By Emeka Chiakwelu

While journalists and pundits were busy running around and digging for?water where there is none, a major event that occurred during Anambra?governorship election have eluded them and was not fully reported in the?news. ?The November governorship election in Anambra State to replace?Governor Peter Obi took place in the absence of violence. ?Despite the?hotly and aggressively electioneering and high tempo campaigns there was?no single recorded violence or pandemonium on the Election Day.

Isn’t something? ?That such a development was left unreported and was?swept under the table. Can any person tell Nigerians an election in the?country that has been violence free?

With the gatherings of political wigs and political parties in Anambra
from all the four corners of Nigeria, there was no reported death, injury
nor rioting in the election. ?This is the most civilized election ever
conducted on Nigerian soil.The media gatekeepers and their cohorts failed
woefully to report it on the news development. Instead they were busy?crying wolves where there are none and neglected this powerful?development. This has shown the world that Anambra voters are descent and?law-abiding citizens that have shunned violence and its shenanigans in all?its forms. But this great act of civilization and decency were nowhere to?be found on the pages of Nigerian newspapers.

The election that produced Chief Willie Obiano as a winner was reasonably?a fair and free election. ?Yet some pundits and self-appointed political?analysts were behaving and acting otherwise. ?Their assumption rests on?the preposition that election must be perfect without any hitches to be?deemed free and fair. Are these journalists, pundits and analysts asking?for utopia? ?Being idealistic may be an intellectual and academic?exercises but pragmatism is a sense of maturity.

We all can come together and dialogue on how to make the process better,?but we cannot afford to demonise the entire process. Such a drastic action?with underpinning agenda may not be inimical for healthy political?process.

Even in advance societies that have all necessary infrastructures to?conduct fair and free election, there is hardly a perfect election. Then?talk of a developing nation like Nigeria without adequate facilitating?infrastructures and these journalists chose to indulge in idealistic and?Utopian overviews. ?Let us be realistic, Nigerian democracy is still?evolving and Anambra governorship election may not be perfect but by all?means it meets ?international standard and acceptability. ?Yes, there is?still room for improvement, but hypocrisy cannot be accepted as a virtue.

Even in the advanced democracy like United Kingdom, allegations of?election malpractices do occur, which are investigated and a report?issued. ?But elections which are reasonably free and fair are not cancel?or demagogue or litigate to oblivion. Take for instance, United Kingdom?Electoral Commission reported on 2010 electoral malpractice cases and it?published for everybody to read:

?Police forces recorded 232 cases in Great Britain of allegations of?electoral malpractice in the election reporting period. The majority of?cases of alleged electoral malpractice reported to police (137) required?no further action by the police. This was because no offence was found,?there was no evidence of electoral malpractice, or it was not possible to?detect the individual who might have committed an offence.

To date, two cases have resulted in court proceedings with one leading to?a conviction. Two cases have concluded with police cautions and 23 with?the police giving informal advice. At the end of 2010, 68 cases were?either still under police investigation or awaiting advice from?prosecutors.

Of the 232 cases of allegations in Great Britain included in the analysis,?216 were recorded by police forces in England, while seven cases were?recorded in Scotland and six in Wales. ?In Northern Ireland, the Police?Service of Northern Ireland recorded 25 cases during the whole of 2010.

The most frequent reported category of cases of alleged electoral?malpractice recorded by police forces related to voting offences (38%),?including personation at a polling station and tampering with ballot?papers. This proportion is similar to 2009. ?The second most frequently?reported category related to campaign offences (34%), including?allegations about false statements made in campaign material, or incorrect?legal imprints on campaign materials.?

I am not trying to justify some lapses, glitches and hitches on the?election in Anambra State but what transpired in the election cannot be?characteristic zed as the ?worst election? ever conducted by INEC as many?of these pundits have written and suggested. ?Let?s be candid what?happened cannot be raised and highlighted as a reason to require a?supplementary election even talk of cancelling the elections as some?political parties were suggesting.

Where was the fairness to governor-elect Willie Obiano who has already won?the election on the first round but have to wait for the supplementary?election to celebrate his victory? This is unprecedented in the history of?Nigeria and a zenith of unfairness to this gentleman? ?But being a?seasoned and corporate person, Obiano conducted himself in a decent manner?and waited for the INEC to finalise the election without complaining and?challenging the unfairness. ?This is a mark of being civilized and decent,?which is not common in our country.

The media should do the right thing. The decency of Anambra and Obiano?that went to the polls peacefully without violence have not been fully?reported and acknowledged. Anambra voters must be praised and be?acknowledged for keeping their cool and composition.

The major problem confronting Nigeria is political instability that comes?with violence, which makes it a difficult task for the government to?protect life and property. The people of Anambra have shown sound?judgement that was embedded with decency and decorum on the election?campaigns and ultimately on the Election Day. They deserved to be?respected not be used as a tool to make a negative point, where there is?hardly any.

Emeka ? Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have?appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other?important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in?many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning?including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic?Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental?objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa.
To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable?green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and?probity in Africa.
www.afripol.org, ? ? [email protected]

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