Why I oppose INEC and Nigeria’s Primitive Electoral Style

By Adeola Aderounmu

I remain firm in my opposition to the way Nigeria and Nigerians continue to accept and live with the manner of our electoral processes.

Nigerians have the latest cars in the world. They have the latest music and art collections. Nigerians are probably the best dressed people in Africa. Nigerians build state of the art types of houses. When these things are done by Nigerian politicians it is most certainly with monies that are stolen from the treasuries across the nation. No doubt.

Mention any new invention in mobile and telecommunication industry or any other field of human endeavors, you will find it among Nigerians. Just name it!

The only things that are not modern in Nigeria are the Bankole-Daniel types of Bridges, our federal, state and local government roads, government schools and other public infrastructure. An addition to the list is Nigeria’s fraudulent electoral machinery.

When you propose an argument that our elections must be done using modern approaches and acceptable conditions, a typical Nigerian will argue that Rome was not built in a day.

I remain puzzled by the average Nigerian mentality.

In other things mentioned above, Rome was built in a day.

For things related to stupidity of public services, unacceptable electoral mechanisms, corruption as a way of life and impunity as a vice that must be crushed, Nigerians will come forward saying Rome was not built in a day. O Americans got her independence so so so years ago….we can’t be like them.

These are the types of arguments that those who destroyed Nigeria or who are in the process of plundering the treasuries put ahead of their misdemeanors. Their aims are clear; to confuse the people and to ensure that corruption that enriches a few and enslave the rest of us remains the norm.

In extremely worrying situations religious organizations and bodies encourage Nigerians to pray about problems that require actions and doings. I’m worried.

What INEC is doing with regards to the registration of voters is actually wrong. In previous essays I have argued that it is the responsibility of the National Population Commission to undertake an appropriate census of Nigerians and the people living in Nigeria.

The NPC can easily pass the available figures and statistics to INEC and INEC can send out registration cards by post to our homes.

We have serious problems in Nigeria because as a people we are used to fraud and lies. The foundation of Nigeria as a country is built on deceit. Therefore there is no easy way forward for Nigeria. Still we must be very firm and committed when we undertake certain ventures like counting Nigerians.

One day, as we continue to hope against hope, this country called Nigerian may end up in the hands of the right people-committed people who have brains, who can use their intelligence to deliver the rest of us. It’s a hard call because all those who have been there since 1960 collectively, have failed. Loads of intelligence has gone down the drains. It’s an extremely sad situation.

In Nigerian census, goats and cows are counted so that people from a certain region-mostly the North-can have more people registered than other areas. If we follow the proportionality of the false census from the past, one may conclude that if 13 million people live in Kano then there are probably 30 million people in Lagos. But the corrupt Nigerian government agreed that there are more people in Kano than Lagos. In the world, you will find no greater fallacy!

The reasons for these manipulations of census figures are because Nigerian politicians are crooks. They allocate money to states based on these fake figures and they loot the money. During elections they use these fake figures to rig election results.

These are the vices that are blocking progress in Nigeria. Nigerian politicians lie, steal, murder, loot, cart away and even get away with everything. There are inadequacies in the Nigerian judicial systems that allow crooks and criminals to rule over the rest of us.

Sadly too, we have this resiliency that has been used to our detriment. We allow all kinds of rubbish and say “God dey”. Then we move on to the next stupid phase of our national life. For more than 50 years this country continues to rot away. The third of generation of Nigerians are wasting away and all we can say is “Rome was not built in a day”. Absolute nonsense, baba n’la rubbish!

As I was trying to say, the task of voters’ registration under a given period of time is over 2 000 years old. If Nigerians can apply technology in other aspects of their lives, why not in census figures? Why not to carry out successful elections?

We didn’t have to buy all the so called DDC machines we bought just for the purpose of elections in 2011. The machines have even disappeared into private hands. So somewhere there are falsifications of voters’ list in Nigeria.
Mark my words, 4 years from now, if Nigeria is still in existence, another government will order new machines for new voters registration.

For how long shall we continue to live like this as a country?

NPC must at all times have records of the people living in Nigeria. This is as simple as having a database for the registration of all Nigerians. Here are excerpts from what I wrote in 2007:

[This is the 21st century and it is now possible to count how many people live within a defined geographical region anywhere in the world without much hullabaloo.

