Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Voters Registration Exercise: A BIG SHAM

Voters Registration Exercise: A BIG SHAM

By Demola Yaya

The present farce tagged “voters registration and revalidation exercise” by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commenced October 25 is a graphic indication that both the commission and the Obasanjo’s regime can never conduct a credible, free and fair election come 2007 general elections.

Before the commencement of the exercise, Chairman of INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu had eloquently boasted that all stage was set for voters registration and revalidation. He toured all the six geo-political zones to meet with political parties and other stakeholders to assert the level of preparedness of his commission.

However, events in the last 3 weeks have seriously revealed the unseriousness on the part of the commission to handle the exercise. Out of 33,000 Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines required, only 1,000 have arrived, according to Iwu. This has made INEC register centres invisible. Enthusiastic Nigerians who have trooped out en-mass to register were disappointed with the hiccups that have marred the exercise.

There have been problems of personnel and materials shortage all over the country. In Agege Local Government Area, for instance, only 3 out of the 8 DDC machines are working. Out of 808 in Mushin L.G, only 8 machines are available. In Osun State, only 22 DDC are available for over 2 million voters. In Rivers State, only 32 machines out of 1,111 machines meant for the 4,441 polling units were available.

Even in few places where the machines are sighted, trained technicians could not operate them. Again, machines fail to work in the hands of good operators. Where the machines work with trained technicians, there is no electricity to charge the battery of the machines. In a rare occasion where everything works, required forms are either not sufficient or available.

It should be noted that voters registration is an integral part of the electoral process and a key determinant of transparent and credible election. Hence, every indicator has shown that there cannot be a free and fair election come 2007.

According to INEC, each of the machines is to register 500 voters and it takes 5 minutes to attend to every prospective voter. This implies that if all the 500 people registered turn out on the election day, it will take 41 hours (almost 2 days) for an exercise that will only take 8 hours (8am-4pm). And we all know that it takes much longer than 5 minutes to register.

If the “elections” take place at all, manipulation and rigging that characterised 2003 farce dubbed elections will be a child play. Rigging and manipulation will be made easy electronically. It is only when the poor working people come to the conclusion of forming a mass based working peoples party built on a socialist programme can the mass rigging be checkmated as they will be prepared to vote en-mass and defend it. In the absence of this, 2007 elections will not be inspiring as one political rogue will be replaced by another.