Frankly speaking, the signing of the Amended Electoral Act, 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari has redeemed and significantly enhanced the ethos of democracy vis-a-vis, our electoral system that has also greatly reduced electoral malpractice and malfeasance to its barest minimum. This is courtesy of INEC’s introduction of Direct Data Capture (DDC) and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
To, therefore say, it is the major and highly commendable legacy President Buhari will be bequeathing to this nation would be stating the obvious.
For the first time, the electorate are now major determinants in electing the leaders of their choice.
The recent elections in Ekiti State and mostly Osun State respectively are euphoric and epoch-making.
Imagine, the incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, All Progressive Congress (APC) standard bearer, losing massively to the candidate of rival People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke a.k.a “the Dancing Senator.”
Alas, lest we forget, before the advent of this Electoral Act, 2022, it was not devoid of high-wired political intrigues by desperate political jobbers with the connivance of some members of National Assembly, who did everything humanly possible to scuttle it, hence its dilly-dallying.
But at last, the Almighty God, who has a final say in everything, thwarted their evil and hidden agenda.
For that, may his exalted name be glorified in Jesus name, Amen. For that big Gbosaa to Mr. President, INEC and other patriotic minds.
But that notwithstanding, it is not yet eureka or Uhuru as another ugly monster is gradually and worrisomely gaining ground in our body polity.
In fairness, inducements of voters by politicians during election is not strange, but as old as Methuselah, but of late the brazen, audacious and shameless manners deployed by these desperados call for serious concerns.
The same scenario also reared its ugly head during the presidential primaries of the two major political parties, APC and PDP, where the highest bidders emerged winners to the detriment and expectations of well-meaning Nigerians.
Little wonder, Peter Obi who saw the handwriting on the wall called it quits and defected to the Labour Party (LP) and now he is better for it.
Sadly enough, it happened under the watchful eyes of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Mr President.
Even in the Ekiti State election, where some culprits were allegedly arrested, till this moment of my writing, they are yet to be prosecuted.
It, therefore, raises great doubts about the sincerity and seriousness of those saddled with such responsibilities and also the ‘holier than thou attitude of Mr President as regards his phobia for corruption.
Now the big poser: how will this ugly monster (Vote-buying) be tamed as the 2023 elections inches closer? Because, if not adequately checked and hopefully nipped in the bud, the much heralded Electoral Act, 2022 objectives will be highly eroded and thereby defeated. And moreover, it will inadvertently impede the realization of a new emerging nation, unfortunately leading to the emergence of another clueless, rudderless, visionless and lacklustre administration. God forbid! This will also derail the avowed determinations by Nigerians, who are now desirous of good governance and new lease of life.
This, therefore, brings to the fore, what should be done to make this needed-elixir come to fruition. How? That is the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission to effectively tackle that hydra-dreaded monster and other related malpractices and bring the perpetrators to justice. Methinks that both partakers: givers and receivers should be equally prosecuted. You would vividly remember with nostalgia that the idea of the Electoral Offences Commission was initially recommended by the Uwais-led committee on Electoral Reforms at the behest of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, following an outcry that greeted the 2007 general elections, that were heavily marred by malpractices.
Maybe, whether in the usual Nigerian style or probably because of the death of Yar’Adua, or it died a natural death, could only be left to conjecture. The ball is, therefore, in the court of Mr President and mostly the National Assembly members to earnestly push and fast-track the passage of the proposed Electoral Offences Commission Bill.
This will inevitably lead to the establishment of a special tribunal and commission that will be able to pick the offenders and immediately investigate them and mete out appropriate punishments to them.
That I feel is the only antidote to put a stop to this worrisome menace.
Last line: “According to Warren G. Bennis, leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”. That is what Nigerians need at the moment. Shikenah!
• Charles Azubuike (Snr.), writes from Onitsha, Anambra State