From the look of things, there will be no election in Nigeria without bloodshed. Election has become a do-or-die affair in this country. No amount of publicity and peace talk can stop violence that accompanies Nigerian elections. In fact, in the near future, election may become synonymous to violence since there is no election without violence.
The recent conducted elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states did not disappoint the expectations of many Nigerians who knew there will massive disruption of the process. As news had it, there was a high level of violence, vote buying, voters’ inducement, intimidation and harassment. Speculation also had it people died and some ad hoc staff are missing.
One couldn’t help wondering why violence must accompany elections. A lot of people blame poverty for this but I believe this problem supersedes poverty and its related challenges. Why I believe so is because most of the thugs and disruptors are from average homes where they have good means of sustaining themselves. Some are even students from tertiary institutions, whose parents believed were in school not knowing they left their studies in search of thuggery jobs.
I believe the major cause of the high rate of violence in elections these days is the massive salary, allowances and other earnings received by our public office holders. These aspirants that cause troubles know that what they will make in a tenure as public officers, they cannot make in a life time in their private businesses. They see politics as the easiest way to climb the ladder of wealth without doing much work. For this, they do all within their power to get “juicy” positions even if it means sacrificing their fellow human beings.
Nigerians have been campaigning for peace during elections. Mothers have been told to hold their children so they don’t become politicians’ thugs. Youths have been appealed to, to desist from violence. Even political aspirants have promised they won’t instigate violence. Yet, the thing that cries still cries, as my people will say. For that I suggest radical adjustments to Nigerian political system as an approach to curbing election crisis.
THE WAY OUT
If the current administration truly wants to put a stop to election crisis, they should consider the following:
- Electronic Voting System
The world is going digital; and so Nigeria should follow suit. There is need to cast votes electronically. This method isn’t the one that makes use of special electronic voting machines, where voters converge in a place to cast their votes (since the thugs will also converge and harass voters and INEC officials). The method I’m suggesting is the one that will involve the electorates sitting down in their homes and casting their votes with their mobile phones.
This method may sound outrageous, but it used by private establishments. For example, Big Brother Naija uses this approach and they are very effective. So why won’t it be adopted for election of public office holders?
- Salary Slash
If political office holders have to struggle for minimum wage the same way civil servants do, I don’t think anybody will want to take up any position, even if his village people donated him to the federal government. But on a more serious note, there won’t be much struggle for offices if the salaries, allowances and other mouth-watering entitlements of Nigerian public officers were significantly reduced.
- Adjustments in Qualifications
I’m not concerned about the paper qualifications or educational certificates the person has. My concern here is what makes the person eligible to rule or lead us. If you will take time to meditate on what I’m going to say here, you will agree with me.
Have you noticed that most of the aspirants that have huge businesses in Nigeria do not instigate violence? Have you noticed that most of the people that cause problems are those that have nothing to lose if this country goes up in flames because of election-induced violence? I mean, have you noticed that the ones that took up offices when they were already rich don’t scramble for positions and they vacate offices without scuffle?
I won’t mention names because I believe their good names speak for them. Because of the good examples laid down by these people, I believe it will be better if one of the prerequisites for vying for any political office is the evidence of establishing a network of businesses and companies that have been contributing to the growth of the nation’s economy. It will also be better if those businesses and companies have been in existence in the country for not less than 10 years, and that they show signs of growth and development. If this is adopted, all the people taking up political positions will think of policies that will help their businesses, and consequently the nation’s economy to thrive. This approach will only see people that want to develop the country in public offices, and not those looking for ways of enriching their pockets.
- Single Tenure System
Of course, if you are a busy man, who was elected by your people to help them develop the nation, and they pay you peanuts for that, you couldn’t wait to leave office. But because so much money is paid to these officeholders, and more money paid when they leave, they don’t want to vacate seats for others. For example, look at our senate and you will see those who felt their people do not have any other good person that can represent them (I didn’t say anything o). But seriously, Nigeria needs to adopt a single tenure system for public offices.