Towards April 11 Polls

As nations of the world are still congratulating Nigeria on the democratic feat achieved in the Presidential and National Assembly Elections of Saturday, March 28, 2015, the focus is steadily shifting to the Governorship and State Assembly Elections coming up across the country, next Saturday, April 11, 2015.
Nigeria has indeed proven the international predictions of doom and disintegration rather wrong. Where they were expecting an electoral violence that will degenerate into national crisis precipitating disintegration, Nigeria recorded peaceful Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
The peaceful and patriotic disposition of President Goodluck Jonathan in accepting the results of the elections even before the official declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been globally adjudged as historic, exemplary and unprecedented in democracies across the globe.
As the focus now shifts to next Saturday’s elections, it is expected that the INEC will improve on its record by ensuring that election materials arrive at the designated polling units in good time so as to enable the commencement and completion of the scheduled polls within the stipulated time.
The two weeks’ time lag between the Presidential/National Assembly Elections and next Saturday’s Governorship and State Assembly Elections is expected to be effectively utilized by INEC in ensuring that the card readers that malfunctioned in parts of the country are now properly programmed to function optimally to add value to the conduct of the April 11 polls.
For the expected credibility of the process not to be tainted, efforts should be made to guard against the culture of under-aged voters in some sections of the country. The constitutionally stipulated voting age is clearly 18. It remains befuddling and deeply intriguing that children of between 8 and 14 years can be made to vote in some sections of the country.
The questions that arise are legion. Who registered these under-aged voters? Who issued them with the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and eventually accredited them to vote in a desperate bid to amass up some numbers as democracy is after all a game of numbers?
Because of the apparently low level of voter education that preceded the March 28 elections, many registered voters, who got duly accredited to vote, could not return for the actual voting as they had erroneously thought that the process had been concluded. This accounted for the significant disparity between the number of accredited voters in some states and the number of actual votes recorded at the end of the day. Political parties should do more work of voter enlightenment before Saturday’s polls.
There are not likely to be surprises from Saturday’s polls as the two major political parties have shown their domains of wide acceptability and control. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) appears to have retired strongly to their states of relative political advantage to ensure resounding victory in Saturday polls, especially as it has dawned on the leadership of the party that has lost power at the centre.
Bridges are being built; broken fences are being mended by the parties to ensure victory at the polls. We urge Nigerians to consolidate on the peaceful conduct of the March 28 presidential and National Assembly elections.