What an election!

Just as I and many Nigerians predicted, yesterday’s presidential and National Assembly elections were marred by violence, confusion and just plain stupidity. It’s a scandalous mess. In most parts of the country the elections started as from 12 noon as opposed to the electoral commission’s announced time of 10 a.m. Even so, in many places:

a. the election officers did not turn up;
b. ballot papers did not carry names of some candidates;
c. names of voters were missing on the voters’ register;
d. people were beaten up by “security” officers;
e. election did not take place;
f. people were killed;
ad infinitum.

So, what’s next? President Obasanjo justified the mess this morning when he said people should not have expected an election without problems, saying nowhere in the world can this happen. He is right. But I dare say nowhere in the world could this kind of mess occur, given the long period of preparation, the quantum of monetary, human and other resources expended on the event.

I was invited to speak on a local radio this afternoon on the election (the Kaduna-based Raypower FM). I was interviewed by two journalists on the proceedings and likely outcome of the election. Naturally, I said my mind. I was specific on the INEC’s lack of adequate preparation, its incompetence and the seeming deliberate decision of government agencies to scuttle the transition programme. I warned, however, that those calling for the outright cancellation of the polls might lead us into the government’s trap of having an excuse to defer the hand-over date. I said it’s better for aggrieved people to seek redress in the courts and the various election tribunals. Otherwise, we might not see the fabled civilian-to-civilian transition we all yearn for.

It was a phone-in programme, as such many listerners called to express their minds, too. I was not surprised to hear almost all of them agreeing with my points. The level of disenchantment with the political process is high. But as I wrote recently, the important thing is to “manage” the situation and have Gen. Obasanjo leave office on 29 May. We must sustain the democratic system at all cost; it’s better – always better – than military rule.

“Komai lalacewar waina, ta fi kashin shanu.”

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