Legal Practitioner, Kenneth Odidika has stated that the November 16 Anambra election could not have been successful, no matter the level of preparations made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While appearing on the November 24 edition of Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’, he said “no matter the preparations anybody makes, if some people are bent on truncating the system, they will succeed to a very large extent.”
Although he was not part of the arrangement, he believed that the activities of the electoral commission that could be seen before the Anambra election showed that they did a lot towards conducting a credible election, stressing that the attitude of the voters is one of the major things wrong with elections in Nigeria, he said “the voters always make themselves available to be corrupted or to be part of the corruption of the system.”
“When the voters will openly demand for money from those who are seeking to be elected, that automatically compromises the electoral process, and this was done in the last election. I was in Anambra all through, before, during and after the election.”
Mr Odidika, who had once contested for the governorship position in the state added, “No party will honestly say it did not take part in that. I saw it, and in some cases, some particular kind of officers in some parties were moving round the polling booths ensuring that such a thing was actually done… If INEC officials took money, I wasn’t aware of that.”
Also part of the programme, live from Channels Television studio, Abuja was an Election Observer at the Anambra governorship poll, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu who was of the opinion that INEC’s staff deployment in Anambra was not in any way unusual to what they have always done in other states like Edo in the past.
In agreeing with Mr Odidika’s views on the major factors that affected the election, Mr Nwagwu added that “the things we have papered for in the past, the precedence we allowed to stand in the past have come to hunt us and that is what we are dealing with now. Some of the issues that played up in Anambra were not things that INEC were not aware of in time past.”
He also argued that INEC is still involved in what he called “defensive public relations” with their claims that the reports of irregularities “is not widespread, reports cannot stand the test of time, it’s un-statistical… ” which are things that had been papered over and never dealt with in the past showing up again in Anambra to bring ridicule and shame.
Mr Odidika resolved that he would score INEC 65% for their creative efforts at the election but they could have done better claiming the issue of logistics should not have come up, considering the road network of the state which he said could help to cover the whole of the state in 2 to 3 hours.
Mr Nwagwu was however less subtle as he stated that public officers are put in position to solve problems and not to give excuses for why they failed. He stressed that the INEC Chairman, Professor Jega’s admission of regrets says a lot and Nigerians need to start asking questions about how public officers handle their jobs.
Discussions on the programme also touched on the controversies trailing the voter register and voter verification process, issues of underage voters, INEC’s introduction of technology, as well as the November 30 supplementary election, with both men warning about the identified challenges springing up again, ahead of the 2015 General Election.