The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has almost concluded this year’s General Election with the Presidential and National Assembly Elections taking place on Saturday, February 25, and the Governorship and State Assembly Polls holding on Saturday, March 18, across the country.
However, the Commission has scheduled April 15 for the conclusion of the exercise with the conduct of supplementary governor- ship, legislative polls. New Telegraph is, however, dismayed to state unequivocally that the already conducted polls were replete with large- scale irregularities. Virtually every state had their own fair share of electoral malpractices, before, during and after the exercise.
Some political gladiators including governors of some states reportedly went about with suspected thugs to fraudulently influence electoral outcomes. Ballot box snatching and destruction of the voting proceedings were said to have been quite prevalent in some states in the South.
But the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections on March 18 exposed Nigeria as a mere democratic hypocrite. The polls fell far below prescribed standards as there were reported extensive voter suppression/intimidation, violence, and disruption of voting proceedings in the strongholds of opposition political parties.
The build-up to a season of impunity had started during the campaigns and escalated during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. Unfortunately, Lagos was regrettably, in the lead in the show of shame that, at best, could be described as officially endorsed terrorism.
The impunity was sustained through unjustifiably vicious socio-cultural bigotry thus creating panic among Nigerians who have lived harmoniously for decades. We observe with dismay that the spearheads of the disservice to humanity evoked the sentiments of unsuspecting Lagos residents by making sub- missions to the effect that Lagos was not, and is not, a no-man’s land but the land of the Yorubas and that the politics of the state should be left for only the Yorubas.
Some fell for the reckless verbal outbursts, as they got railroaded into a large army of thugs that prevented some non-indigenes from voting while unleashing physical assault on them. Since Lagos State leverages on many people within her jurisdiction, for her extraordinarily huge monthly revenue and a high census figure, it is obligatory on her to tolerate the participation of all stakeholders including the non-indigenes in the democratic process. Every part of the world is a place of ancestry of some persons. Lagos is therefore not, and can never be a no-man’s land.
New Telegraph argues that it amounted to intellectual dishonesty for the protagonists of “Lagos for Yorubas” to have excused themselves from shed- ding light on the authentic but undisputed natives of Lagos State, who are from IBILE, broken down to mean Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island and Epe. Virtually, all the pivots of the “Lagos for Yoruba” campaign are migrants, some of whom are responsible for the conscious or unconscious exclusion of the natives of Lagos from vital political decision- making in the state. From 1999 till date, more migrants than natives have ruled Lagos State, apart from other non-natives occupying or have occupied sensitive positions.
While New Telegraph ac- knowledges appeals for national reconciliation, it is im- perative not to just rush into it without first ironing out some contentious issues. Instead, diligence should be exhibited in getting to the root of the matter. All those who, in words or actions, contributed to the thuggery that adversely affected the peaceful conduct of the polls in some parts of the country including Lagos, where like Calabar, the seeds of democracy was planted some100 years ago, should be prosecuted.
The same treatment should be extended to some security and electoral officials who aided the commission of electoral offences including the thugs and their principals. The immunity enjoyed by governors should be waived in such cases in order to help make it possible for them to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted with regard to crucial matters including allegations of state-backed thuggery during elections. Taking such steps will not only serve as a deterrent to those who might want to carry out such acts in future polls, but will undoubtedly go a long way in enhancing democracy in the country. The on-going gathering of signatures to help facilitate the slamming of visa ban on suspected electoral offenders and their sponsors should be sustained to fruition.
This should be accompanied with a complete easing out of such persons from politics. The struggle by the various spokespersons to earn their pay and be considered for government patronage was and would always be an untenable basis for them to take to the regrettable path of incitement for which they seem to be calling for a ceasefire now at the prompting of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Merit, in all its comprehensiveness, should be used to determine those to be voted for always because at the end of the day it is they that will determine the direction of the nation. To have manipulated the populace out of such a trans- formative trajectory through thuggery as well as divisive and indecorous verbal outbursts, the political class, is, indeed, letting the nation down and pushing Nigerian to becoming a pariah in the community of nations.