Nigeria’s shamble elections : Wake up call for Sierra Leone

The shambles of an election just completed in Nigeria should serve as a wake-up call for all advocates of democracy in Sierra Leone. With our elections only three months to go , what has happened in Nigeria should bear salient lessons for Sierra Leone  , in view of the fact that whatever obtains in one  African state has the tendency of recurring in others.Political scientists have long theorized that cataclysmic events are contagious. They have a tendency of spilling over  to other countries. This has been the case with military coups and bungled elections. Thus, if anyone thinks that our elections cannot go the Nigerian way, they are mistaken.
The lesson Sierra Leone  must learn from this catastrophic Nigerian election is that we must never take anything for granted. Unless a miracle happens, nothing will stop Alhaji Yar’adua from ascending the throne in Nigeria, once he has been declared winner by the country’s Electoral Commission. Legal battles will arise but in the final anaysis, incumbency will prevail again. Once an election has been rigged, that’s it. There is nothing else anyone can do about it. The solution is to stop it from being rigged  in the first place , and this is our dilemma presently.
 Once an election has been stolen, the international observers  will conclude that though there were irregularities but  they were not significant to influence the results. Even where they reach a conclusion that the rigging significantly affected the results, they lack the power to change the results. As for stakeholders, they  will continue issuing their threats about sanctions  , but how many of these threats have we  not heard before ? If Yar’adua is not the choice of the people and he also becomes a mere statistic, Nigerians are going to be saddled with him for 5 years to the detriment of the nation.
This must not be allowed to recur in Sierra Leone. All those thrust with the responsibility of ensuring that the elections are free and fair should not rest on their oars. They have to continue pushing for compliance to  all the structures that have been  put in place, if at all,  to make sure that there is no rigging.
Our main concern is that this particular election in Sierra Leone on July 28, 2007 should be free and fair. These are landmark elections that will impact on the progress of the nation for years to come .Sierra Leone is ripe for a change.She needs need blood and fresh minds to tackle the serious problems that lay ahead. But change cannot come from bungled elections.
 The people of Sierra Leone want to have a say in who become their leaders next.They have been disappointed by their politicians and leaders and want to ensure that this time they place people in power  who  will ring  in the desired changes at last. .
We are desperate for change in Sierra Leone –Desirable and worthy change that will ensure socio-economic and political renaissance. And this cannot be achieved with General Elections that are a charade of democracy. We hope everybody will learn from the Nigerian experience and take nothing for granted. The elections must be free and fair and we, the Sierra Leoneans,  have the onus to ensure that. We must all be watchdogs and ensure that no rigging is done.

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