The recent accusations made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) involved in this year’s general election have been met with skepticism by Nigerians, who hold a deep distrust of the electoral body. Many believe that INEC itself played a significant role in the irregularities that marred the elections. Consequently, the news of impending legal actions against erring officials fails to excite the public, particularly as the presidential election outcome is still being hotly contested in court, with INEC displaying a lack of transparency regarding the events that transpired.
INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu addressed the RECs from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), revealing that the police had concluded their investigation into the suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner for Adamawa State, Yunusa Hudu Ari, and had submitted the case file to the commission. However, the public remains skeptical about INEC’s intentions, suspecting that these actions may be merely performative, aimed at appeasing critics rather than truly holding those responsible accountable.
Prof. Yakubu expressed his disappointment in the alleged mismanagement of duties by some RECs, urging them to remain loyal to their oath of office. However, given the prevailing sentiment among Nigerians, these words may fall on deaf ears, as citizens view INEC’s leadership as culpable in the shortcomings of the electoral process.
The month-long review of this year’s general election conducted by INEC, which commenced with the meeting of the RECs, is seen by many as an attempt to address the widespread irregularities and regain public trust. However, the skepticism persists, with doubts about the impartiality and effectiveness of the review process itself.
The chairman acknowledged the challenging circumstances faced during the general election and commended those RECs who performed well. Yet, this acknowledgment does little to assuage the concerns of Nigerians, who demand a thorough investigation into all aspects of the election, including the actions of high-ranking officials within INEC.
While INEC claims to be looking into evidence of infractions during the election and preparing for the prosecution of offenders, the public remains skeptical, questioning whether the commission will genuinely pursue justice or merely sweep the issues under the rug. The lack of transparency and willingness to disclose critical information about the electoral process has further eroded public trust.
In a bid to project an image of taking action, INEC revealed that it had received 215 case files from the Nigeria Police related to electoral offenses arising from the 2023 general election. The commission stated its collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to prosecute the alleged offenders, with lawyers offering pro bono services. However, given the prevailing sentiment, Nigerians doubt whether these measures will truly result in accountability and justice.
Additionally, INEC’s collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to address cases of vote-buying and associated violations is viewed skeptically. The public questions whether these efforts will genuinely yield meaningful outcomes or merely serve as a superficial display.
As INEC prepares to conduct four bye-elections before the end of the year, concerns about the integrity and credibility of the electoral process persist. Nigerians demand concrete actions from INEC to address the deep-rooted issues that have plagued elections in the country for years. The public remains vigilant, eager for INEC to demonstrate a genuine commitment to transparency, fairness, and accountability.
Given the skepticism among Nigerians and the ongoing legal battle over the presidential election outcome, the public awaits more substantial evidence and transparency from INEC. Only through a comprehensive and unbiased review of the electoral process, coupled with genuine efforts to rectify past
mistakes, can INEC hope to regain the trust of the Nigerian people.