How Elections Should be Conducted in Nigeria

Opinion

In 2011, a total of =N= 130 billion was spent by the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct the elections. On the December 20, 2014, sums in excess of 21 billion Naira, was raised for the president’s re-election bid. But to what end? We ask ourselves. On the 27th July 2006, Funsho Williams, was murdered…

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In 2011, a total of =N= 130 billion was spent by the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct the elections. On the December 20, 2014, sums in excess of 21 billion Naira, was raised for the president’s re-election bid. But to what end? We ask ourselves.

On the 27th July 2006, Funsho Williams, was murdered in his Ikoyi home. Williams was the likely candidate to pick up the PDP gubernatorial ticket for Lagos state as the 2007 election loomed. Dr Ayo Daramola, a former World Bank consultant and aspirant for the Ekiti State governorship was also murdered in that same year. Otunba Dipo Dina was murdered in January, 2010 in Ota. He was to partake in the 2011 election.

After the 2011 elections, over 11 members of the National Youth Service scheme where brutally murdered in Bauchi state. The election violence that swept the country cost over 1000 lives and left thousands displaced. To some people this was surprising because the 2011 elections was said to be generally free and fair, unlike the preceding elections, but still that did not stop a violent uprising.

During every election the Nigerian Money Markets suffer dearly. With the kind of political instability Nigerian elections bring with it, there is always a drought on investment in the Nigerian economy during this period. As a result of the political instability created by the 2014/2015 electioneering, and the anxiety of what the outcome would eventually be, foreign investors pulled over 846 billion Naira from the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2014.

Yet, after all these, the Nigerian people still emerge with the most mediocre leaders, who conduct affairs of state in the most grotesque manner, even Mugabe would be embarrassed.

It has become clear that the present way of conducting elections is dangerously divisive, expensive and utterly ludicrous. And for the sake of the continued existence of the Nigerian State this must be changed. We do not doubt that most of our problems in this country can be traced to elections. In a Nation-State comprised of 250 ethnic groups an election process left to the discretion of certain individuals, like the INEC chairman, is highly dangerous. To mitigate this problem, I suggest we adopt a market-based balloting system.

Instead of all the platitudes written and re-written in the form of electoral reforms, here are practical machinations for the implementation of a market-based electoral balloting system that the Nigerian state should adopt.

First, the federal and state parliamentary, local government, and ward councillors would be done. Anybody who desires to fill any of these positions, once they meet certain requirements could put them names in the ballot systems for selection. No matter the party you belong to, if you want to become a member of the senate, the House of Representatives, a local government chairman or a ward councillor, you are required to put your name in the election ballot system – once you meet the requirements. These requirements could include an age range, minimum education qualification, etc. Then on Election Day, the balloting is done, electronically, for every position, in all the constituencies, local governments’ areas and wards involved. The first name that emerges, for every balloting round, for the position in question, irrespective 0f the political party becomes the winner of  that position. This way the election is determined to be free and fair. And when people feel there was no foul play, they would generally accept the result.

Now, it is the winners of the parliamentary elections, through the balloting system, at the federal and state levels, that elect the president and governor respectively. In this way the extremely expensive and ludicrously divisive electioneering process can be done away with. Through this process those aspiring to be governor or president would not need to marshal billions of naira for their campaigns, or siphoned state funds for electioneering and election violence in Nigeria would be eliminated or mitigated to negligible levels.

Responses

  1. Nosa
    First??!!!!!

    Nice and totally unexpected suggestion.

    I can’t even begin to point out the reasons why this will not even work bot in theory and practice.

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      1. Nosa
        “Anybody who desires to fill any of these positions, once they meet certain requirements could put them names in the ballot systems for selection.”.

        These just throws it open for anybody of the required standard to put his name. I’m betting almost every C.E.O and “political commentator” will put his name. Not to downgrade the quality of candidates it would put out but this will just completely dilute the pool. You already have as much as 30 parties contesting for some paliamentary positions, and that is because they can support themselves financially, imagine throwing that position open to everybody without putting up a high enough entry requirement.

        Ignoring that, my reason for saying it wont work is because of the level of corruption in this country even among the common man who cries about it. The level of corruption just makes it seem that any system proposed would be almost impossible to implement. how can the system, whatever it is, work well if the people running and operating it are corrupt.

