The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is scheduled to conduct 28 court-ordered elections in 12 states on Saturday, January 25, 2020. Mr Festus Okoye, INEC’s Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, gave details of the circumstances leading to the re-run elections on Wednesday.
He explained that, “There are, so far, 30 court-ordered re-run and supplementary re-run elections. Two of these namely, the re-run election for the Ajaokuta federal constituency and the supplementary re-run election for the Kogi-West senatorial district were conducted on November 30, 2019. Consequently, there are 28 court-ordered elections still outstanding, which are distributed across 12 states of the federation. The break down comprises one senatorial district out of 109; 12 federal constituencies out of 360, and 15 state assembly constituencies out of 991. In many of the cases, elections are to be re-run in only a few polling units.”
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Yakubu Mahmoud, at the swearing-in of new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) during the week, stated that the electoral umpire was prepared to conduct the supplementary elections. He said, “I wish to assure Nigerians that the commission is ready for the re-run elections. All sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to the States, stakeholders’ meetings have been held, security arrangements are being finalised while training and posting of ad hoc staff as well as the configuration of Smart Card Readers are ongoing. Where the elections involve entire constituencies, national as well as some Resident Electoral Commissioners will be deployed. The Commission will work with the security agencies to ensure adequate protection of election officials, accredited observers, the media and the processes generally against acts inimical to the conduct of peaceful and credible elections. We have received assurances from the security agencies of adequate protection of the processes in line with the rules of engagement for election duty.”
The re-run and supplementary elections is an opportunity for INEC to redeem its image, considering the fact that the last elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States were marred by fraud, violence, manipulations, and even killings. For these reasons local and international observers assessed them to be below standard. In Kogi State, especially, the elections were characterized by intimidation and deaths, which were later condemned by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In tomorrow’s elections we call on INEC to ensure that electoral and presiding officers deployed are well-trained, and should be persons of integrity. Multiple reports indicated that previous elections were destabilized as a result of collusions between electoral officers and politicians. Elections cannot be credible except those who conduct them say NO to all manner of inducements from desperate politicians who believe that with money, not by the votes of electorate, theycan purchase political power.
Security is vital to the success of any election. Therefore, we call of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to deploy security operatives to all the constituencies where elections will be conducted on Saturday. Such policemen should be warned against compromises or collusion with politicians who would want to abuse the electoral process in order to be declared winners by hook or by crook. It is well-known that without collaborating with security operatives, it would be difficult for any politician to successfully perpetrate fraud in any election. Policemen must stop such politicians from foisting themselves as leaders on the nation through fraudulent elections.
In the same vein, we call on politicians to be sportsmanly as they approach elections. To be elected into political offices should not be a do-or-die ‘project.’Rather than force their will upon the people, politicians should engage in effective electioneering campaigns, sell their policies and programmes to the people and allow voters to cast their votes in line with their conviction. Politicians have been accused of frustrating credible elections in this country. Therefore, in the interest of peace, security and harmony, we call on them to, by all means, eschew acts that would sabotage tomorrow’s elections.