerns about the readiness of the machines and even the flexibility of the commission to react quickly to any unexpected developments.

Inundated with complaints shortly after the FCT polls, INEC promised to review and improve the BIVAS ahead of the Ekiti and Osun governorate polls as well as the 2023 general elections. So far, he kept that promise. In the election of the Governor of Ekiti State on June 18, 2022, the commission substantially ameliorated these concerns and more. In the Ekiti election, electronic transmission of results was used for the first time after its enactment in February.

It should be noted that these elections were used to test recent legal innovations aimed at improving the electoral system, the key to which is the use of electronic transmission of results, a long-awaited component of voting technology methodology. The use of this legally backed technology, which aims to ensure more efficiency, accuracy, authenticity and speed in the process of collecting results, has generated immense interest as it launches a new phase in the country’s electoral system.

As a newspaper, we acknowledge and commend INEC’s deliberate efforts to ensure that these innovations are constantly improved, as seen in the off-season elections.

However, the commission must be aware that the task ahead of it as 2023 looms on the horizon is as sensitive as it is daunting. As much as we urge it to continue on this path of deliberate upward improvement of the electoral system, we implore the commission to continually reorient its staff (including ad hoc staff) on the rules of engagement. A staff member’s margin for error in judgment can be immense even under normal circumstances.

It is also relevant to observe that the integrity of the electoral process is not the sole responsibility of the CENI. There are other stakeholders whose role is as essential as that of the electoral arbiter. For example, the security authorities, especially the police, which is the main security organization in any democracy. As appreciable as their efforts have been throughout the election cycles, it is imperative to ensure that they reflect deeply on how they have operated so far, especially in the face of the threat of vote buying. .

It is discouraging, in our view, that from Anambra’s election to Osun’s exercise, the buying and selling of votes has remained a constant sore point in the electoral system. There is no end to the condemnation of this despicable act by politicians. The desperate among them, having burned their hearts with good conscience and reason, would invoke underhanded means to undermine the system for personal gain.

In our opinion, it is sad that this illicit transaction could take place in front of the security guards. This says a lot about the dull, even compromising mentality of some officers in their duty. This must end before 2023. A much more deliberate and honest approach should be deployed by the high command to deal with this ugly trend.

Beyond the recent EFCC media show, much more intelligence needs to be deployed to prevent such action. The reactive approach is not the best.

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