Home HOME OPINION: Elections postponement and our democracy, by Raymond Oise-oghaede

OPINION: Elections postponement and our democracy, by Raymond Oise-oghaede

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu

It is no longer news that the Presidential/National Assembly and the Governorship/State Houses of
Assembly elections which were hitherto scheduled for 16 th , February and 2 nd, March have been
postponed to 23 rd, February and 9 th , March respectively. The postponement, according to INEC, was
due to logistics and operational problems. The Commission took full responsibility for its actions and
advised that same was taken in the interest of the nation. However, the shift has set tongues wagging
within and outside the country with people divided along condemnation and commendation lines.
Many people have even gone to the extent of accusing the Chairman of the Commission of sabotage
and called for his resignation amongst other sanctions. Expectedly, the political parties are not left
out in the imbroglio as there have been accusations and counter accusations of conspiracies from
different directions. Though, representatives of some of the parties also commended the commission
for saving our democracy from `imminent ridicule`; the basic truth of the matter remains that the
`elections have been postponed`.
Now that the new date of 23 rd instant is fast approaching, the most reasonable things to do at this
juncture is to closely study the circumstances surrounding the postponement and working on same
towards ensuring that we achieve the best results that will project the country and its citizenry in
good light. I have in the last few days written and circulated two very important articles titled
RIGHT” to sensitize the electorates on those things that are expected of them before, during and after
the elections. I have also challenged other institutions (including INEC, the Security Agencies, the
Government, the Political Parties, Journalists/Media Practitioners, and the International
Observers/Monitoring Groups) that will be directly or indirectly involved in the process to ensure that
they discharged their responsibilities/functions professionally and to the best of their abilities towards
achieving the much desired free, fair and credible outcomes. Now that the elections have been
shifted and the ban on electioneering lifted; it will not be out of place to use this medium to still do
enlightenment campaign to support all that have earlier been proffered. As, a result, it is very
important to advise leaders of all parties to put machineries in place to checkmate areas of concerns
that have emanated from different quarters as factors that were responsible for the postponement.
Though, the Chairman of INEC has assured that the work tools and processes are secured and have
not been, and will not be compromised; there is need to give the Commission the benefits of the
doubt albeit with extremely close and legitimate monitoring.
The government and party leaders should ensure that they abstain from taking any illegal action(s)
against the Chairman and or any member of the Commission as fallout of this postponement. If there
are sufficient evidences of sabotage or conspiracy, the provisions of the extant laws should be strictly

adhered. You are strongly advised to be cautious of your utterances and ensure to refrain from
making statements that could be misconstrued and misinterpreted to causing crises in the polity. The
problems caused by the `CAMPAIGNS OF DAMAGING PROPAGANDA` which have tended to divide
the people along sentimentally parochial and myopic lines are still lingering and same will cost us
valuable efforts and time to defuse in the nearest future. Deliberate efforts should be made to put
the interest of the country above partisan and personal considerations. If election is the process of
choosing representatives by popular votes to form a government; then, the exercise will not be
reasonably justified if the country is thereafter thrown into a governmentless society. In view of this
fact, you will agree with me that we cannot afford to toy with this golden opportunity to ensure that
we get it right.
At this stage, there is need for all hands to be on deck towards ensuring that the new dates are
sacrosanct and positively utilized. What should be uppermost in our minds is the need to sustain our
democracy. We should not allow our selfish and inordinate ambition to derail our resolve to
upholding the national and collective interest of our country and the citizenry. It is not cast in stone
that a particular party or candidate must win the election; that decision should be left for the
electorates to make at the polls. This is the time to prove to our leaders that they should always be
guided by the fact that in any democracy, it is the votes of the electorates that will decide the people
and party(ies) that will form the government. Power of incumbency and the aggressiveness of
opposition parties are inconsequential to the determination and resoluteness of the electorates. It is
the state of the nation and its effects on the lives of the people that will determine the voting trends.
We may not have been getting it right in the past; but, henceforth, it is the will of the people that
must prevail. INEC has assured us of playing its role as an uncompromised, unbiased and committed
umpire (we are watching closely with keen interest); I will also implore the security operatives to be
professional in carrying out their duties. They should be apolitical and strive to put in their best
towards ensuring that the lives and properties of the citizenry and the International
Observers/Monitoring groups are protected in the discharge of their responsibilities. It is obvious that
with a truly independent umpire and professional security operatives in place; we are almost certain
of a very successful outing because the destinies of the electorates will then be left in their own
In view of the aforementioned, this should serve as a “CLARION CALL” to the electorates and the
people that the ball is now in their court to do the needful. If we want good governance in our
country; we must learn to come together during elections to take crucial decisions. It is only when our
leaders realize that the electorates are `very conscious of their rights and responsibilities` that they
will equally be mindful of their actions and inactions towards ensuring that the wellbeing of the
citizenry are uppermost in their agenda. If we do not get it right on Saturday; it may hurt us for

decades because the politicians will continue to take us for granted by concluding that we are still not
`ripe to practice true democracy`. Therefore, this is the time to emancipate yourselves from mental
and political slavery by proving to our leaders that “you are capable and ready to practice true and
sound democracy”.
Apropos to the aforementioned, you are therefore advise to eschew violence and all other electoral
malpractices as we come together to take our destinies in our hands.
May the Almighty God help us.


Oise-oghaede writes from Lagos

He is a public policy analyst/commentator
08023116867 and 08099405562.



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