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Ending INEC’s inconclusive elections

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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

The 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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