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Opinions Mon, 7 Sep 2015

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Assembly Polls: Bad story

On Tuesday the Electoral Commission (EC) missed a golden opportunity to make good its battered image. The district assembly elections which it had earlier postponed came on with an assortment of avoidable hitches.

Many years since elections became part of our system, we are nowhere near managing the democratic process without serious blemishes.

It was a dress rehearsal for next year’s polls. The EC, the polls have shown, is still bedeviled with the contagions associated with Charlotte Osei’s predecessor. Starting her tenure with the quality of polls we saw on Tuesday is portentous.

One assurance which resonated across the country a few weeks before the polls was the non-repetition of the sickening “election in tots” phenomenon as witnessed in the previous one and the 2012 elections.

For some reasons, we thought the EC had put a certain mechanism in place to obviate the anomaly hence, its gleeful rooftop announcement. Some electoral areas have had their polls postponed to new dates – evidence of elections in tots being played out: there is something which the EC is still not getting right and which the new head must study critically.

Mismanagement of elections has been the source of avoidable civil strife in some African countries and so the continuing recurrence of inefficiency in the EC regarding the subject should be addressed.

Having wasted so much money in the earlier botched elections, the last thing we should witness is a flawed and warped district assembly polls.

In a country with a population of less than 30 million, such anomalous developments should not be entertained; Nigeria with its vast population managed an election in a day. Why can’t we do same?

Why would election materials get to some locations so late in the day that the exercise had to advisedly be postponed to future dates?

The freezing of verification machines at some centres across the country, reminiscent of the last presidential and parliamentary elections, is not something we want to witness again. More so, it suggests that nothing has been done to address the lapses which discredited the integrity of the last presidential and parliamentary polls which nearly sent the country to the precipice.

We are constrained to state that the EC did not learn the bitter lessons of its inefficiencies of 2012. This is a lamentable observation – one which is a serious indictment on the integrity of the Commission, unfortunately.

When frustrated voters are unable to hold back themselves and ask whether the EC has been engaged to cause selective freezing of verification machines to trigger a particular outcome, we are tempted to agree with same.

Charlotte Osei’s maiden assignment should not have been greeted with such blemishes and outright signs of ineptitude. If she expected to be applauded for her performance, this has eluded her.

If there is something she needs to address at the EC, she must hurry and do same because the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for next year have high stakes and any faux pas could exact consequences. What a shame!

Columnist: Daily Guide

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