2019 Polls: The booby traps before INEC

Posted by News Express | 5 February 2019 | 882 times

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• INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu

Barely twelve days into the general elections, public rating of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is so far one of apprehension and uncertainty, despite its litany of assurances.

Conducting a general election in Nigeria is one of the toughest jobs any public officer can get. This is because; Nigeria does not have the pedigree of conducting rancor- free elections. Apart from the 1993 general election adjudged by both local and international observers—including Nigerians to have been free and fair, no other election conducted in the country has received such acclamation.

Many factors have been adduced to this—our ethno-religious and sub-nationalistic group grievances coupled with the absence of internal democracy in the political parties.

Internal conflicts in the political parties—arising most times from zoning formula and pre-election primaries’ outcomes of the political parties—have always resulted in one form of contention or the other, the result being a litany of litigations, which at the end puts INEC into logistic pressures unto the last minute to the polls.

To the general public, there are still red flags on the way of INEC that does not give total confidence that the 2019 election would be hitch-free. Opinions are that unless the INEC hierarchy and its critical stakeholders make last minute change of mind to resolve these knots, relying on procedures and legalism would not help.

According to former Head of state, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, “law is made for man and not man for the law. Daily Independent highlights some of these red flags likely to jeopardise INEC’s quest for an incontrovertible polling.

As it remains barely ten days for the presidential and NASS elections to hold, INEC is yet to come clear on whether elections would hold in some states whose party primary elections are to be resolved. For instance in River state and Zamfara state, a court of competent jurisdiction has ruled that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would not field candidate in that state following the logjam incurred during its gubernatorial primary election.

The electoral commission, INEC, has released the full list of candidates cleared to contest the state assembly and governorship elections.

The governorship and state assembly elections are scheduled to hold on March 2 across Nigeria.

In the list, no candidates of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, were listed for Rivers and Zamfara states.

INEC had said it would not allow the APC field candidates in Zamfara because the party did not hold primaries within the stipulated time. Internal wrangling among leaders of the APC in Zamfara led to the inability to hold the primaries within the stipulated time.

Another issue that the INEC would have to contend with from now to election is public apprehension of its ability to conduct a flawless poll in February 16.This stems from public rating of its last outing during the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states in 2017 and 2018.

According to the INEC’s own commissioner in the Information and Civic Education department , Mohammed Haruna,: “there is every tendency for the public to misinterpret INEC’s good intentions and determination to deliver a free and fair credible poll in 2019 because of the bad conduct of politicians in these two states during the elections.” Thus with this confession, it is feared that the general public would be going to vote with a mind already biased against INEC. Voter apathy may be likely in those states

Because of events of the past few years in the country, the country’s security profile for the election has been rated low both by opposition political parties and even the international community. This will put a credibility task on whatever INEC announces as election results, unless there is a generally acknowledged peace and order during the election. For instance, two weeks ago, USA, EU and UK expressed reservations about the country’s preparedness to conduct the election in an atmosphere of peace and order.

Late November shortly before the flag off of political party campaigns, the EU, USA UK and a host of other foreign governments Nigeria relate to in the global forum expressed concern over the security arrangement for the polls.

Excerpted from a Daily Independent report



Source: News Express

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