Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has blamed the increase in the rate of inconclusive elections witnessed in the country on disruptions by the political class who most times used every means necessary including bribery, violence or intimidation to ensure victory in an election.
INEC Chairman, Mahmud Yakubu made this known in Abuja at a Civil Society/ Stakeholders roundtable meeting, organised by the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISMG) with the theme ‘Inconclusive Elections: The Facts and The Myths’.
Yakubu who was represented by the Director, Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzy explained that an inconclusive election occurs when after polls; no candidate meets the condition precedent for the declaration of a winner of the election.
He stated that though the Commission didn’t want the stigma of being referred to as an Inconclusive National Electoral Commission, but stressed that the commission would be subverting the law if it keeps on declaring or acts in haste to declare elections concluded.
According to him, “for as long as the law remains as it is, and for as long as our elections remain competitive where every vote counts and every vote is counted, successful candidates will most likely only win marginally.”
Yakubu added that, “for this reason, disruptions by way of violence, intimidation and bribery of poll officials and voters, the spectre of inconclusive elections are likely to hang over our process. Where there are no such disruptions or distortions by the political class, inconclusive elections will all but be eliminated, save for elections into the office of Governor or President where no candidate meets the constitutional criteria or in cases of natural disaster or other emergency.”
He emphasised that a candidate must satisfy all conditions stipulated by law before he could be declared a winner, noting that he or she must satisfy all legal requirements; score the majority of lawful votes cast at the election in which all eligible voters have been given the opportunity to exercise their franchise and, for executive positions, the stipulated spread in the constituency.
“Doing otherwise will amount to a breach of the constitution, the Electoral Act and the fundamentals of our democratic ethos. It will also be tantamount to encouraging or rewarding violence and malpractices. It could mean returning people as winners who have not scored the majority of lawful votes at the elections.
“It would make matters worse for us, politicians will just go ahead, secure their strongholds and disrupt where they are weak, especially in those constituencies of either in their ward, all those federal constituencies that have two or more local governments, make sure everything is perfect here and make sure there is no election anywhere else, whereby some people will be happy,” the INEC boss said.
He also clarified that inconclusive elections did not start with the present administration, adding that in 1979 the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) argument in the court challenging the presidential election – Awolowo V. Shagari, was based on inconclusive election; Rivers State Governorship election in 1999, Imo Governorship Election in 2011, Anambra Governorship Election in 2014, and Taraba, Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship Elections in 2015.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of ISDMG, Dr. Chima Amadi said the logistical issues facing INEC could be taken care of administratively, but said, “when you have unleashing of violence, killing people, abducting people, stealing materials, these are not things that we should encourage, these are not practices that we should rewarded by declaring the result and declaring them winner, so they go and represent us when they have not really passed the process of representing us; we shouldn’t condone some of these things.”
He therefore urged INEC to make sure that some of these lapses in terms of deployment of materials arriving on time should be reduced to the barest minimum.