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by Ugo Harris Ukandu

When  Nigerian politicians, mischief makers, thugs, trouble makers, elected officials, candidates and International observers/monitors discredit the election authorities like INEC in Nigeria working under the difficult conditions of over-heated transitions like in Nigeria ever unstable nation, it becomes humanly impossible for the natives, ordinary people,candidates, political parties, opposition parties etc to respect the law and order in place, if not the election outcome as well.


How can you expect your citizens to respect poll results declared by electoral umpires that have already been discredited by all manners of foreigners and Nigerians with doubtful intentions towards your country? No election is perfect and also cannot be expected to reflect values foreign to the locale where it is conducted like in Nigeria with their contempt for law and order and where breaking laws and corruption  has taken over the nation in every sphere of the nation operation justifying the classification of Nigeria as a FAILED STATE in the mode and league with Somalia, Zimbabwe and Congo.

The Europeans learned from their mistakes and so, they should encourage Africans to learn from their own mistakes as well. Disparagement or reckless assessments intended to isolate the INEC and the electoral leadership will never cut it.

Part of the effort therefore is to encourage aggressive information management on the part of African governments of the day to counter any negative misinformation that attempts to discredit our electoral umpires and the institutions we have in place at the given point in time. Lessons can be learned from India, Taiwan, South Africa,Ghana and other emerging democracies which have done well at countering negative press and succeeded in projecting an acceptable level of some electoral purity. And most importantly, we must understand that electoral tribunals (and judgments issuing from them) are part of the overall process of all elections even in advanced democracies.

Therefore, we must refrain from this infantile tendency to celebrate yet another nullification of an election as further proof of how rotten our elections are. In our system of phased electoral process, INEC is merely the agency of original jurisdiction (much like a trial court with original jurisdiction), with finality of election outcomes residing with the tribunals and other higher courts. Thus, it will not be fair to call for resignation or attacking of an INEC boss merely because a result he declared had been overturned without also calling for the mass resignation of all trial judges whose judgments are overturned on appeal in case of River State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and  in Anambra in case of Governor peter Obi.

Ugo Harris Ukandu
Nigeria Democracy and Justice Project
Washington, DC


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