Politics

The Dilemma of Election Observation: The Nigerian Perspective

The anxiety masked on elections is one of the features people get to experience before an election.

Elections are critical moments that if not well controlled can inadvertently cause pandemonium. However, fixing those loopholes would help prevent post-election crises which are some of the reasons for inviting election observers to checkmate election activities.

Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria: What is the job of an election observer(s)?

An election observer is basically, an individual, groups, assigned to stay put in a place (country) for a limited period of time, before the election, during the election, and possibly wait until the results are announced.

The Nigerian political system apparently, is slightly different from other climes. One huge advantage of running a democratic system of government is the room for fairness in its rule of law.

Since 1999 Nigeria became a democratic nation, which series of elections have been held; with domestic and international observers granted permission to monitor the elections.

However, these observers mostly, domestic from all holistic angle, only act as puppets to political aspirants as the need to give a fair and balanced report is trampled.

In the quest to deliver a credible election, international observers most especially are deemed worthy to monitor election proceedings. Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria. But sometimes, the invitation may be insignificant when these accredited observers do not have the luxury to have a full reportage of the elections. 

The altercations between the election observers and security operatives had remained an issue to worry about. Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria. There is no symbiotic relationship between these two which many Nigerians have consistently asked questions but with no satisfying answers.

Ideally, the presence of security operatives during an election is meant to create sanity. However, the case isn’t so in a couple of elections carried out in Nigeria. Observers especially domestic observers, have seldomly been accused of exhibiting laxity in their quest to monitor election proceedings. 

Issues ranging from money exchanging hands during elections were never reported. While some observers have been accused of keeping mute because of the brown envelope (Money) giving to them.

On the other hand, the presence of security operatives during the elections seem inconsequential as many of the electorates believe, these agencies are mercenaries for election rigging.

Furthermore, cases of preventing observers from going close to collation centres is an issue to account for. No doubt there is room for improvement, conducting a free and fair election can be achieved when the right tools are effectively carried out.

Read also: Biafra Republic: Whose Voice is the Loudest: Youths vs Ohaneze Ndi Igbo?

Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria: Concern areas to work upon

  • Late arrival of election officials and security personnel.

The late arrival of election officials and security personnel to election venues is one of the disturbing areas usually witnessed in elections in Nigeria.

Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria. The late arrival of these personnel can disrupt the free flow of election activities as it can cause delays and then give room for miscreants to carry out their plans.

When issues like this happen, the tendency for an inclusive election sets in. It can be challenging for election observers to freely monitor and report such situations because of the threat to their lives

Election observers assigned to monitor and evaluate elections in Nigeria may not be able to give an accurate report because some are denied access in the correlation centres.

  • Logistics

For an improved electoral system, Nigeria needs to have an enhanced electoral system. Logistic issues have marred so many elections in Nigeria and to get things right, adequate preparedness, must be effected.

Ironically, it takes four years before fresh elections are conducted in Nigeria, yet, there is a lacuna experienced during elections. Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria. Logistic materials like sensitive and non-sensitive need to arrive on time so that the election can run efficiently.

Recommendations to make elections in Nigeria get better

Unfortunately, elections in Nigeria are yet to be given a thumb up. This is because of the irregularities and outcomes after the elections. Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria. Therefore, it is imperative to get things working. It can take time, but with consistency, the voting system in Nigeria will improve.

Steps to make elections get better in Nigeria to include the following.

  • Use the police instead of soldiers
  • Install security cameras in voting centres
  • Tackle all logistics concerns beforehand
Is Nigeria set to use the electronic voting system?

In a bid for Nigeria to have a working electoral system, many Nigerians have recommended that Nigeria join their counterparts to use the electronic voting machines. For example Australia, Italy, Brazil, the UK, India, France, and in Africa, Namibia.

But the big question is Nigeria ready for the E-voting system? Things to look out for before any country can implement the electronic system is the resources (finance), prospects, and technology strength.

Looking at these factors, it seems Nigeria is ready with the following explanations.

  1. Finance: Nigeria spends a lot of money during the election period. Still, this does not guarantee a free and fair election. It is vital to cut down cost especially by producing some of the sensitive materials back home.

This will help reduce election costs and can be channelled towards setting an E-electoral system.

2. Technology: The technology industry is seeing some increase. Election monitoring and observation in Nigeria. For Nigeria to have an improved election, an E-voting system would be needed. For now, the prospect appears bleak but if more energy is channelled, it will get better. The use of technology will help speed-up things and reduce irregularities during elections.

Conclusion

Elections in Nigeria can improve if the necessary logistics to run a free and fair election are put into place.

Also, election observers should be allowed to carry out their job effectively without fear or favour. The federal and state government should work in synergy to ensuring that post-election crisis is avoided.

With these, international election observers in Nigeria in their assessment can file the election process as something worthy of emulation.

Furthermore, the scanning system should be tested before use, data capturing (biometrics) should be worked upon if Nigeria wants to get her elections right.

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