To count Nigerians is not a 5-day project. It is not even a 50-day project. Counting in every country should be a routine work revealing how many people live in that country at a particular point in time. It should also involve close monitoring of the number of births or deaths that are recorded daily or periodically.

Taken simply in the Nigerian context, what we need in terms of knowing the population of Nigerians is a long term plan. It is a process that will start gradually, remain focused and eventually reach a stabile. Nigeria needs a system where her citizens are recognized by social security numbers (SSN) or what in other places is known as personal numbers (PN). This number which should be imprinted on our national IDs and passports is a tag that should not be changeable whatever happens! Everything that affects you (good or bad) should always be recorded against this SSN or PN on a computer database.

These SSNs should be with all public institutions under strict conditions of confidentiality and trust regarding the personnel that work in such offices. Some private institutions may have special access too depending on the nature of their assignments. It should not be possible for a person to have double SSNs because fingerprints will go along with them. However, that does not rule out that identities cannot be stolen but if the law catches up with such people, they should face the music directly. An individual’s SSN should be connected to records at the Hospitals, Tax offices, unemployment offices, Insurance companies, Motor Vehicle Licensing offices, Bank records, Statistics bureau, and so on and so forth.

Where do we start from in Nigeria? The problem in Nigeria is that counting is not done with sincerity of purpose. Politicians meddle with everything that is of National interest for selfish gains and personal reasons. This is the debacle that must be removed. A public institution like the NPC has to be re-engineered to catch up with modern realities. The way we count ourselves must change.

Nigeria needs to focus on the task of her census with long term considerations. A 5-10 year plan to count all Nigerians coupled with daily observations of changes from the start will be a good approach. This will make good planning possible. We should monitor daily population growth and periodic influx or out-flux. Where you reside in the country should not be a factor, the point is that we should know that you exist and live within a certain region in the country. If you leave the country, it should be possible to detect that. We should also be aware when you return as long as you have taken the legal approaches to do these things. In crime situations, people can beat some of the checks or controls mechanisms but the essence of knowing the estimated number of people will remain.

It is not ideal to count people in Nigeria using a deadline. This will leave room for panic and people will be rushing or running around aimlessly because they want to be counted in their homelands. There is no need to create chaos just because you want to meet a deadline. It is not necessary to count Nigerians in a hurry. It is also not a matter of life and death that a particular administration should be saddled with the task. Knowing the population is not a job for a particular regime, it is the reason that the NPC is in existence. This Commission, in the future and after good planning, should be able to send out population figures at a click! Nigeria must look into the future; make concrete plans for things that work forever, not temporarily.

What about the NPC registering every Nigerian at its local offices, giving out SSN and taking fingerprints? All the local offices should be connected to a central computer network at the headquarters. State of the art technology must be in place to detect multiple fingerprints.

This is the stage that the world has reached. A person need to be identified with his name, SSN, address, fingerprints, photograph, occupation, marital status, children (or not) and so on. A change of address should be immediately reported so that the state or local government knows who has moved in or out. People moved for many reasons; to be with family, change of job and so on.

Having a lengthy time to take care of population figures will be more than enough to let people know how population flow is observed and what is expected of everyone concerning their registration on the database. When a child is born for example, the hospital should have the means (either by the computer network) or otherwise to inform the local NPC of a delivery. Obviously, the families of newborns know that they are obliged to get SSNs for their children. Representatives of the local authorities would only need to see the baby and the information that they have received from the hospital about the sex, weight at birth, date of delivery and so on. The connection between the local authorities or local governments and the NPC should be paramount as the number of people in the locality should correlates with financial/economic implications.

In essence, taking care of population figures or census is not supposed to be a big deal. It should become a way of life. With time, all Nigerians will be registered. The operations of the NPC must be completely computerized with appropriate backups. The number of foreigners living among us should also be noted. They should also have SSNs that can be coded so that once they appear on the system, it becomes obvious that they are foreigners and the exact country they come from appears. The nature of their businesses in Nigeria should also be revealed by the same SSN.

It is unnecessary and a waste of time and resources to count people before, during and after elections. We should be able to click on the NPC database in the next 10 years and say there are maybe 150 million people in Nigeria. We should be able to say things like, 2 000 foreigners live in Ikeja and that 30 000 Nigerians have migrated to Europe in the last 2 years for example. The Nigerian embassies all over the world should have the responsibilities of the NPC in their various locations.

