- Conducted 127 elections in six months
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it has already commenced work on a ‘Strategic Plan’ for elections between 2017-2021, including the Election Project Plan and the tracking mechanism.
The commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated that the INEC had since the 2015 general election, conducted 50 re-run elections in 16 states in obedience to court orders.
On the whole, Yakubu said INEC had conducted 127 elections in the last six months.
In its efforts to curb electoral malpractices, Yakubu said the commission was putting finishing touches to a comprehensive proposal for constitutional and legal amendments which would be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and legislation in due course.
Yakubu, who spoke at a retreat organised by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matters in Abuja, said the cost of conducting elections in the country was becoming very high, adding that the larger percentage of the cost goes to payment of allowances and logistics.
“We are also looking at some of our guidelines and manual to see what changes are needed in the light of recent experience,” he said, adding, “furthermore, work has already commenced on a Strategic Plan for 2017-2021, including the Election Project Plan and the tracking mechanism. This will be concluded by December this year, well ahead of the general election in 2019.”
In a statement issued by the commission wednesday, it quoted the INEC Chairman as having attributed the high cost of organising elections to a number of factors, including, payment of allowances, logistics and cost of litigations.
He explained that in Rivers State, where a re-run election was conducted in March, INEC had to deploy 24,000 ad-hoc staff across the state’s 4,444 polling units with 1,319 voting points.
He said: “Eighty per cent of the cost (of Rivers Re-run election) went into the payment of allowances and logistics such as transportation.”
The other major cost, he further explained, had to do with litigations. He said: “Each and every case that goes to court, INEC is joined and we have to hire lawyers. From the last general election to date, we have been taken to court over 700 times. In fact, in the last one week alone, we have been dragged to court at least 12 times.”
According to the Yakubu, seven by-elections, occasioned by death or resignation have also been conducted in five states, while two more elections were organised at the weekend in Kwara and Nasarawa states, due to the death of two elected individuals in the Kwara State House of Assembly and House of Representatives respectively.
He said: “In the case of the FCT, it was one election, but conducted in 68 different constituencies – six council chairmen and 62 councillors. In addition, the courts have so far upturned 23 constituency elections – House of Representatives and state assemblies – and ordered the commission to withdraw certificates from candidates adjudged not to have been validly elected. We have since complied and issued certificates to the rightful winners from the 2015 general elections. We still have 31 more elections to conduct from the 2015 nullified elections, in addition to the forthcoming end of tenure election for governorship in Edo (September) and Ondo (November) states.”
However, Professor Yakubu reiterated the commission’s resolve to conduct transparent, free and fair elections in the country. But he insisted that the commission would never conclude any election for its own sake.
He explained that many of the challenges slowing INEC down were due to the culture of “do-or-die politics.”
“INEC is determined to conduct credible elections and conclude them according to the law. We will not, we will never conclude any election for its own sake. All elections must be concluded according the law, processes and procedures, no matter what criticism we take. This nation has yearned for free, fair and credible elections and this is our commitment to this country and the process.”