Sunday, 2 May 2010

Editorial: Even Though Maurice Iwu Is Gone......

The "order" last week by Nigeria's Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to the former Chairman of the country's electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu to proceed on terminal leave prior to his disengagement in June, was greeted with jubilations, mainly from the camp of opposition parties, because of the controversies inherent in his five-year tenure.

The controversies that dogged Maurice Iwu's tenure was not unprecedented in the history of tenure of elections umpires in Nigeria. It is a well established fact that right from  the time the conduct of elections started in the country, umpires have always been blamed for the many short comings of elections.

Some of these blames were justified, while others were not. Elections umpires in Nigeria have been known to show undisguised bias in elections in which they were supposed to be unbiased.

chidi opara reports recalls for instance, the cases of  late Chairmen of the defunct Federal Electoral Commission(FEDECO), Mr. Michael Ani and rtd. Justice Victor Ovie-Whiskey, who in the 1979 and 1983 general elections respectively, behaved more like officials of the then National Party of Nigeria(NPN), a participating party in the elections, than Chairmen of an institution charged with the responsibility of conducting the elections.

We are nonetheless not unmindful of the fact that the many problem that had dogged our elections over the years were also brought about by anomalies in the system.

A system in which electoral laws are so "watery" that they can be circumvented easily without serious consequencies would certainly not permit conduct of credible elections, also a political culture in which winners take all, leaving no rooms for participation for losers would surely provide reasons for "do or die" electoral contests.

chidi opara reports is of the opinion that even though Maurice Iwu is gone, if our electoral laws are not modelled to provide adequate and timely redress for the aggrieved and punishments for offenders,  independence of the electoral body in all ramifications and adequate political education for the citizenry which will emphasize politics as means of service to the nation and not avenue for self enrichment, our elections will continue to be short of expectations, even if we invite angels to oversee them.