EditorialTHEWILL EDITORIAL: Second Chance For INEC


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February 04, (THEWILL)| – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday, February 3, 2024, had another chance to redeem its image, following its lacklustre performances in the 2023 general election, despite the huge amount of money the exercise cost the nation. Generally believed to have fallen below acceptable standards, INEC’s performance in the last general election is still a subject of discourse till date.

Last Saturday, the electoral body embarked on yet another roller-coaster as it conducted rerun and bye-elections in 26 out of the 36 states in the country. The exercise was to fill vacancies in three Senatorial Districts, 17 Federal and 26 State Constituencies spread across 80 Local Government Areas, 575 Registration Areas/Wards and 8,934 Polling Units in the country.

The 26 states are Plateau, Ebonyi, Yobe, Kebbi, Lagos, Ondo, Taraba, Benue, Borno, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River, Delta, Enugu, Jigawa, Katsina, Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Kano, Nasarawa, Niger, Oyo, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

While Nigerians wonder why rerun and bye-elections would be held so soon in 26 out of the 36 states of the federation, if INEC had done a good job during the general election held less than a year ago, the Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, came up with an explanation.

Yakubu said the bye-elections were conducted in only nine out of the 26 states to elect two senators, five members of the House of Representatives and three members of State Houses of Assembly. In other states, he noted, the rerun elections took place at designated constituencies or polling units as ordered by the election appeal tribunals.

Despite Yakubu’s explanation, some situations which, unfortunately, marred the last general election also reared their ugly heads during last Saturday’s exercise. Although not completely the fault of INEC in some of the instances, as in previous exercises, less than 10 out of 18 registered political parties participated in the rerun.

In some of the affected states, such as Sokoto, Ebonyi and Yobe, some of the participating parties were made to sign a peace accord to abhor violence and accept the outcome of the polls, given the worsening violence across the country.

Though INEC had promised to do its best to avoid the mistakes of the past, thus redeeming its already battered image with the rerun and bye-elections, Nigerians still have their doubts as they await the full results of the exercise across the states where it held.

It is, indeed, sad that in Nigeria, most elections are not really won at the polling booths but at the courts of law and, in some cases, ”by the highest bidder,” depending on the financial ability of the contestants, thus prompting some to question the real importance of the electoral body in choosing candidates into political offices.

Already, threats are being made to challenge INEC at the courts over the exclusion of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates, especially in Plateau State, over the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment that reinstated Governor Caleb Muftwang as the duly-elected governor of the state.

The PDP Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, for instance, has provided an insight into what to expect next, especially, with the case in Plateau State., saying the party would exhaust all legal options available to ensure that “INEC is compelled to follow the dictates of the law and not act according to its whim, as if it is acting to please another master other than democracy.”

We only hope that INEC has learned enough lessons to put its house in order and justify the trust that most Nigerians still have in the ability of electoral umpire to do the right thing as the last exercise has provided yet another opportunity to really redeem its image.

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