By Laolu Adeyemi
The much-awaited 2015 presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone. The credibility of the elections, the winner it produced and the unprecedented acceptance of defeat by the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan would remain a reference point in the history of democracy in Nigeria.
Though the polls that produced Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the president elect has been openly criticized by a PDP party agent, former Niger Delta Affairs minister, Elder Godsday Orubebe.
Orubebe who held up proceedings and reined abusive words on Jega later said he regretted his action and asked Nigerians to forgive him. “Election is a passionate thing and I really regret what took place this morning. I was unnecessarily pushed by Jega to get to that level. I want to apologise particularly to young Nigerians that look up to take politics as a career, to say that what happened was not intended to cause them any embarrassment,” he said.
Despite the fact that Orubebe and some of his party allies described it as an unfair election, the 2015 presidential election has been described in many fora and gatherings as one of the credible elections the nation has had in the recent democratic dispensation.
For many Nigerians, this is the first time, the will of the people prevailed over the will of the selected few in the corridors of power. Little wonder more encomiums have been going to the Independent Electoral Commissions (INEC)’s Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega for his performance and as the inventor of the card reader, which further strengthened the electioneering process in Nigeria.
However, it is imperative that INEC looks into the challenges faced by its officials during the March 28 polls and improve on it ahead of the gubernatorial polls billed for April 11.
Problems like the failure of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) in some parts of the country and the late arrival of INEC officials, which were allegedly caused by National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), should be addressed before the next elections.
In some polling units, drivers of some of the commercial buses that were scheduled to carry INEC officials with ballot paper and equipment to various polling units were reportedly missing.
In Alimosho local council, for instance, INEC officers failed to get to the polling units in Akowonjo until around 10.45 am on Saturday, all because some drivers were no where to be found. At Ijegun, also under Igando- Ikotun LCDA, INEC officials failed to get to their respective polling units until 10.20am and accreditation exercise started late as a result of this.
The national commissioner attributed the problem of late distribution of materials in Abuja and some other places to failure of NURTW to honour the agreement between them and INEC.
Prof. Jega, who spoke on a national television, also accused the union of failing to honour the agreement between INEC and NURTW.
Meanwhile, NURTW through its union secretary, Prince Adeyeye Michael has reacted to allegations that it failed to supply vehicular needs of INEC in the FCT.
Adeyeye, in a statement, said it had fulfilled all aspects of the agreement it entered into with the Independent electoral commission.
He however explained that his union was unable to supply few vehicles in Lagos because they were held up at Berger junction by security men despite bearing the INEC stickers.
Adeyeye claimed his union later laboured to get those vehicles release for onward dispatch of duty. Yet, INEC insisted and claimed that the late arrival of its officials to the various polling units across the country was because NURTW failed to provide sufficient vehicles as agreed.
Speaking with Mr. Yusuf Oladimeji, a zonal Secretary for the All Progressive Congress (APC), said that the issue of logistic is what they faced at the various polling units last Saturday.
Yusuf said: Thousand of voters had to wait endlessly until 11pm when INEC officials arrived that day. He advised INEC to make arrangement for their officials to sleep closer to their respective collation centres for them to arrive early.
INEC should fine-tune their arrangement with NURTW to forestall such occurrence in the gubernatorial elections come next week.
Former Vice Chairman, Alimosho Local Council, Mr. Akin Bashiru was of the view that the late arrival of INEC officials at the various polling units discouraged some voters from exercising their franchise. To this end, Bashiru urged INEC to solidify their arrangement with NURTW and even make backup plans.
Speaking also on the matter, the Executive Secretary, Alimosho Local Council, Jelili Suleimon, said some INEC officials are inexperienced and lack the charisma to officiate. He also advised INEC to make sufficient arrangement for vehicles that would convey his officials to various polling units across the country.
Lamenting that some INEC officials lack integrity to officiate in the coming elections, Suleimon disclosed that some of them were seen doing things differently from what they were employed to do at many polling units last Saturday.
Suleimon advised INEC to get more committed staff and that can help deliver the mandate expected of her. INEC should motivate her staff to prevent them from compromised. “INEC should provide his own vehicles for easy mobility of his officials,” he added.
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