We seem to have accepted conducting one election several times as a way of life. Once an election is concluded, the contest moves to the courts and back again to polling stations. Political campaigns no longer end, and nobody cares about the costs. That’s why, for instance, the APC governorship candidate for Akwa Ibom State in this year’s polls, Mr Umana Umana, has asked the appeal court to cancel the elections held on April 11 in all of 31 local government areas of the state. The state elections tribunal had ordered a rerun in 18 LGAs. But both the APC candidate and the PDP candidate (incumbent governor Udom Emmanuel) appealed the verdict.
The public treasury has continued to bleed from several reruns, but no one seems to be counting the cost. The rerun in 91 polling units conducted in Kogi State must have cost the nation at least N100million. I’m sure it costs at least N2billion to conduct an election in one state. Like Rivers, like Akwa Ibom! Now, the courts have ordered reruns in several senatorial districts across the country.
One puzzle is that nobody has been punished for making the nation lose money to inconclusive elections. INEC set a spending limit for campaigns; people spend 100 times more. Where are the thugs caught in 2011 or 2007? INEC promised to prosecute them. Where are all the murderers reported in Bayelsa or Rivers or Kano? Where are the INEC officials caught with their fingers in the pie?
Nigeria has been sentenced to perpetual electioneering: no year passes without a governorship election preceded by campaigns. Of course, we know the cause: inconclusive polls or fraudulent polls. That’s why Bayelsa and Kogi have just voted or are still voting, nine months after their counterparts did. Edo will go to the polls next year, and Ondo will follow. These say nothing of the several reruns ordered by the appeal court. Has electioneering become a human right also? Perhaps that’s why, even in these lean times, nobody considers the cost of organising elections every now and then.
Every election ought to be concluded and the winner declared. What the court did in Taraba is far better than having reruns in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and parts of several other states. Otherwise, anybody whose acts of omission or commission led to an inconclusive poll should pick the bills for conducting another one. We should abhor waste.