One hopes that in 2017, NPC will find it easy to look into its database system and tell us how many we are as Nigerians. One of their statisticians should be able to have a cup of coffee or tea by his side and still make a first click to find out the latest entry on the database network and a second click to give the total number of people that are Nigerians. By then it should be possible to stop counting cows, goats, chickens and sheep as humans. If Nigeria is also truly the heartbeat of Africa, then we need to set the pace not only in population or census aspects but in other areas that affect the quality of our lives.

The 2006 census should be the last time we count ourselves using paper and biro. It should also be the last time the government sent people to our homes for the purpose of census. We deserve our privacy! ]

(Original post: How to count Nigerians )

Since I wrote this piece on the Nigeria Village Square in 2007 nothing has changed. If the Nigerian government had been sincere, by now all we need to be doing is sending voters’ cards to our homes, not sending Nigerians out into the sun and rain thereby stressing life out of a people that are already hopeless. But no, we have a system of government that thrives on primitive ideas and massive corruption.

By now INEC should be concentrating on election matters and not registration of voters. Nigeria has been registering voters since 1959, when is that rubbish going to end? It’s funny when we call ourselves the giant of Africa. Nigeria by not being able to send out voters cards to our homes is simple a dwarf of Africa.

If our system of governance and the corruption in our system do not allow us to fashion our electoral processes according to the state of art technology, I repeat that Nigeria is the dwarf of Africa. Or how else shall we be an example to the rest of Africa? And please don’t start that argument about Rome?

If you still want to deepen the primitiveness of Nigerian electoral processes you should listen to Goodluck Jonathan on NTA News. He reiterated that Nigerians should register near their homes because movement will be restricted on the day of election.

When I hear such comments I think about the biblical Herod and the events of more than 2000 years ago.
Why should we restrict movement on the day of election? Why can’t I vote and go where I want to go? Why should our fundamental rights be taken away from us because of elections? There is even no guarantee that the votes will be counted.

The votes can be counted and manipulated because we don’t have a unified and acceptable census figures. Is it not amazing that in the recent Delta elections, ballot boxes were snatched and riggings were reported? The people who voted in the water areas were more than the people who voted on mainland delta.

All of these anomalies are what will be impossible once we get the population figures right. Ballot box snatching will be meaningless if the results of forgery do not tally with the people residing in the voting area. It will make the jobs of the electoral tribunal easy to carry out.

INEC’s DDC machines are not working in some places. The machines needed to be updated. Apart from that the problem of electricity means that the machines have limited time to operate.

Nigerian schools are closed because of voters registration, you will never find a more primitive society that the one that the Nigerian government has created.

If the National Population Commission is given the mandate as I suggested in previous essays there will be no interruption of the education of our children. Updating of the Nigerian population can be done weekly, monthly or annually. These are not impossible tasks. Sincerity of purpose will avail much.

The quality of education is already at an all-time low, yet we manage to close the schools either due to voters’ registration or more correctly due to threats of bombs here and there.

I must conclude. I have several reservations for the forthcoming elections in Nigeria. In 2003 and 2007, across Nigeria, the PDP master minded massive rigging of elections to keep up with a known tradition. In secret locations guarded by men with guns and machetes, men and women sweated as they thumb-printed their way to fake electoral results.

From a very reliable source I learnt that PDP chairmen across the nation supervised these rigging processes. Men and women who became ministers and ambassadors for Nigeria supervised and participated in the useless elections of 2003 and 2007. Goodluck Jonathan is a biggest beneficiary of that shameful process.

If anyone thinks that GEJ is ready to give up that process that brought him this far, that person needs to rethink about what we have on ground and that to this day-that there are no mechanisms to sustain the R.S.V.P campaign.

How do you protect a vote when the numbers of voters are not known? How do you protect a vote when some people will vote several times and results will be forged? This is not about INEC or Jega. This is about a system that is not ready for the mischievousness of the Nigerian mind. To me, what INEC is doing now doesn’t make sense?

Finally, what I see is a bunch of 140m people beating about the bush. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well. The charade of the 2011 will be revealed before our very eyes, soon!

I’ll continue to hope against hope that by 2015 we would have built our Rome.

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