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By Elvis Agukwe.  Published April 1st, 2009

This has nothing to do with the rantings of the opposition who will rather rely on the pages of newspaper for their campaigns than marching to the fields to canvass votes. It also has nothing to do with the wishes of a tiny but vocal cabal masquerading as human rights activists, but who are actually failed politicians. It has a lot to do with the future of democracy in Nigeria. Any patriotic Nigerian will support the reappointment of Prof Maurice Iwu as chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when his current tenure expires on June 2010. The reasons are not far fetched. Iwu as the man who successfully transited Nigeria from one democratic government to another since independence in 1960, posses the experience, the courage and the ability to deepen our democracy by personally conducting the 2011 elections.
It is really unfortunate that some misguided Nigerians out of sheer mischief and driven by frustrated ambitions had taken it upon themselves to purloin Iwu for the conduct of the 2007 elections. In their myopic and jaundiced opinion, the election was flawed simply because their favoured candidates did not win. After falling to stampede Iwu out of office by calling for his resignation, they resorted to cheap blackmail by  arm-twisting President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to sack the INEC helmsman. When that failed to fly, they tried to instigate the senate by seeking to obtain a motion condemning the 2007 elections. Of course that back fired with both the senate and the House of representatives passing an overwhelming vote of confidence on the erudite professor.
Beaten in their own game, these desperados now went and hired some charlatans in the legal and media professions to propagate the lies that Iwu’s tenure which constitutionally expires on June 2010, had elapsed. Their incoherent and illogical postulation was that Iwu was not screened by the senate as INEC chairman. But the senate committee chairman in charge of INEC, senator Isiaka Adeleke has debunked that lie by providing dates and declared unequivocally that Iwu’s first tenure expires June 2010. It is heart warning that we have a president who believes in the rule of law and due process. Because this president is knowledgeable and will not be swayed by the judgmental indiscretion of failed politicians and their collaborators in the media, their ambition of scuttling Iwus’s tenure has crashed.
It has to because Nigerians are actually looking beyond Iwus’ first tenure by seeking ways of ensuring that the proposed electoral reforms are strengthened by the re-appointment of Iwu. No matter the misgivings with the 2007 elections, the INEC chairman proved to be a dogged fighter who dared the enemies of Nigeria by going ahead to conduct the elections and announced the results. That Nigeria has been stable ever since without experiencing the horrors of Kenya. And Zimbabwe is attributable to Iwus’s courage and consistency. As the man who witnessed first hand what transpired during the elections, the INEC chairman is in a position to plug the loopholes and deepen the process of electron conduct in Nigeria.
Indeed one of the major reasons why our electoral bodies have been reeling under sever criticisms is because of lack of continuity. After the conduct of one electron, the losers will howl and curse the chief electoral umpire, accusing him of being responsible for their woes. Before one knows what is happening, the head of state will buckle under pressure and fire that umpire. A new person who will start learning the ropes will be appointed and the process will start afresh. There will be no time for the leader to learn from their mistakes and inspire to enhance their performance,.
Again, many people have made the mistake of thinking that Iwu is actually the problem of elections in the country. Such arguments are formed out of ignorance. Those who were privileged to read the INEC official report of the 2007 elections will be amazed at the lenght some of our politicians went to sabotage the elections and even threatened the lives of Iwu and his immediate family. Such desperation also drove many of them to rig the elections with the active connivance of security agencies. So the question is how do we curb the monsters that push politicians to compromise during the elections.
As we all know, most of our political parties, the ruling PDP inclusive, lack internal democracy. When people are frustrated from realizing their legitimate ambition within a system, there is no limit to what the can do to seek redress. Unfortunately the slow pace of our judicial system does little to assist such people. Resort to violence then comes naturally. This has nothing to do with the man in charge of conducting the election.
To make matters worse, some of these political parties hardily go to the field to campaign and sell their manifestoes. Because of lack of ideology, on the part of the parties, voters are even confused on which to choose. Others become indifferent with such cynical comments like “ what difference does it make”, “and they are all the same”. If our parties could put more efforts in working for the expected votes, they will have little time in making Iwu the scapegoat for their laziness. Happily the recommendation of the Uwais panel On electoral performs will take care of these indolent parties.
Another area both the parties and indeed all Nigerians have to work on is the mindset that any candidate to an election must win and if he falls, he accuses his opponent of rigging. Instead of eulogizing America or even Ghana for conducting a free and fair election, have we paused to ponder on the attitude of losers of those elections? They take it in their strides instead of bickering and pointing accusing fingers on the electoral umpire. All of us must not win at the same time. We have to train our psyche to be patient and wait for our turn.
Finally, we must make our political and public offices to be less attractive, monetary wise. People now see public offices as commercial ventures and they employ all manners of crude methods including blackmail and murder to capture the treasury. In such a dangerous contest for power, desperation and frustration will lead people to rubbish the good works of the electoral body. These are some of the areas that Nigerians urgently need to address for us to have the elections of our dreams, with Prof Iwu presiding over the conduct of the 2011 elections.

Agukwe wrote in from Abuja




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