Last time I checked, the conduct of the awaited rerun election in Imo-North senatorial district coupled with a few state assembly polls in the state was long overdue that even those who fully understand the language of patience had become pessimistic. It is pertinent to acknowledge that some other states like Anambra among others are currently passing through similar fate.
It is even more worrisome that the 90-day ultimatum issued by the the Supreme Court regarding the said senatorial election likewise that issued against the awaited state assembly polls by the Appeal Court has elapsed. And pathetically, the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as the electoral Acts seems to be silent on the appropriate action to be taken in a situation like this. This indicates that the constitution is due for amendment.
The aforementioned elections were scheduled to hold on Saturday 20th of February 2016 but were cancelled by the electoral umpire barely twenty-four hours to the polls. Until this very moment, I am still finding it very difficult to know what went wrong.
My greatest concern remains that the polls were postponed indefinitely and no fresh date has been fixed for its conduct. It is to say the least, a thing of worry that the affected legislative seats are presently vacant in the concerned jurisdictions including the Senate and the Imo State House of Assembly. This significantly implies that the people of Imo-North Senatorial Zone alongside those of Oru-East State Constituency among others – which is one of the constituencies affected at the state level, don’t currently have a representative at the Senate and the Imo House of Assembly respectively.
We are not unaware of the socio-political and economic implications of the lapse. Such loophole indicates that presently the electorates of the affected senatorial district or state constituencies do not have someone to speak on their behalf in the previously mentioned legislative councils. This undoubtedly means that this set of persons are being shortchanged.
Universally, democracy is for all concerned, thus no one or group of people must be ruled out. Some persons cannot be enjoying the good side of governance while a few others act like observers. Such phenomenon, which is an act of humiliation, is constitutionally wrong. Obviously, everyone or group deserves a fair treatment in any democratic setting.
The above assertion remains the reason it is generally believed that no matter how bad a democracy is, it can never be compared to an autocracy. Now, the Nigeria’s democratic setting is characterised by a change mantra; suffice it to say that every citizen of the country is clamouring for change. Such clamour requires the effort of all Nigerians towards its actualisation, thus a situation where some groups are yet to boast of a federal/state legislator or representative does not augur well with the anticipation.
I am baffled that the individuals who are negatively affected by this scenario are seemingly docile. I am yet to hear of protest against the INEC as well as the National Assembly or Imo Assembly. Though we have heard that the Senate had mandated INECto fill the vacant positions in the said chamber, but more efforts are still needed. You cannot be subjected to agony and choose to remain silent. One of the most paramount moments in one’s life is acknowledging when he/she is being shortchanged.
Notwithstanding, two respected personalities in the country in the persons of Chief Athan Achonu of the PDP and Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu of the APC happen to be the most influential contenders in the long awaited polls. Of course, the latter that has served, as a Speaker of Imo House of Assembly understands what a day off in the legislative business is liable to cause.
The people of Oru East LGA of Imo State coupled with other state constituencies whose absence are currently felt in the Imo Assembly are also not left out regarding doing the needful with a view to ensuring that the ongoing humiliation becomes a thing of the past in a few days time.
The electoral umpire (INEC) must do something very fast toward fixing a tangible and reliable date for the awaited polls, not just in Imo State but in other affected state across the federation. They are expected to remain independent as their name implies, patriotic, resolute, genuine and most importantly unbiased, regardless of the circumstance. Someone ought to tell them that this unsolicited delay is seriously getting out of hand. Or, if I may ask; what are they really up to? Think about it!
Comr Fred Doc Nwaozor is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri