The much talked November 16 Kogi /Bayelsa states elections have come and gone. Expectedly, the winners were announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) amidst hues and cries that continue to greet the outcomes. I think the battle will be shifted to courts. In Kogi state, Governor Yahaya Bello, who wanted to secure second term, was declared the winner. Although, the candidate of PDP, Musa Wada, and his party are said to have rejected the result of the poll, INEC has since issued the certificate of return to Bello. Notwithstanding the pocket of violence, ballot snatching, vote buying and other malpractices that characterised the poll, President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Yahaya Bello and described his re-election as well deserved.
In Bayelsa state, the outcome of the election has surprised many including political pundits. For instance, in the past 20 years, Bayelsa has remained a PDP state. However, with the emergency of David lyon of APC as governor elect, the ruling party has gradually reared its head to South-south which in the previous elections proved hard nut or no-go-areas .Now, Bayelsa state has become an APC state. But out-going governor Seriake Dickson should share the blame for the PDP defeat. The failure of PDP to win the election was self-inflicted carefully hatched by Dickson. He imposed candidate and failed to carry other stakeholders along. Now, it is history. There are numerous lessons from the just concluded polls.
Election in Nigeria is still a do-or-die affair. In Kogi and Bayelsa states, there were cases of disruption of elections by political thugs. The centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in its report put the death toll at over 10 people in Kogi . Even after the election, it was reported that PDP women leader was gruesomely murdered by suspected thugs. The desperation of our politicians to win election at all cost has continued to pose great challenges for the growth and development of our democracy. We keep blaming INEC for its imperfection or shortcoming, but fail to remind our politicians that election should not be a matter of do-or-die. There is the need to play the game according to the rules. Sadly, in the last elections, our politicians had failed to conduct themselves within the ambit of law.
It seems performance which should serve as criterion for electing our leaders has been discarded. While in developed democracies, political leaders are elected based on their track record of services delivery, in Nigeria reverse is the case. One particular governor who was the director campaign had knelt down during campaign and apologised to electorate on behalf of a candidate. He appealed to the electorate that his candidate was young and bound to make mistakes. Based on this statement, the electorate should continue to elect leaders even if they have failed to discharge their constitutional responsibilities.
With the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa elections, it appears our democracy is still rudimentary. With the reported cases of violence and other electoral malpractices that marred the polls, it has shown unless we change our attitude, the 2023 elections would be worse than the previous ones. God forbid!
Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna state