The Kenyan presidential election which was held a few weeks ago was fiercely contested and as expected, the outcome was challenged on the streets in parts of the country and ultimately at the Supreme Court of Kenya
Kenya led in many respects with the organization of the elections. Diaspora voting, electronic collation, transmission, and finally transparent tallying of results were acknowledged as revolutionary. In court, diligent prosecution and meticulous attention paid in adjudicating the case within a 14 days window makes the Kenyan judicial sector stand out. Continuous quality improvement is the hallmark of a society or institution that steers towards excellence.
The efforts of the INEC in Nigeria to make elections safer, freer, fairer, and more credible deserves mention but the pace must be quickened as no nation stands stationary to wait for crawling ones.
The Presidential election petition was only heard at the Supreme Court. This saved time and ensured that the matter received the attention of probably Kenyan’s most experience Jurists. Nigeria started at the Presidential Election Tribunal domiciled at the Court of Appeal and ends at the Supreme Court. This takes time though some will argue that it provides room for greater scrutiny and judicial review. In Nigeria, it’d have taken up to 3 months to consolidate the petitions and possibly rule on preliminary matters.
The whole process leading to writing the judgment was concluded within 14 days. The land mass of Kenya is approximately 580,367Km2, while Nigeria is approximately 923,768 Km2, about 59% larger than Kenya. This may make matters more difficult here but should it drag for more than 6 months to dispense with the cases? The Chief Judge of Kenya Martha Koome even promised to release to the journalist a summary of the judgment to assist in the dissemination of its judgment in the Media.
In Nigeria, sometimes, judgments are given and declarations made while parties are referred to a later date for the full transcript of the judgment. There’s a need to re-examine once again this practice.
Today’s judgment was delivered openly and even televised before the whole wide world.
In Nigeria, we advance issues of the safety of the lives of the judicial officers. Do the lives of Kenyan jurists matter less? Most times, journalists struggle to the point of violent confrontations with security agents to cover proceedings of celebrated cases. Greater transparency may help is dispelling unfounded rumors and fake news in our polity. It’ll also be great for Nigerians to put a face to the names of some bad eggs in our judicial sector whose pronouncements have continued to ridicule the nation.
The Supreme Court of Kenya may not have all the ambiance and convenience to aid their job. At a point during the televised proceeding, an electric standing fan had to be brought in near the Chief Judge who may be perspiring to make him more comfortable. While insisting that enabling an environment to be created for officials of the State to render their assigned roles, many in our country overdramatize the inadequacy of amenities so much as using it to attempt to explain ours underperformance. Patriotism should drive our actions even in the face of limitations.
Finally, the man in the eyes of the storm the petitioner VP Raila Odinga swiftly reacted to the judgment. He said he respects but disagrees with the judgment. This has provided some intelligence to Security agencies as to where and how to forestall possible breakouts of unrest. This level of proactivity most times is lacking in Nigeria as security agencies respond rather than prevent outbreaks of violence.
Big for nothing is a terrible alias. Kenya is not Nigeria but Nigeria can learn from positive developments coming from there.
Dr. Henry Ewunonu