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26.04.2007 General News

Cheating Is UnAfrican

The Nigerian elections are now history. Once a winner has been declared, only the courts of law could determine otherwise. But the courts cannot do anything unless the matter is brought before them for determination.

It is our hope and prayer that all parties in the election will resort to the due process of the law to determine the next course of action. We would want to counsel against any unilateralism or impunity.

In the same way, we would also caution against those who are trying to rationalise and justify the lapses because they happened in Africa or in a developing country.

There are many who have argued that whatever the flaws which undermined the elections, they must be assessed within the African context and the constraints of resources.

Such comments may have encouraged President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose conduct, negatively or positively, affected the process, to openly admit that indeed there were flaws.

He, however, defended the process and stated that no election in the world will ever be regarded as perfect and that “we cannot use European standards to judge the situation in a developing country.”

It is ironic that the Nigerians and French exercised their franchise around the same time, but there were no deaths associated with the polls in France as against the election-related deaths in Nigeria.

Whereas it is true that Europe is technologically and scientifically advanced, such that the processes of voting, counting and the declaration of results could be more efficient, any argument that the measurement of fraud or cheating should not be stringent in Africa flies in the face.

Indeed, in terms of morality and attachment to positive human behaviour and attitude, Africa is far ahead of Europe. Therefore, where there is widespread fraud and cheating, that is more un-African and reprehensible on our continent than in Europe.

It would be unfortunate and shameful for any true African to suggest that fraud is an acceptable or tolerable social conduct. We have to condemn any electoral fraud, especially one that relies on thuggery and elimination of all forms of opposition, in the strongest of terms, just like armed robbery, murder and corruption.

It is most unfortunate that Nigeria's first attempt at a peaceful transition from one elected government to another after the full tenure, has been dogged by electoral malpractices and the unjustified loss of human lives.

The security personnel who have been deployed to maintain law and order need to be reminded that they have a common destiny and they must, therefore, discharge their duties with firmness and fairness but with a human face.

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