August 9, 2022 could have been a random day across the world; in faraway Kenya, it's a special day for over 50 million citizens to vote for a president who will steer the affairs of their country for the next 5 years.
The question of how President Uhuru Kenyatta's two terms in power had fare, or how his successor, Willam Ruto, would rule is not the crux of this piece; rather, the many lessons Nigeria should learn from the just-concluded election in the East African country.
Unlike in Nigeria, where citizens who live abroad are disenfranchised during election seasons, Kenyans who live outside Kenya were privileged to exercise their franchise. Not even Kenyans in places like prisons were denied the right to vote for their next president. This is commendable practice. The Nigerian Electoral Commission (INEC) should tap a cue from Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and initiate an effective "Diaspora Voting" into their electoral policies, so that Nigerians abroad, or at least in certain countries, can also participate in voting processes.
Moving forward, the hues and cries about election results being trampled on as a result of late or inaccurate results display appear to be becoming the norm during Nigerian elections.The Kenya IEBC, however, defied odds to bare election results to the public, live and immediately after votes were being cast. Even Kenyans in areas where there were no access to mobile phones were provided with satellite equipment for the transmission of results. An idea that has generated global applause. The Nigerian electoral body should take a hint from their peer in Kenya, and make fast and fair transmission of election results a standard. This, without doubt, will aid the process of fair and credible elections.
It is worthwhile to state that the commonly held mentality in Nigeria that online polls/strategies do not determine election results, or that new political parties do not stand a chance of winning elections, needs to be relegated. The elected President, William Ruto, had prior to the election won many online polls, and even with a new political party, the United Democratic Alliance, formed in 2020, William Ruto still managed to win the election. Although a Kenya literacy rate of 81% in 2018, compared to Nigeria's 62% in 2018, could be credited to his winning, as more Kenyans are informed and have access to the internet, and as such will be more rational in their choices of candidates.
To surmise, Nigerian youths who politicians use as agents of destabilization during elections should learn from the youths of Kenya who chose peace and participated fully in the elections; one was even seen in a viral video going to the polling unit without clothes, mainly because he had no clothes and could not give in to that as an excuse not to vote. Nigerian youths should learn from their fellow African youths and hence uphold wide political participation and peace during elections.
As the 2023 general election, being a critical election, draws closer, it behoves INEC and Nigerians to look closely at the lessons from the just concluded Kenya election and raise standards that can list Nigeria in the league of nations where free, fair, and credible elections are upheld.
Hashim Yussuf Amao writes from Ibadan