2019: INEC strategises against inconclusive polls
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Less than two years to the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to perfect arrangements towards ensuring that the series of inconclusive elections which characterised its previous polls did not repeat itself.
Recently, the electoral body unfolded strategies that would ensure conduct of conclusive, free, fair and credible 2019 polls. And it has continued to drum it to the ears of the stakeholders at every opportunity it has that it meant business.
From the periodic consultative meetings with major and minor stakeholders including the media, political parties, security agencies, election monitoring groups and civil society organisations among others, INEC remains consistent with its message of readiness to do away with inclusive tendencies.
Smarting from the criticisms that trailed the declaration of the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States and other staggered elections as inconclusive, the series of arrangements are understandably necessary.
Although INEC had battled strenuously to convince Nigerians that it deserves encomiums with the court’s nullification of just only one out of the over 167 elections conducted under Prof Yakubu Mahmood’s watch, the stint of doubts over its competent and ability to conduct credible elections has persisted.
Speaking during the Commission’s first quarterly meeting with the media in Abuja recently, Prof Yakubu had argued that the level at which the validity of elections conducted under his watch were upheld in the court of law was another plus for the Commission.
“We have so far conducted 167 elections, and only one has so far been nullified by the court. We will continue to do what we do courageously, maybe when we are not here, somebody will say the Commission has done very well,’’ Yakubu said.
The Commission had further argued that though it had also been accused of conducting inconclusive elections, over 75 of the elections conducted by the current administration were concluded at first ballot.
It insisted that the elections declared inconclusive were done in line with the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of elections.
Warning that INEC would not lower the bar in the conduct of credible elections, Prof Yakubu noted: “We are conscious of our responsibilities and we are going to proceed as we have been doing.”
Furthermore, in an attempt to absolve the Commission of any complicity, the INEC boss had hinged several electoral problems on the desperation of the politicians, accusing the political parties of nominating ex-convicts, certificates forgers through the party primaries to contest.
While reacting to the stakeholders’ appeal to the Commission to do more in monitoring the primaries conducted by the political parties, the INEC boss said: “On monitoring party primaries and ensuring that what transpired is transmitted to the Commission, we can only appeal to the political parties to respect their own party primaries.”
He said further that: “According to the Electoral Act, if the party’s national headquarters submits the name of a candidate, the Commission has no power to change it. Are there problems in such action, yes there are problems, are there consequences, yes, there are consequences.
“In most cases, we have no option than to rerun the election at great consequences and expenses to the nation. Some of the candidates nominated ought not to be nominated if the party had followed due diligence. We will never have problem that we have in the elections nullified on account of their lack of diligence.
“It is only in the party primaries that the ex-convicts that are not qualified under the law are nominated. We saw in this country, where some parties recommended ex-convicts to contest election but INEC has no power to reject, only for court to nullify such election.
“We have in some cases, where certificate forge