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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Nigeria’s Election Badly Flawed, INEC Failed, Says Financial Times in Editorial

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As controversies continue to trail Nigeria’s just concluded 2023 presidential and National Assembly polls held last weekend, The Financial Times of London has said the elections were badly flawed, just as it lambasted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for misfiring.

The newspaper also advised the courts to take a hard look at the emergence of the president-elect, Mr. Bola Tinubu if his victory was challenged in court by his opponents.

The London-based publication gave the advice in its editorial published yesterday.
It added that Tinubu’s tally of 8.8 million in a country of 220 million people gave him the weakest of mandates.

It warned that the former Lagos State governor would be faced with one of the most difficult jobs in the world as Nigeria has been teetering on the edge of catastrophe with a breakdown of security and an almost total absence of growth.

The Financial Times argued that all that Nigeria needed was a clean election to reiterate the basic message of democracy where a sovereign people could choose its leaders, saying “sadly, it did not happen.”

It maintained that the, “election which appears to have delivered the presidency to Bola Tinubu, a wealthy political fixer running for the incumbent All Progressives Congress — was badly mismanaged at best.”

The publication added that the presidential election failed to set the example needed for West Africa, where too many national leaders have extended term limits or resorted to seizing power at gunpoint.

Noting that, “Nigeria remains a democracy, but only just,” Financial Times posited that the emergence of Obi as a viable third-party candidate had brought excitement and forced candidates to talk about policies, if only a little.

According to the paper, neutral observers had thought that INEC was in good shape and that they had high expectations that the electoral umpire’s promise to transmit voting tallies electronically from polling stations would eliminate ballot stuffing.

It added that, “the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, had staked what remains of his tattered reputation on a clean contest.

“Yet the INEC badly misfired. Voting started late in many districts, depriving millions of the right to vote. The system to upload results from 177,000 polling stations stuttered, causing legitimate concerns of vote tampering during long delays.

“Violence was troubling. Party goons invaded many polling stations in what appeared to be blatant acts of intimidation. The Financial Times witnessed armed men remove a presidential ballot box in Surulere, Lagos.”

It argued, however, that some individual results did not pass the smell test, which it stated, “includes Obi’s ever-so narrow victory in Lagos state, where crowds had greeted him like a rock star.”

It recalled that the courts in Kenya in 2017 and Malawi in 2020 had overturned suspect elections, maintaining that if Nigeria’s courts find suspicions, they should not shrink from annulling individual contests or even the whole result.

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