Tuesday, December 2, 2014
INEC SHOULD APOLOGISE TO GOVERNOR FASHOLA
2nd December, 2014
INEC SHOULD APOLOGISE TO GOVERNOR FASHOLA
The names of the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola and that of his wife were reportedly missing on INEC’s register during the ongoing registration exercise in preparation for the 2015 general elections which is barely two months away. Consequent upon this, neither the governor nor his wife could collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC).
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) frowns upon this ugly development. It is not only embarrassing but also irritating, provoking and therefore unacceptable. It is an invitation to chaos. It also portrays the Lagos chapter of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as inept and nonchalant. It is capable of exposing Nigeria to ridicule in the comity of nations.
We appreciate INEC’s corrective measures in certain area and we commend the electoral body for this. For instance, it is on record that INEC extended dates in order to allow residents to have more time to pick their PVCs where there are flaws. INEC has also demonstrated the ability to use information technology to reduce problems associated with the inability to locate names on its register. We commend INEC for all these. Nonetheless, we note with grave concern the hiccups which have characterized the distribution of PVCs since the exercise began nationwide a few weeks ago. We therefore charge INEC to put its house in order.
The palliative measures adopted by INEC indicate flexibility. We are of the opinion that INEC can extend this flexibility to other areas in other to avoid chaos during the 2015 elections. We therefore suggest that Nigerians who registered during the 2011 general elections but whose names are still missing on INEC’s register should be allowed to use their temporary voters’ cards to cast their votes in February 2015.
Such people have satisfied all righteousness by registering properly and obtaining their voters’ cards during the 2011 exercise. They should not be held responsible for the current anomalies. INEC’s excuse of computer problems is untenable because the electoral body is expected to have taken precaution against such mishaps.
In the same vein, MURIC advises INEC to adopt positive diplomacy in handling the issue of Governor Fashola’s PVC. The electoral body must not allow Nigerians in general and Lagosians in particular to interprete the governor’s missing name as a calculated attempt to embarrass the governor and his wife. We contend that it is not proper for INEC to ask the governor to re-register, having been properly registered ab initio.
Has INEC forgotten that governors do not register quietly? Unlike that of ordinary citizens, a governor’s registration exercise is accompanied with pomp and pageantry. It is covered by the media with photographs and video clips.
There is therefore no doubt that even the Lagos State Government has documentary and incontrovertible evidence that Governor Fashola registered. So how does he go over all these again? The outside world must not hear this. It falls far below international best practices.
In view of the fact that this unfortunate anomaly has generated bad blood between INEC and the general public, and in view of the fact that there had been earlier controversies between the Lagos State government and INEC, like the missing 1.4 million names and the allegation of attempts by INEC to reduce the voting strength of Lagos, MURIC invites the Lagos chapter of INEC to sharpen its public relations paraphernalia.
In conclusion, INEC should sustain its flexibility by allowing people who have difficulties in collecting their PVCs to use their temporary voters’ cards to vote in 2015. This will douse the current tension all over the country. INEC top hierarchy should visit Governor Fashola as soon as possible to reassure the governor and apologise to him for the perceived embarrassment. In case INEC rules do not allow such visit, the electoral body can tender the apology in a public statement.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)