NIGERIANSin South Africa, yesterday, scored the conduct of the parliamentary elections back home high, saying early results even indicated a new path in the nation’s democracy.
Mr. Gbenga Odusanya, the General Manager (Africa), Hay Group, based in Johannesburg, told the Southern Africa correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the conduct of the polls showed that Nigeria seemed to have put the days of election rigging behind them.
He said: “We seem to be entering a new phase and politicians will begin to come to terms that the days of rigging elections in Nigeria are being done away with. It is a hard pill for them to swallow but that is what the conduct of the parliamentary elections points to.”
Odusanya said that INEC’s adoption of the Modified Option A4 voting method showed it was determined to ensure transparency and “this seems to be paying off”.
He said the electoral commission’s initial problem which caused the postponement of the polls was due to the fact that it did not test-run the system, which “is the normal thing for any new system”.
Odusanya, however, said the parliamentary elections would serve as a test-run for the presidential election, adding that he did not envisage much problems during its conduct.
He also lauded the electorate, saying their voting pattern showed signs of maturity as the former pattern of voting was faulty.
“It seems the electorate have shown some maturity. There is no given pattern of votes and it looks like it is the candidate or party that can canvass for people’s votes that is likely to get them.
“Early results showed that there is no given path or birthright like before,” he said.
Prof. Vincent Nmehielle, the Head of the WITS Programme in Law, Justice and Development in Africa School, at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, also commended INEC on the conduct of the elections.
“From what we read, it seems to have been largely peaceful even though marred by one or two events,” he said.
“I will, however, want to wait for full results and all elections before scoring them but it seems it will be something Nigerians will be proud of.”
Nmehielle urged INEC not to rest on its oars as some desperate people might want to thwart the system during the next elections.
He said the turnout of people was impressive, adding that the postponement was justified.
“I know Jega (INEC chairman) very well personally as a very careful person and I think the postponement has been justified,” he said.
The lecturer also spoke on the early results, saying they showed a mix that would lead to great debates, checks and balances in the system.
Mr Olalekan Olaitan, an educator with the Eastern Cape Education Department, said Prof. Attahiru Jega scored high marks in the conduct of the elections and that Nigerians, by their turnout, showed they were ready to choose their own leaders.
“It shows Nigerians are waking up and determined to choose their leaders,” he said, noting that the nation seemed to be on the right path of making the votes of the people to count.
He charged INEC to sustain it in the remaining elections, saying the results in the parliamentary elections would prompt even a higher turnout in next elections as those who were sceptical would now be inspired.
Olaitan urged those involved in bombings to shun such acts and resort to the ballot box since the elections were being conducted better and votes were likely to count.
“I pray God will give us the right leaders at all levels this time and those of us in the Diaspora can also come home to play our part,” he said.
Mr Austin Okeke, a lawyer based in Johannesburg, said the parliamentary elections should be seen as a pilot project which should be allowed to mature.
“It is the first (in the three-legged elections) and I believe it will be better next time,” he said.
Okeke said that early results gave an indication that Nigerians now had choices.
“Democracy is maturing and people seem to want fresh blood in the system,” he said.
Mr Ken Ayere, the President of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (South Africa), said the elections were rated high except for the reported pockets of violence in some parts of the country.
He lauded the voters for coming out in large numbers, saying “Nigeria is on the path to credible elections.”