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We Could Have Done Better, If @MBuhari had signed The Amended Electoral Act, @INECNigeria National Commissioner

by on June 2, 2019
 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has appraised its performance in the last general election and commended itself as having done well. How do you reconcile that with the litigation trailing the outcome of the entire process?

Well, the conduct of credible elections is a multi-stakeholder venture, involving the electoral management body, in this case, INEC. It involves the security agencies; it involves the political parties; it involves the media, civil societies and organisations. It involves the legislature and also involves the executive branch of government, as well as the judicial arm of government.

It is when these agencies and these organs of government work in harmony that credible elections can be delivered.

It is when these agencies and these organs of government work in harmony that credible elections can be delivered.

So, to that particular extent, we believe that we did well with the 2019 elections.

Now, there are what we call pre-election and post-election matters. The litigation you refer to are mostly pre-election matters. As of today, INEC has 809 pre-election matters and these are the products of opaque party primary elections. Section 87 of the Electoral Act obligates every registered political party wanting to field candidates for elections to conduct direct or indirect party primaries and for you to conduct that direct or indirect primaries also presupposes that you have to have a venue; you have to fix a time, and you also have to fix a date for the same primaries.

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Section 87 clearly states in unambiguous terms that the political parties shall only submit the name of the aspirants who scored the highest number of votes in the party primaries as the candidate of the political party.

It is this candidate of the party or it is that aspirant of the party who has won majority of lawful votes in the party primary election that transforms into a candidate whose name shall be submitted to INEC, under Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

So, many of the political parties didn’t conduct valid party primary elections.

Second, on January 9, 2018, the INEC released the timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the 2019 elections, detailing everything relating to the conduct of party primary elections and also all stages of the elections. Some of the political parties didn’t conduct their party primaries within the time-frame allotted to them under the timetable and schedule of activities of the commission. That’s the reason we have over 809 pre-election matters as of today.

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So, these pre-election matters have nothing to do with INEC; it has everything to do with the failure, in some instances, of the political parties to abide by their own party constitution relating to how party primary elections should be conducted. It has everything to do with their failure to abide and recognise the fact that in the conduct of party primary elections, they must conform to Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

lso has everything to do with the level of impunity exhibited in some of the political parties, where people, who clearly won party primaries, were unconscionably substituted with people who, in some instances, didn’t participate in party primaries; and their names were submitted to INEC as candidates of the political parties.

So, these pre-election matters have really nothing to do with the performance of the INEC, in terms of its mandate of conducting elections.

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Now, as of May 22, 2019, the commission has been served with a total of 799 post-election matters. These are matters that are before the various election petitions tribunals, and in most of these matters, the INEC is just a respondent. Some of the matters have to do with the qualification of candidates; whether the candidate that was sponsored by a particular political party had the requisite educational qualifications to contest election. That has nothing to do with whether INEC did well or not in the conduct of elections. Some of the matters deal with whether INEC conducted genuine elections, whether the proper political parties were those that were returned in the elections.

Some of them also have something to do with whether officials of the commission that conducted elections were intimidated; whether the security agencies compromised the elections. It is a combination of all these that has led to the combination of 799 post-election matters that we have in courts.

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