By Jubril Bada & Bukola Olamona
Accusing fingers have been pointed at critical stakeholders in the polity for allegedly undermining the nation.s electoral process.
Comprehensive investigations carried out by The Hope showed that criminal connivance of some bad eggs within the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agents and some desperate politicians have been the bane of credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.
This is greatly undermining the efforts of the INEC to deliver credible and acceptable elections to Nigerians.
These views among others, were the submissions of the Catholic Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, the Chief Imam of Akure, Alhaji AbdulHakeem Yayi-Akorede and the former Ondo State Chairman of NLC, Pastor Oyekan Arije, during interviews with The Hope.
They opined that as major players in the conduct of credible and violence free polls, the electoral umpire and the security agents should come out clean and do everything possible to discourage financial inducements from selfish politicians, vote buying, riggings and politically motivated violence during elections.
According to the eminent personalities, sincere discharge of responsibilities by all electoral stakeholders, including politicians would strengthen democracy and restore confidence in Nigeria and Nigerians as citizens.
They insisted that INEC and the security agencies have the responsibility of delivering credible and transparent elections devoid of vote-buying, electoral violence and manipulation of election results.
They also stressed that if those undermining free and fair elections in the country, either politicians, political thugs or any other persons, no matter how highly placed, are brought to book without fear or favour, Nigerians would have been better for it.
According to them, the people must be allowed to freely choose their true leaders who would genuinely represent and protect their interests at all levels of governance.
They further called on relevant authorities to make political offices less attractive and be of part-time basis, to stop desperation and address issues of do-or-die among politicians at all levels.
Bishop Jude Arogundade said INEC must win the confidence of Nigerians by conducting credible elections, because without it, democracy will be defeated, saying anyone who is an umpire must come to the table with clean hands.
The Bishop explained that Nigerians no longer have confidence in the electoral umpire because of what has happened in the past during and after elections.
He said when Nigerians complained, nothing comes out of it, and the same thing would reoccur during future elections.
“Their credibility is under serious questioning, I’m not close to INEC but I know Nigerians have been complaining and nothing seems to have changed. No kind of respite to all the complaints of Nigerians, it’s really a very sad situation as there has been no credible election in the past years and people are becoming desperate.
“People are desperate just to win election at all cost, whether voted for or not, it’s so sad,” The Bishop added.
Also speaking, an elder statesman and former NLC Chairman in Ondo State, Pastor Oyekan Arije, said until the country decides to change its presidential system and change political posts to part-time, the problem would continue.
“Wherever a political and elective post is a full-time, politicians will be prepared to sacrifice anything to clinch that post. But if they are given sitting allowances and they are still doing whatever job they have been doing before getting there, then there won’t be do-or-die affairs.
“If the issue of humongous remuneration of political officers is removed, you will see that only those who are genuinely interested in working for the people would want to occupy posts in Nigeria. If you are a guard before becoming elected or selected, then after your service you go back to your job, people will be committed, there will not be cut throat struggles for positions,” Arije said.
He, recommended a long jail terms for anyone caught engaging in election malpractices, no matter how highly placed.
On his part, the Chief Imam of Akure, Alhaji AbdulHakeem Yayi-Akorede, undermining INEC efforts to deliver credible election will stop if the personality and antecedents of politicians are considered before giving party’s tickets to them to contest.
He added that the ugly trend will continue to rear its head if the questionable characters among politicians who are overambitious to occupy political positions continue to succeed in picking political party’s tickets to contest elections.
Also, the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, Kennedy Peretei and his Social Democratic Party (SDP) counterpart, Stephen Adewale, blamed security agencies and INEC for their conspiracy with politicians, especially the ruling party, adding that there is nothing politicians could do if security agencies actually refused to conspire with them.
Peretei said, “With the governorship elections conducted in Kogi, Bayelsa and lmo States,by the number of security personnel drafted to the states were enough to curtail any kind of violence. But security agencies are being paid to carry out violence during elections and sometime politicians respond to this violence.