Local government elections across Nigeria have been described as nothing short of organized crime.
Making this assertion, while featuring on a Channels Television programme, Politics Today, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, said that the kind of people who come into politics sometime determine the outcome of an election, while alleging that interference at the grassroots affect the conduct of elections.
He said, “Look at the local government system in Nigeria. We have lost 774 local governments in Nigeria to every sitting governor of the 36 states in Nigeria.
“Local government elections are nothing but organised crime. They should not be calling them elections at all. They are nothing but coronation ceremony that we have across Nigeria and Nigerians are not doing anything about it; that you have lost your local government; that there is no democracy taking place there.
“Because what constitutes free, fair and credible elections with respect to INEC-conducted election is different from the local government.”
Insisting that INEC has made remarkable progress in the conduct of elections, even though it is not where it ought to be, the REC said that the use of public viewing portal, used during the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states removed possible electoral fraud, as Nigerians saw the results of each polling unit online almost immediately after casting their votes.
He added, “I can confirm that INEC has made tremendous progress. The INEC of today is no longer the INEC of before, because, since 2011, the kind of elections that we have conducted had a remarkable departure from where we used to be, even though we are not where we are supposed to be.
“The INEC public viewing portal is a new innovation to deal with the recurring issues of vote changes and that was why it was introduced at the level of collation to ensure that at the polling unit, once result is declared it should be sent to the viewing portal so that Nigerans can see it.
“The way we are going..I am very sure, not too far from now, it is INEC that will have to declare results, we will publicise result…that is, where we could do what the CNN do in America by making progressions. That is where we are going.”
Describing the political elite as the greatest threat to Nigeria’s democracy, Igini said that politics is now “the biggest business in Nigeria,”adding, “The problem we are having is that the political elite are the greatest threat to our democracy; they are in disarray. They are the ones attacking both the hardware and software of INEC, in order to bring about credible election.
“They deploy violence to win elections. Politics is now the biggest business in Nigeria, everybody wants to go into politics, because the incentives are so high and the political parties have failed to mobilise people around issues that matter and the fact that what you take home as a politician is so high and people are now desperate, meanwhile, it is supposed to be about service. We have to do something about it.”