INEC, Jos crises and challenge of voter registration

Date: 28-01-2011 5:39 pm (13 years ago) | Author: Teeco Designer
- at 28-01-2011 05:39 PM (13 years ago)
The voter registration exercise critical to this year’s general elections in Nigeria is going on in peacefully in every part of the country, except in Plateau State, where an ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was brutally murdered at Tina Junction in the Jos Jarawa Ward of Jos North Local Government of Plateau State at the commencement of the exercise.

Clearly, as a result of the peculiar problem of the state, faced with seemingly endless communal crises, some eligible voters in Jos North Local Government Area will be disenfranchised. What can the INEC do to avoid this happening?

Plateau State and Jos North Local Government Area in particular has been in the news for bad reasons since 2001. On the 24th day of December, 2010, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State was in the news again as a result of bomb blasts and indiscriminate shootings in three locations that claimed many lives. The reason for all these mess is simply the unresolved crises that has raged for more than 40 years. As a result:

• The whole of Jos North town is now polarized along sectarian Christian/Muslim divide, meaning that some areas are not easily accessible to Muslims and vice versa.

• People have been forced to relocate from one area to another for safety. These are the displaced persons who are currently residing in some areas including areas outside Plateau State as internally displaced person.

With this unfortunate polarization, eligible voters in mixed ward voter registration centres stand the risk of being disenfranchised. For example, in Jos Jarawa ward of Jos North Local Government Area, the traditional ward collection centre is known to be the centrally located Baptist Primary School Nassarawa Gwom. It has been so before the 1999 elections. In this ward, there are both Muslim and Christian prospective and eligible voters. Because of the crises, this traditional centre was moved from Baptist Primary School to another place called St. Philips, which is more accessible to Christians than to Muslims. Why and how the change was effected and who by is still a mystery; INEC has offered no explanation either. That could explain why some Muslim ad-hoc staff members of INEC were attacked; one was killed when they went to the new collection centre at St. Philips to collect Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines meant for other registration Units where Muslims are predominant within the same ward.

Unless remedial measures are taken by INEC, many eligible voters will not be able to register in their areas, particularly where such ward Voter Registration centres/polling units are mixed and are not positioned in neutral places that can be safe for both Muslims and Christians. No eligible voter in Jos North will venture out to an area that is unsafe for him for the purpose of getting registered as a voter. The issue now at stake is what is the fate of people in wards like Jos Jarawa where you have some mixed registration units? Also what happens in areas like Ali Kazaure and Sarkin Arab wards etc where you have units with mixed population? Definitely, both Muslims and Christians who are eligible to vote will no doubt find it difficult to go to units where their respective religious groups are not in the majority for safety reasons. Any group that is in the majority in such areas will no doubt take advantage of the situation at the expense of other groups. This is a big challenge for INEC particularly now that the general election is approaching.

The status of internally displaced persons

Also, INEC needs to address the problems of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Plateau State, who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the crises. Example are people from villages like Kuru Karama, Mararraban Foron, Vom, etc, who are currently residing in some areas of Bauchi State as internally displaced persons. To my knowledge, INEC has not made any arrangement for the registration of these IDPs, which number more than 20,000 and are bona fide citizens of Plateau State. Unless something is done to address this, these people will no doubt be disenfranchised through no fault of theirs.

New settlements

As a result of mass relocations to “safe areas”, new settlements have sprung up within Jos, such as New Jerusalem in Tudun Wada, Filin Sukuwa, Zinariya, etc, all in Jos North Local Government Area. People have built new houses in these areas, which are already densely populated and are without registration/polling units. INEC has advised citizens to register close to their houses as there will be restriction of movements during the general election. Where are these people going to be registered? The INEC should take note of these developments and hasten to address them in the interest of free and fair elections in Nigeria.

Credible elections and Plateau State

From the foregoing, it would be safe to conclude that the credibility of the 2011 elections, particularly in Jos North Local Government Area, would be in doubt considering that as a result of the series of crises in Jos North Local Government Area, mutual suspicion exists between Muslims and Christians. These problems are not easy for INEC to solve within a short timeframe. In fact, it is not even within its purview. To avoid the any likelihood of conflict, the Commission should identify neutral venues for the elections in mixed areas so that we have a very peaceful election in 2011, and no one would feel disenfranchised.

Posted: at 28-01-2011 05:39 PM (13 years ago) | Addicted Hero
- JzeeWiz at 28-01-2011 05:48 PM (13 years ago)
These guys in jos are really calibans.All that they can do best is to kill.Nonsense
Posted: at 28-01-2011 05:48 PM (13 years ago) | Upcoming