By Adedapo Salmon
In the early hours of Thursday, September 15, 2022, Nigerians saw allegations that their country’s electoral body was compromised. It is not the first time the body’s integrity will be questioned, but these new allegations came with a threat, the threat to take over the commission’s office nationwide on 22nd September to note their grievances.
The takeover is tagged #OccupyINEC, a tag sampled from #OccupyNigeria, a socio-political protest movement that began in Nigeria on Monday, 2 January 2012 in response to the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan.
What led to #OccupyINEC on Nigerian Twitter?
INEC has announced that it will delist registrations that it had found invalid. The commission’s spokesman had said they detected double and multiple registrations in their database.
Following the announcement, a Twitter user (@PhaserPrime) alleged that their identity has been stolen and used to register an “old man”.
@PhaserPrime, “@inecnigeria is an evil organisation and we need to call these people out. I never finished my pvc registration yet here is my name with an old man’s face. Who knows how many identities they’ve stolen! Please guys let’s get this out there @SavvyRinu @Mochievous @DavidHundeyin”
The allegation generated uproar on social media, here are some reactions.
@Morris _Monye, “#OccupyINEC is 22nd of September 2022. The INEC Chairman should prepare to receive
Nigerians. We call on LP and all concerned parties even PDP to join this. It concerns all of us.”
@Kadunaresident, “On the day of the election we need to take out beds and sit down at our polling units, @inecnigeria needs to tell us how they intend to accredit fake voters with BVAS. They can’t say they don’t know. INEC is a scam #OccupyINEC”
@judithakatugba,”We cannot be guiled! I’m in full support of #occupyINEC to demand for clarity regarding the allegations in the public, total sanitisation of the system, rigid transparency and above all, prosecution of the corrupt INEC officials within the next 30 days. Enough is enough”
@IruefiNG, “The biggest protest Africa has ever seen will soon manifest. @inecnigeria you want to ruin our lives abi? Never again! My people let’s trend #occupyinec. We must let the world know that we do not trust INEC to conduct a free and fair election in Nigeria!”
@weyimi.”Fake names, fake DOB on the BVAS database. These people are so venomous. You said we are good at organizing rallies that have no impact right? No worries we will organize one at every INEC office #OccupyINEC”
@ChudeMedia • @inecnigeria is one of the most corrupt institutions in Nigeria. The establishment is never independent, they are there for the highest bidder but they will surely hear from the people this time! It is not business as usual! #OccupyINEC”
What should INEC do to regain the trust of the people?
A cursory look at the full meaning of INEC will indicate the importance of INDEPENDENCE for the electoral body to achieve its aim. The government must continue to protect the independence of the commission through more airtight laws, tenure security, and punitive measures for individuals or organizations who intend to compromise the body’s integrity.
TRANSPARENCY, there are regulations and laws put in place to ensure transparency. The commission must pursue and obey these laws to the last letter. Transparency will increase confidence in the commission.
Another strategy to be prioritized by the INEC is COMMUNICATION. When allegations and accusations are made, the commissions must react to this message quickly and meticulously. Trying to manoeuvre or avoid questioning will do nothing but increase people’s distrust of the body.
It is important to commend the Buhari-led administration and INEC for the enactment of the electoral act which has increased transparency and confidence in the body. However, INEC miiMust continue its good work to ensure and increase the people’s confidence in its work.