From its inception as the Independent National Electoral Commission to its renaming as the Electoral Commission (EC), the election regulation body has done a lot to enhance the democratic dispensation of the country.
Like the typical policeman who is not liked by the ordinary person but is the first person to approach when one is faced with danger to life and property, the EC is not spared castigation, innuendoes, insults and flack whenever a participant in an electoral contest is defeated.
At the same time, it has been praised as the best by those who have won elections.
In all these challenges, the EC has stayed focused, if even it has been distressed for a while, to hold elections that have helped entrench the country’s much-touted democratic credentials around the world.
It has held several district level elections since 1998, as well as seven successful national elections since 1992. It has also supervised many elections held by political parties and other entities.
The EC derives its mandate not necessarily from the act that established it but also, to a large extent, by its credibility and the trust people have in its activities. It is these attributes that have seen it brave the odds over the years.
However, current happenings in the electoral body do not portray it as a body that has that huge responsibility for ensuring the growth of our democracy and its consequent effects on the peace, stability and development of the country.
Just recently, the commission was embroiled in a lot of controversies, obviously from power play by its top officials. As of now, investigations into alleged abuse of office and corruption levelled against some of its top officials have not come up with the findings, whether adverse or otherwise.
The atmosphere at the EC is not conducive and the industrial harmony that should prevail for effective work to go on is virtually absent. Information reaching the Daily Graphic is that meetings of the commission are irregular. There are complaints that people who have reported their missing voter ID cards for replacement for months have not had any encouraging response as to when their requests will be met among other issues.
Meanwhile, all these are happening at a time when the EC has one of the tightest timetables as far as national electoral activities are concerned. The electoral body is supposed to organise district level elections next year. It is also to conduct a referendum on the creation of new regions. After these, the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections are beckoning.
It is for these reasons that the Daily Graphic shares in the sentiments expressed by some governance experts and advises that everything possible must be done to bring back industrial harmony to the EC as soon as possible. To this end, we urge the chairperson of the commission, as the leader of the organisation, to demonstrate leadership by building bridges across to her subordinates.
We also urge the other commissioners to give the leader the necessary cooperation and respect that will ensure that the EC bounces back to work. It is also important for the investigating body to prioritise the probe into the EC’s affairs and expedite work, so that the necessary recommendations will be implemented soonest for the benefit of the country.
The government, no doubt, has an important role to play in this. The electoral body is independent, but as we learn in conflict resolution, the government can play behind-the-scene roles to bring the misunderstanding that is affecting work at the commission to an immediate resolution.
We again urge the government to provide the needed resources that the commission needs for its work. We cannot afford to delay the impasse and inactivity at the EC any longer.