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Monday, April 4, 2016

Ending INEC’s inconclusive elections

WE join other concerned Nigerians to register
our disappointment over the spate of
inconclusive elections which have taken place
under the watch of the Professor Mahmood
Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC), which some now cynically
refer to as the “inconclusive” National Electoral
Commission.
Since October 21, 2016 when President
Muhammadu Buhari named the new helmsmen
for INEC, the electoral body has conducted three
state elections – in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers
states. Each of them was declared inconclusive at the end. rivers-inecThe reasons adduced ranged from violence to
the large number of voters who could not vote
for one reason or the other.
Professor Yakubu responded to criticisms against
his performance so far by pointing out that there
were also inconclusive elections under the
regime of his predecessor, Professor Attahiru
Jega in Anambra, Imo and Taraba States, adding
that the polls were inconclusive, mainly because
of their high level of competitiveness. We hasten
to remind Yakubu that three fails out of three
tries cannot be anything but disappointing. He
and his colleagues at the electoral body must
look inwards and improve their act because of
the heavy toll that every inconclusive election
exacts on all stakeholders.
Each time an election is declared inconclusive, it
means the taxpayer has to cough out huge sums
of money for a rerun or fresh election. It also
imposes great financial burdens on electoral
candidates and their political parties, thus
heightening the stakes for corruption when such
individuals get into public office. Moreover, each
inconclusive election heightens further tension
and sends the contenders “back to the trenches”
and more lives and property are lost during the
reruns. The damage done to the entire system is
difficult to quantify.
We acknowledge, however, that the INEC alone
cannot guarantee free, fair and conclusive
elections. The security agencies, which are
usually massively mobilised for polls, must do
more to secure our elections.
The amount of violence and killings which take
place in spite heavy security mobilization is
difficult to justify. Politicians must play
according to the rules. They must do away with
their do-or-die mentality and control the
excesses of their supporters. Political parties
must also work harder on voter education to
enhance voters turnout and orderly conduct.
Importantly, however, we call on President
Muhammadu Buhari to fully constitute the Board
of the INEC to the constitutionally-required 13
National Commissioners, rather than the current
seven. He should quickly appoint the remaining
18 State Resident Electoral Commissioners for
INEC to have the full compliment that will
provide the intellectual capacity needed to
deliver better results. We are not impressed
with the conduct of our elections in the past six
months, and this must change for the better.

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