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2011 Polls: Let Us Get Our Priorities Right

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As the 2011 elections approach Nigerians and the agencies concerned with the exercise should ensure that everything that is needed for a credible election is done without wasting much time.

The body charged with the overall responsibility of conducting the elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has announced that the elections would hold in April next year.

As parts of its preparations for the polls, the electoral body has awarded contracts running into billions of naira to acquire the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines for registration of voters and other logistics for the exercise.

We are also happy with a report that INEC has concluded plans to install Closed-Circuit Television Cameras in polling units.

We are made to understand that the novel system (in this part of the world) would only be restricted to only 12,000 polling units out of the 120,000 polling units nationwide.

We salute this initiative of INEC and hope that the system will not be abused.

Our past experience of outright rigging through the stuffing of ballot boxes, declaration of election results without voting, snatching of ballot boxes and manipulation of the voters’ register, clearly calls for the deployment of CCTV in strategic parts of the country to identify those actually responsible for these malpractices and bring them before the law. It will also curb the perpetration of violence.

The system will also aid the speedy dispensation of justice in electoral fraud, as the CCTV will reveal to the judges participants in elections manipulation and fraud.

Another benefit of the system is that it will make every vote count. The era of stuffing ballot boxes and manipulating voters’ register will also be a thing of the past.

Another issue we want INEC to look into is a possible audit of all polling booths in the country, following reports that about 30,000 of the so-called 120,000 polling booths in the country are bogus ones.

We implore the Prof. Attahiru Jega-led commission to set up a verification team to verify the location of the polling booths and ensure that they actually exist. By doing this, the commission will be able to know the authentic number of polling booths nationwide, their locations and the expected number of voters per polling booth.

This will enable INEC to have a reliable estimate of voters expected to vote in each polling booth.

A verification of the polling booths will also enable INEC to cut cost and use money for other logistics for a smooth election. All these measures are necessary for a credible election and INEC must leave no stone unturned in its preparations to achieve this.

We need not repeat here that the conduct of next year’s election will either make or mar the country. It is our hope that it will uplift Nigeria to the comity of responsible nations.

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