• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Between the US and Nigeria’s elections

Between the US and Nigeria’s elections

The primus inter pares (first among equals) status of the United States of America (USA) among the comity of nations which pride themselves as the proponents and bastions of modern constitutional democracy was not achieved on a silver platter. The US indeed underwent some turbulent flows in their democratic transformations. It is a forward-looking thought to continually juxtapose Nigeria’s democratic practices with the USA.

In assessing, the US long and epic journey from crude democratic practices to the current cherished and developed democratic system must be considered. As the modern-day democracy was fundamentally embedded in periodic elections, the trajectory of the electioneering process in the US at the early stage of her political independence was marred with electoral irregularities, ballot snatching, voters’ suppression, widespread mayhem and vote buying.

The most controversial electoral fraud in the US political history was the 1876 presidential election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden. The election was pervaded with the campaign of calumny, disenfranchisement of political opponents through intimidation at both candidates’ strongholds and the alteration of electoral results. The election almost tore the nation apart as both presidential candidates lay claim to victory. Besides the prevalence of electoral fraud, there was no clear-cut legal and institutional framework to determine the winner.

Despite the political conundrum, the US overcame the internal menace without any foreign intervention. The Electoral Commission Act, 1877, was specifically enacted to resolve the 1876 electoral crisis. The Act provided a 15-member Electoral Commission to arbitrate the disputed result. The pronouncement of the Electoral Commission alongside some political negotiations eventually ended the electoral impasse as Birchard Hayes was declared the actual winner of the US 1876 presidential election.

The US has continued to reform her electoral system ranging from the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887, recently amended as the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, 2022, the Voting Rights Act (VRA), 1965, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), 2002, amongst other electoral legislative reforms. The United Kingdom (UK) which introduced democracy into Nigeria was not left out in this electoral fraud. The attempt to curb the menace prompted the enactment of the 1872 Ballot Act and the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act,1883.

In the present day, the electoral fraud in the US has been reduced to the barest minimum. It took the nation many decades of electoral reforms before they achieved the current illustrious electoral status. Though Nigeria still lags behind in comparison to the US electoral standard, the pace of electoral development in Nigeria is more rapid. More than a hundred year after the US had gained her political independence, the likes of Isaiah Rynders, John Kelly, amongst other notorious rogues violently engaged in ballot snatching, voters’ intimidation and disruption of opposition political meetings. Many elections also recorded cases where the registered voters’ names were found on tombstones.

Having shed light to the electoral antecedents of the US, it is pertinent for Nigeria to emulate the US by resolving her electoral obstacles internally and democratically. Every nation whose emotional outbursts of her people had prompted to embrace a direct foreign intervention into their polity has lived to regret their actions. Uninterrupted democratic system has just lasted for 24 years in Nigeria since the country attained political independence in 1960. Between 1999 and 2023, Nigeria has undergone numerous impactful electoral reforms. The continuous overhaul of Nigeria’s electoral institution and laws could only guarantee her the typical US electoral standard.

Read also: Chimamanda Adichie writes Biden, outlines how Nigeria’s election was manipulated

The radical departure from the era of manual electoral processes to the digital system coupled with the enactment of the Electoral Act, 2022, have set Nigeria’s path to achieving electoral accuracy, transparency and credibility. The digital processes which range from the Electronic Voter Register (EVC), the Smart Card Reader (SCR), the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), and now the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the IReV portal, are all giant strides to achieve and sustain electoral integrity.

Nigeria’s electoral system has evolved though it is not free of infractions. Gone are the days when it was almost impossible to unseat a sitting president, states’ governors, national and states’ lawmakers and their adopted candidates.

The political reality and electoral signal from the just concluded elections have shown otherwise. It would be unfair to describe the entire 2023 general elections as sham. Any candidate who has sufficient evidence to disprove the electoral results should seek redress in court rather than resorting to extra-judicial measures. The judiciary remains a democratic institution to right the wrongs.