A Match Official Called INEC...Optical Illusion

Prince Charles Dickson pcdbooks@gmail.com pcdbooks@yahoo.com pcdbooks@hotmail.com Jos, Plateau Nigeria

The World Cup...soccer's prestigious tournament for the big boys has been underway in far away Germany, that we are not participating because we are so good is no news, but the news is that for once in a long time the referees have come under scrutiny for very questionable decisions...the referee of the tournament so far remains a certain Valentin Ivanov that gave out a record 16 yellow cards and 4 reds... she dished out cards like it was a meal of tuwo shinkafa with beef scattered everywhere in ewedu soup in typical Yoruba fashion. The referees have made an effort to justify their actions, some quite acceptable, while others I simply see as a function of optical illusion. Just as a player shoots a ball hundreds of meters away from the goal post, for no reason other than that is where he saw the goal post and the opposing team shouts 'more of that' or when a player tumbles under merely a touch and gets a penalty, on another occasion with a brutal tackle he hardly gets a nod from the referee.

It is in this same vein that referees have also been sometimes fooled by players who either dive or harshly dismiss players that have done little or nothing. In this terrain it is a game of the players, referee, and the fans The referee is the man at the center, he is supposed to be unbiased, but the World Cup produced different types, from the ones that disqualified good goals, to the one that handled the Brazil-Ghana match as if he was playing for Brazil. I do not think we will forget the referee that decided to gift Italy a ticket against the Aussies...referees how much can they be trusted, when can they differentiate optical illusion from reality, when do they not take sides, when do their actions smack of intimidation? For us the game is the General Elections, the man at the center, a certain Prof. Iwu, the players, from PDP, AC, DPP, AGPA, ANPP. And the poor fans, Nigerians off course that suffer the under-performance of any of the actors on the stage. The Nigerian World Cup comes up in form of a General Election come 2007, the stakes are high, the chief referee has said to give a free and fair match, he was willing to die...these days the number of leaders that are willing to die for this nation has not changed much. Strange, quite strange.

Can the PDP dependent Independent Electoral Commission be trusted, where FEDECO, NEC and NECON failed, can it be trusted to remedy what is remaining of the present crop of leadership, can it be trusted to do a yeoman's job like Dora did and is still doing with NAFDAC? As an official of the tournament can we trust its linesmen, the several resident electoral commissioners in States, can the body as presently constituted and unfunded be allowed to call the shots without being bullied by Uncle? Even as it has shown signs of legal confusion regarding the rules... How many goals will be cancelled, how many offside decisions would be correct, already we have seen a false start, shoddy preparations, injuries already to players before the start of the tourney, the ball boys (security operatives)...what role are they going to play...the teams, would there be complaints of bad weather, to the advantage of others. The INEC boss in the last month has been in a frenzy of media showing, shouting, talking loud, can he be trusted to disappoint Obasanjo and his PDP led failure to the delight of the masses. He has publicly cried of no funding from the appropriate quarters.... We knowingly create loopholes in the system, few weeks to a general election, the body supposedly responsible to conducting the election is cash strapped, so we will once more witness another shoddy arrangement with last minute rush, already we do not have any voters' card. One hopes we may not need days of national holiday like the census period.

To avoid an optical illusion it is necessary to ask now, who is INEC, as a referee responsible to, who pays the piper, will the body take actions with the interest of the game at heart, will it be impartial? The referee that handled the match between the Netherlands and Portugal accepted that it was the most difficult of his life, for INEC this will be the most difficult of matches, a PDP that wants to win at cost and is bent at making sure that the AC and co. remain the adventurers that Ali called them or paper Tigers as Madu'keke' called them. INEC could be trusted, yes they could be believed to deliver when called upon to do so, but the fact is that which INEC are we referring to here. The elections are almost here with us, but the bitter truth is that we are not ready, the defective electoral bill has been passed and we will use it, the commission that will conduct the elections do not have a modality on how it would go about providing the platform for a free and fair elections. The ad-hoc staff required would be brought in days to the election and will operate like zombie, not moving unless they are told to move...and the movement, I can assure us will be for someone's benefit.

Is it possible that we will have an INEC, Independent as a referee, have no trace of optical Illusion in order to foster public confidence and participation in the democratic process, the World Cup saw referees that brought disrepute to the game through their conduct of matches and their actions have smacked of nothing less than an optical Illusion...If INEC is to be trusted, they should be made to know that the 2007 elections will be a test case to see if we can as a nation promote integrity, involvement, and effectiveness in the democratic process. Can the commission copy successful examples from elsewhere not the noise of e-voting and all the Es. The hallmark of a successful match, elections without optical Illusion is one that has the right balance of integrity, involvement and effectiveness, I sadly beg to say that the INEC as presently constituted cannot guarantee effectiveness, the present involvement is one that cannot bring about a vibrant and healthy democracy and install good governance. A good referee takes pride in his independence...players do not molest him, cannot intimidate him, he has control of the office as head of the match, that umpire is passionate about the quality of his work...for INEC as of today, the elections are weeks from now, preparation is next to a man going to Iceland taking hot tea to acclimatize.

Our referee for the elections has neglected some of the basics of his office...he has even been dogged with few scandals, our electoral bodies have never thought of reviewing electoral boundaries, rather than advise government on changes, government instructs then on what it wants as results. The Independent National Electoral Commission can be trusted, it can deliver, it can be the custodian of the ballot box of hope, if it was open and honest, was willing to be allowed to function as supposed, if they would be given a chance to 'run' things in a system that values equality and diversity, listen and work with others to give Nigerians the desired change by being open and honest about their actions and deeds. Like in the World Cup a lot of players and coaches came with their antics...so also a lot of political parties are planning on how to beat the referee with their tactics, by hook or crook that is the game, survival of the best rigger, winner takes all, those that like chelsea can buy the toughest thugs and gangsters are seriously strategizing on the battle ahead.

In the light of this, is INEC in association with the other officials such as the security operatives ready to tackle with a no nonsense attitude the menace of political violence, ballot stuffing and all kinds of malpractice no matter the player involved. Only Almighty Allah can help us keep watch over those entrusted with providing us with the platform for a progressive tomorrow in this nation of ours. In times like these we need His help For: Center For Free Speech And Expression (CFES) Public Policy Market...Marketplace Of Ideas Yours In The Service Of Nation...For the Good Of All And In High Regards...I Remain Prince Charles Dickson 234-0803 331 1301, 234-0805 715 2301


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