        You mentioned the American electoral College, I didn’t even realize that they had it so i checked it out. I like the system. But it doesn’t remove the need for parties because while they don’t conduct primaries, i think, for the candidates, the American public elects the contesting presidential candidates from the options provided them by the parties. And that system is made workable because of the plenty checks and balances that the American Constitution has and the almost minimal level of corruption.

        i like your system, but on the surface it feels extremely vague. and while the concept is fluid and can be fitted to the ethnic and cultural landscape, corruption remains our biggest stumbling block

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        1. Tam
          Nice one.

          Remember I did not give any requirement. I said the requirements would be decided. Please what is wrong having a CEO maybe of a company like GT Bank become a senator? Does that Individual not have what it takes as evidence shows to perform such duties. We spend billions on the current way we conduct elections – sometimes even looting the state treasury for the electioneering – but still end up with the most mediocre leaders. Someone always handpicks his God son. If Obasanjo did not make the current president the Vice president of Yaradua, would anybody have heard of this man? If we are to choose 100 men or women capable of running this country today, would the current president be on that list?

          This method put serious checks on the manipulation of the electioneering process. The results are known immediately, and not counted in the dark corners of INEC offices where manipulation of the result could take place – as is the case now.

          You practically agree with me.

          Your major snag about the workability of this system is corruption, and that is what this system checks. It prevents political godfathers from making their godsons “consensus candidates”; it prevents the looting of the treasury by incumbents for electioneering; it gives opportunities to other Nigerians – like the CEOs and political commentators you talk about – to have a chance at running the country, thus denting the political dynasties we have in the country today, e.g. the Fani-Kayodes, The Sarakis, The Yaraduas, The Abachas, the Tinubus, the Obasanjos, the Orjis – you get my point.

          This system, as I see it, with little adjustments here and there is perfect for Nigeria currently.

          Just look at the March 28 election. Many people are afraid of doing anything, there is already violence in the air, gun men attacking and killing people at political rallies, people are converting their money to dollars so they can escape quickly if all goes south, there is artificial scarcity of fuel, students are running back home to avoid the likely violence that might take place on some university campuses.

          With all these, do you still think that my system is a bad idea or not workable?

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  2. FARA
    Interesting suggestion but you must admit, it is too left field and random to be a practical solution. You just have to trust the current system as it is, we are still a young democracy and eventually we will slowly but surely weed out the bad elements in the system.
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    1. Tam
      We are still young a democracy is a ridiculous excuse. Singapore, a former British Colony was less developed than Nigeria in the 60s and today Singapore is developed country and the envy of South Asia – all thanks to Lee Kuan Yew.

      How long are we going to wait for the bad elements to be weeded out? Another 50 years? Nigerians are not generally good people, so the only way to deal with Nigerians regarding anti-corruption and good governance is to resort to pragmatic solutions.

      In Britain the people do not elect a prime minister, they elect a party, and the party chooses a prime minster – who is usually the party Head. This is not very much known, but the American people don’t elect a president, they elect an electoral college who then elects the president.

      Cant we see that the current way we conduct elections is extremely divisive. Political assassinations and kidnappings peak during every elections. Thousands of people die a a result of post election violence every time. The Nigerian Stock Market crashes and bleeds cash during every election.

      One of the major causes of political Instability in Nigeria is rooted in election. Men, especially Nigerians are Megalomaniacal and would do anything to hold power. But in a country that was carved from different nations and ethnic groups, the only way to ensure peace is to is to use Market based Solutions. Balloting especially at the legislative, local government and ward level is a market based solution.

      Nigeria does not need Idealism. It needs practical solutions. Ones that are impervious to the manipulation of the people, and this is what I have set out to do here.

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  3. Anonymous Aboki
    Hey Tam,
    I really, really like your thinking..your piece on the Nigerian police, now this..can we be friends, or acquaintances in the least?
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  4. Elohor
    Trust Nigerians they would find a way to s**** this system also,but it would force the electorate to pick better reps,cos they would be giving them power to vote in higher political office holders.
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    1. Tam
      Very True… As crocked Nigerians get smarter, we set up more checks for them. And Yes as have pointed, the power to elect would be put in the hands of Nigerians by a very transparent method.
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  5. Mrpresident
    Mr TAM,I know that our electoral system needs fixing…but did u say we will vote “electronically”?.What does that even mean?the solution you are suggesting will be surely needed in the future but definitely not now.I agree with Nosa’s comment
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