President, Govs should vacate office over pending electoral cases –C’tee
By HENRY UMORU
THERE was a sharp disagreement, yesterday, between the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and members of the Committee on Political Parties and Electoral Matters on the feasibility of conducting the 2015 general elections and subsequent ones in one day.
While the committee, which has former Senate Presidents Iyorchia Ayu and Ken Nnamani as co- chairmen recommended that all the elections should henceforth be conducted same day, the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega countered that it was not realistic considering logistic challenges.
A member of the committee and former national president of the Nigeria Union Journalists, Mallam Sani Zoro, told reporters that committee has recommended that INEC should conduct elections into all elective offices at the state and federal levels on same day. He said they arrived at the decision after a careful study of staggered elections in the country, adding, “We have agreed that all elections should hold on a single day where feasible.
We think the advantage derivable from that exercise is much more than the advantages of having staggered elections. First of all cost will be reduced. Secondly we are also of the opinion that there won’t be voters’ fatigue.”
However, Jega, while appearing before the committee dismissed the idea of conducting all elections in one day, saying, “ INEC as it is now cannot do election in one day because of logistic challenges and if you conduct elections in one day, the logistics of it is going to be enormous, the cost, and the risk will over weigh the benefit of trying it.”
Jega said that collating the votes and announcement would take a week, thereby creating tension in the minds of the people, adding, “it will take a week to tabulate and announce results and this will create tension that is why we in INEC we say, let us take a step at a time and keep on improving. We do not support doing election in one day in 2015.”
Speaking further, Zoro who noted that the committee has also recommended that electronic voting be used in our elections to replace the present manual voting system.
On the demand in some quarters for mid-term election as practiced in the United States of America, the former NUJ president who explained that the committee jettisoned the idea as it might distort INEC’s preparations for the 2015 election, said “We thought if we are to start it now we may complicate matters because INEC has already come up with a timetable for 2015.
According to him, the committee has also recommended that all elected public office holders must quit office the day they complete their tenure if there was a case challenging their return to the same office in the election tribunal, adding, “I can also tell you that the sub-committee today agreed on something that is so fundamental.
That is wherein if the trial of any case that arose as a pre-election matter beyond the stipulated 180 days the incumbent cannot continue to be in office once it is 29 of May, the day that newly elected office holders should be sworn in.
“Once there is a case challenging you in office you have to give way. It is only after the case might have been disposed off that you can be sworn in.
“In other words, there is no office holder that will stay a day more than four years.
Being in office as an incumbent is not an excuse to extend your tenure by one hour any longer. The Chief Judge or the Speaker of the House or, in the case of the presidency, whoever the constitution stipulates will move in and act until the issues are disposed off.”