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Imo PVC collection centre attack, again underscores threat to election process

O ver the weekend some criminally-minded elements reportedly killed a police officer and injured some others during an attack on a Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) collection centre in Imo State This is coming on the heels of attacks late last year on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ogun and Osun states destroying offices and Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to be used for next year’s general election.

This was a first in this part of the country, hitherto attacks on INEC facilities had been mainly in the South East, with even a staffer of the Commission, Nwokorie Anthony paying the supreme sacrifice after he was shot dead at Nkwo Ihitte (PU 004) in Amakohia Ward (RA 02) of Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area of Imo State by gunmen in April 2022 while taking part in Continuous Voter Registration Exercise (CVR) exercise. It is in this connection that New Telegraph sympathises and empathises with INEC over the latest incidents.

However, these are clear indications that all is not well in the run up to the polls despite assurances to the contrary by the election umpire. We wish to point out with dismay that the assault is a pointer to the fact that the nation’s democracy is still in an embryonic state and under serious threat.

This is evidenced by the high degree of desperation exhibited by some political gladiators to earn electoral capital in order to occupy elective positions and some non-state actors to torpedo the polls. In what has remained a puzzle of human behaviour, political gladiators rarely complain against the high nomination fees charged by their parties and equally shy away from helping to bring pressure to bear on them to review such absurdity amidst wide-spread poverty in the land. Instead, they keep mum thereby giving endorsement to the abnormality.

In a further act of endorsing the high nomination fees, they do everything humanly possible, including cutting corners in official, private or corporate settings, to raise the humongous fees. Such desperation is extended to the conduct of primary elections, with some political activists going all out to manipulate the exercises to their favour while disregarding the laid down rules and regulations. Electoral reforms appear to have helped tighten the noose round the neck of each officeseeker with the intent of undermining the electoral process for undeserving electoral capital.

However, some desperate politicians seem not to be giving up. They have reportedly responded with other unlawful acts including the recent attack on the INEC offices in Ogun and Osun states and assault on the PCV collection centre in Imo. The successful destruction of the INEC facilities along with offices and PVCs is an indication that insecurity continues to pose a huge obstacle to the pursuit of lawful endeavours in Africa’s most populous country. The referred unlawful act in Ogun State is an indictment on the relevant security agencies, which have repeatedly assured Nigerians of being on top of the security situation. We urge the populace to shirk off their visible apathetic political behaviour and push for measures to help reduce the desperation among political activists to the barest minimum.

One of these should be the downward review of the nomination fees charged by political parties in Nigeria. The alibi that political parties use the high nomination fees to raise revenues for their operations should not be accepted as a basis for the sustenance of a practice that have resulted in the extensive monetisation of the political process. Individuals, no matter how wealthy, should not be allowed to be sole financiers of political parties. Instead, members of political parties, regardless of their socio-economic status, should be encouraged to help sustain their parties through the payment of membership, monthly and other prescribed fees.

It should be acknowledged that political offices, whether elective or appointive, have manifold attractions. Apart from juicy salaries, some political office holders are recipients of laundry hazard, entertainment and travel allowances as well as security votes and other perks supplied at tax-payers’ expense. Houses and vehicles are not only made available to the political office holders but are equally maintained from the public till. For as long as these and others attractions are continuously ceded to some political officeholders, desperation would never go on sabbatical.

This is why conscious efforts should be made to do away with the attractions so as to make political offices less-enticing. This development would help unleash on the country more competent and selfless political office-holders. With servants of the people, Nigeria would surely match forward to the Promise Land of sustainable development.

It would not be out of place for INEC to seek collaborations with an equally strategic but older public outfit like the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST). The latter has presence in all the 774 local government areas of the country, which unfortunately is not the case with INEC, in spite of its extensive media visibility and control of large funds. Sensitive materials of INEC could safely be kept and preserved in the vaults of post offices owned by NIPOST across the country. Security agencies should also do well to ensure improved surveillance on all INEC facilities across Africa’s most populous nation.

 

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