A political scientist, Dr. ‘Gbade Ojo has called on the Nigerian government to take a cue from South Africa’s voting system as a way of having an all-encompassing electoral system in the country.
Ojo made the call after his visit to South Africa during which he monitored the country’s municipal elections which took place on August 11, 2016.
The don said his visit to South Africa was borne out of curiosity to see how both the whites and blacks co-habit since the collapse of the apartheid policy of the country.
Relieving his experience in South Africa as a teacher of Comparative Politics, Dr. Ojo noted that two things struck his mind about the country’s electoral election which was held on a Wednesday, though with public holiday declared with no restriction of movement (unlike the usual norm in Nigeria) and that voting hours was between 7.00am and 7.00pm.
“Nonetheless, South Africa’s federal system exhibited glaring variations from Nigeria’s federal structure. First, local government election took place in all the provinces and municipals simultaneously across the country. Secondly, local governments in Nigeria are not perceived as ‘locale’ of power because they are far away to autonomy as a tier of government.”
In his comparative analysis of both countries electoral systems, Ojo opined: “The 1999 Constitution as amended made them an appendage of state governments; completely under legal supervision by the state Houses of Assembly, adding that no doubt, the South African model actually made the third tier to be a training ground for democracy.
“One other juxtaposition that worth noting is that of tenure; while, the life span of elected local government functionaries in Nigeria is three years they govern for five years in South Africa.”
According to Ojo, an Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Ilorin, the beauty of the South Africa’s electoral system was that it reduces both cost and frequency of elections at the municipal level.
“A unique feature of the local election and peradventure the electoral law in South Africa is provision for special voters. The law allows those that apply for special consideration to vote before the actual voting day. This was two days before the D-day.”
“They were the aged and physically challenged including those that may have genuine reasons not to be available on voting day,” pointing out that Nigeria’s electoral law and system did not make any provision for special cases of such.
He added: “Both the aged and people with disabilities compete for space and attention here. It is amusing that most of our public buildings do not take into consideration the plight of the disables.”
“In essence, it may be expedient to take a dim view of local government creation in Nigeria. With population growth, it is better to expand the space for grassroots development. The United States of America that we ape as a model of both democratic and federal state, there are well over 10,000 local government areas that take care of municipal governments.”
“The uniqueness with the South African system which is cost saving is the fact that voters do not need voters’ card which was even non-existent. To vote, all potential voters signify their intention by registering to vote before the election.”
“What you require on the D-day is the National identity card or International passport. More so that the name was already on the voters register; the voter must have also signified which province he/she intends to vote,” the don explained.
Dr. Ojo lauded the commendable rate of women participation in South African politics and electoral system as compared with other African nations.
“South Africa is endowed with national wealth as well as well-developed infrastructure, its relative technological advancement could allow its people to pursue and live a comfortable economic life,” he said.
The don who took interest in the media coverage of the elections, said both print and electronics were objective in announcing results which trickled in before the official announcements were made by IEC on Saturday August 6, adding that there was no discrepancy between the officially announced results and the ones the media had earlier announced.