By Lateef Adeegbite
In spite of the All Progressive Congress, APC, dominated National Assembly to force Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to use the Electronic Voting system in the conduct of the February 18, 2023, general elections, in the country, they may not have been able to cage Nasir El-Rufai, a former, minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during the Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration and now, governor of Kaduna state.
El-Rufai may have found the Electronic voting system used in his first term in office to conduct the 2021, Local government elections in the state as the best option because of its transparency and devoid of cases of hijacking electoral materials by party thugs. The Kaduna state governor and the security agencies Chiefs in the south west state may have prepared well in advance for the election which he has intended to use to test the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, popularity in the state to prove a point that APC is still a party to beat to beat in the state. Perhaps, to ensure that there would be no accusations and counter accusation of rigging by the parties, particular, the PDP, he has made Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, to deploy more policemen to the state to compliment the state Police Command officers in providing security to the SEC, officials and party agents at the polling units.
He may have made the Council elections appear like a national election across the 19, Local government Areas in the state where the election took place because of the tight security provided at the polling units as there was no room for thugs to hijack the electronic machines in any of the Local governments or attack any SEC official or party agent.
There was the initial fear that the APC, would lose woefully in the election because of bad records in the state. Moreso, he may not have read the hand writing on the wall that lots of water have passed underground between 2018 and now, which may have exposed the party poor performance over the last six years in government, thus giving room to the Opposition, PDP, to penetrate , the ruling APC strongholds in the state.
The PDP leadership may have taken advantage of the governor’s frosty relationship with the civil servants, over the planned to sack 400 of them and hiring of another 10,000 staff, comprising mostly of teachers, Medical Doctors, Nurses and other qualified staff who would provide vital services, to boost of beating the APC, in the Local government elections.
Recall that El-Rufai, may have played into the hands of the PDP loyalties when he came up with the’’right sizing’’, policy, that which had turned out to be unpopular amongst the people. He has h reason for doing so. This is because of the dwindling monthly Allocations that is accruing to the state government from the Federation Account and its weak Internally Revenue generation IGR, sources which is enough to keep a large work force, bloated Political Appointees and still provide basic Infrastructural facilities for the people.
Note that the Internally revenue generating sources of the state may have grown worse due to the activities of Bandits which had forced many Local Companies to close down , while the few that are still functioning’’ were said to be working in bits and fits’’ for fear of being attacked or staff kidnapped for ransom.
True to El-Rufai’s word of reducing the number of his Political Appointees and the state work force, he ha fired 99 Political Appointees, which he had said constituted 30% of the political office holders, described as idle by Political Observers in the state but yet to disengage any civil servant.
Polical analyst believe that he may have put on the cooler the issue of releasing the sack letters of the civil servants that had been pensiled down for sack because of the scheduled Local government elections in the state to avoid having a back lash effect on the party.
The Opposition PDP, Leadership may have gotten the impression that the party would beat the ruling APC in the state because of the Ungwar Sarki polling unit result in Kaduna north Local government Area, where the governor had voted but the party lost both the Chairmanship and Councillorship to the PDP.
In announcing the result, Mohammed Sani, the Presiding officer had said that the APC,polled 62 votes in the Chairmanship election ,while the PDP, scored 86 votes ,out of the 159 votes cast in the El-Rufai polling unit. . He noted that in the Councillorship election, the PDP, polled 100 votes to APC’s 53 votes, out of the 162, votes, that was said to have been cast. The Opposition PDP, was said to have repeated the feat in the Chairmanship and Councillorship votes in several other Polling units in other Local governor Areas the state but that was how far it could go.
Many believe that the Bandits recent attack of the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, in Kaduna, with the alleged Collaboration of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, Boko Haram and The Islamic State of the West African Province, ISWAP, may have scared thousands of votes in different parts of the state from coming out to exercise their Franchise for fear of being killed or kidnapped. Worse still, was the alleged malfunctioning of some the electronic voting Machines in some of the Local government Areas which was said to have disrupted voting in some of the polling units.
Indeed, the Opposition PDP, hope of beating the ruling APC, in the just concluded Local government election in the state may have been short lived. As at Sunday, September 5, 2021, when the results of the Saturday, 4, 2021, Elections in the 19, out of the 23 , Local government Areas in the state , began to trickle in, the ruling APC, had won Sabo Gari Local government Area and seven other Councils , leaving the PDP to one, Kaura, Local government Area, which the APC, supporters had blamed on the malfunctioning of the voting machines for losing it.
An elated el-Rufai, may have told the party members blaming him for giving the state Electoral Commission the nod to adopt electronic voting system in the conduct of the elections that the party had done well after all, showing that it is on ground in the state, and remains a party to bat.
l. He has told those that cares to listen that ‘’the introduction of the electronic voting system by his Administration since 2018, to conduct, Local government elections in the state has clearly shown that ‘’the APC-led government does not believe in cheating or rigging elections’’.
In a related development Yakubu, led INEC, had released the time table for the conduct of the Ekiti, home state of Gabriel Olonisakin, a reired army General and former , Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, and Ambassador, designate to the Central Africa of Cameroon, governorship election, on June 18, 2022. Nigerians are looking forward to the INEC boss, adopting the Electronic voting system in the conduct of the election to give it more credibility and avoid rigging by the ruling APC and the Opposition PDP .
They noted that if El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, could audaciously allow the SEC, to use the electronic voting system in the conduct of the 2021, Local government elections in the state, with its limited resources, there is no basis why INEC, which has all the resources and thePresidential backing could not use the Electronic voting system in the conduct of the Ekiti governorship elections next year, to ensure credibilty.