This is Nigeria

This is Nigeria

The Nigerian society, like many others, conflates the political sphere, and its revolving casts and incredulous plots, with actual governance. This column contrasts the vast stories of politics with the hard truths of governance to give a sense of how Nigeria can be great again.

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Don't blame INEC: It is designed to fail

A F Adekaiyaoja

A F Adekaiyaoja

Interested in the intersection between politicking and governance in Nigeria.

Right now, Nigerians are bashing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after the postponement of the elections threw many weddings in flux, already late plane flights in disarray, and affected an education already mired in crisis. And, above all, Nigerians have to deal with one more week where governance takes a back seat. The country has already endured a long pause, and it is only going to become more costly and unhelpful. 

Indeed, there is little justification in a decision to postpone at the eleventh hour, but it would be worth sparing a thought for INEC, an organisation designed to fail. 

It is true that INEC literally has one job—which they failed to do on time—but several institutional features mean that we do not have a genuinely independent electoral body. This goes beyond the recent postponement and speaks to the root of the organisation's capability and feasibility, and until these issues are addressed, Nigeria will keep getting the elections it deserves. 

In a piece on electoral management in Nigeria, J Shola Omotola touches on three key issues that affect the perceived independence of our electoral management body. For starters, the Constitution gives the right to appoint a Chair to the President after consultation with the Council of State. Although the approval of the Council of State provides some checks and balances, the sensitive nature of the appointment in a nascent democracy like Nigeria’s leaves room for impropriety. In Ghana, these positions are appointed to a term comparable to their Appeal Court Justices (which gives a mandatory retirement age), reducing the incentive to endear oneself to the appointer (the president).

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