By: Akinmoyeje Precious
The 2023 Presidential elections are around the corner. To some (maybe most) people, the elections would turn out to be the usual – a contest to determine who the best cheat is. The prediction further goes on that the cycle of incompetence would continue, unchanged. However, for those optimistic about a functional country, the next generation would usher a new era. This generation would devise a reparative blue print; a masterpiece, brilliant enough to correct the dysfunctional structures that plague the country.
If there is anything that could be considered a litmus test of how much of a good blueprint the new generation – our generation – could devise, the UISU elections should be it. UI is after all the most revered federal institution in the country at the moment. For the sake of reiteration, here are a few relevant facts from before, during and after the election:
- The University electoral commission lifted the ban on the 13th of September 2021
- As of Friday 7th of October 2021 – a day prior to the election – a total of 8,931 people were accredited by the UI electoral commission.
- On Saturday, 8th of October 2021, the students of the University of Ibadan decided which new set individuals would occupy the administrative corridors at the Kunle Adepeju building.
- A total number of 3,532 (approximately 40% of the accredited voters) students were able to vote throughout the specified time frame for the elections.
These are not just facts and numbers; they are a veil that covers a lot of stories and unanswered questions. This article is an analysis of some of the happenings during the UI student union election. It goes on to identify some of the red flags, point out the important rhetorical questions that should lighten up the path ahead for subsequent elections.
Red Flags: The Various Issues And Controversies Of The 2021 UISU Elections
It is true that no man-made system is flawless; there is always a loophole to explore, no matter the amount of effort that has gone into designing that system. Maybe a flawless election is too idealistic. However, and as a sign of progress, the 2021 UISU elections should be better when compared to the previous one. A look into how things turned out during the elections screams otherwise. The actions of students – irrespective of which side of the political divide they fall – and the lapses of the electoral commission raised a lot of red flags. Let us see a few of the very big flags that were raised during the electoral process.
Note: Some of these posed significant threats to the franchise of the students. Some students were unable to vote as a result of these red flags.
E-Voting Platform: Response Time Issues And Other Inconsistecies
Throughout the day of the election, the E-voting platform was not really at its best in responding to the load of voters willing to cast their votes. At many point in time, voters could not vote because the site refused to load up. At around 5:30pm, Ezekiel, a resident of Bello hall told the Indy Press correspondent that he got tired when the website would not respond. According to him, “This site has been stuck here since I have been trying it, at this point, I am just tired”. Another student, Amarachi, a 400 level student from the Queen Elizabeth II hall said, “I have been trying to use the site since 10am and this is almost 3. If it does not go through from here, I will just drop it and assume someone is trying to rig”.
Furthermore, and still on the website, a couple of students were forced to make the decision of choosing a presidential candidate irrespective of their choice to stay undecided. An Indy Press correspondent for instance, tried to vote three times – of course with the intent of leaving the presidential space vacant – but was denied. A couple of hours later that day, some stakeholders at the Indy makeshift polling unit called our attention to similar issues. Kelechi Opara, a former legislator in the hall, called us – Indy press correspondents – to notice on a similar issue on the website. He – along with the others – further stated that the website slows when a Katangite attempts to vote Mascot instead of Richard.
Finally, some students complained bitterly about getting their voting details way too late and not getting it at all. Some of these complaints are summed up in the news reports gathered by the UCJUI correspondents on the Election Day.
Observing from the technical angle, one would assume a thing; the website could not handle the traffic on it – the typical UI situation. If these inconsistencies are due to this reason, it would be ironic to the preparation of the electoral commission. If all these could happen for about 40% of the voters’ population (an even lesser percentage of the whole UI student populace, what would happen if every student decides to actively participate?)
Makeshift Polling Units And The Devils Exchange
As early as around 10am on Saturday, a couple of Indy Hall stakeholders gathered around with devices to form a makeshift polling booth. This action is in response to the lag in response time and the backend failure experienced on the E-voting platform. On the surface, this looks like a utilitarian move – you know, a group of concerned individuals trying to see to the success of the election.
However, the reverse is the case. As a matter of curiosity, we spoke to a few people that were around the polling units to grasp what was happening. Femi, a 200 level Indy hall residents said, “Guy, wetin you expect, they no fit help you vote for free now, those guys dey look who you want vote for maybe na their candidate, normal normal now”. David, also a 200 level resident of the hall stated that they did not directly tell him to do it, but all their actions were suggestive. “I was not surprised” he said, “I mean, what other reason could be behind getting help from politicians, the game is the game”.
The same incident was witnessed at Zik Hall. As at the time of observation, no visible makeshift polling unit was in sight. However, a set of Zik hall stakeholders stood to stop guys by the road and cajole them to vote their candidates. Habeeb, a 300 level resident of the Hall said “It is what they do here and in other halls now, they stop people and tell persuade them to vote for specific people, so na everybody be thief” Alao, a 300l student of Indy Hall that happened to pass by also mentioned that he was stopped at Zik to vote for their candidate, but he had not yet received his login details.
In what looked like a similar occurrence, a video of a set of students engaging in voting exercises surfaced at the later hours of the afternoon. These individuals were in the middle of what looked like a mass voting exercises. When the Kuti hall chairperson – who happened to be identified in the video – spoke to a UCJUI correspondent, he denied the existence of any actions of electoral malpractice.
These Questions Need Answers
All the red flags above indicate that the election was not the fairest. Although, the results have been decided and announced, some questions still linger in the air. Some of these questions – if answered by the stakeholders concerned – could pave way for a less turbulent electoral process in subsequent years.
- Why did we have just 8000 accredited voters out of the student population of the University? What has happened to political consciousness and participatory politics?
- Only an approximate of 40% of the total number of accredited individuals was able to vote. The underlining factors for this low turn-out would be partly because of the inconsistencies of the E-voting platform. What does the electoral commission plan to do to avoid this same mistake? Would it just be left until the next set of people take up the mantle?
- The politicians resorted took advantage of the vulnerability in the voting system, is there a way to curb this in subsequent elections?
- What efforts would be taken to reduce campaign on Election Day to the barest minimum? Is it a disciplinary action? What specific thing would it be?
- Are there any active efforts going into finding out what happened at KUTI? How would the recurrence of such be prevented?
A lot of times, active voices in the student populace throw criticisms at the school management and the Federal government for underhandedness. However, if all these issues could arise from a mere student union election, what ethical high ground do we have to castigate the leaders? Change begins from the inside. If the youths are serious about having a functioning system, we should strive towards exemplification. Aluta Continua.