The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has accused Nigerian politicians of being extremely desperate for power and engaging in a “do-or-die” politics.
The INEC chairman, in an address at the Civil Society Organisations Strategy Meeting to review elections in Nigeria, post 2015, organised by the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Lagos yesterday, lamented that it was this attitude and mindset that is responsible for most vices associated with the electoral process leading to inconclusive elections in some cases.
According to Yakubu who was represented by Prof. Anthonia Simbine, the National Commissioner in charge of Election and Party Monitoring, “Perhaps the greatest challenge faced by any Election Management Body (EMB) is the general attitude of politicians. You will all agree that here, there is acute desperation for power, eloquently captured in the dictum of do-or-die politics.”
He insisted that “it is responsible for most of vices associated with the process, including violence (which often results in inconclusive elections), hate speeches, bribery and all forms of malpractices. Unless there is attitudinal change and rejection of this mindset, our process is likely to be bedevilled by such negative and subversive tendencies.”
He disclosed that since the 2015 general election, the INEC has conducted over 167 elections nationwide with 123 concluded on first ballot while 44 were concluded on second ballot.
While lamenting security as a key challenge, he said the violence that followed all the elections in Rivers State was unprecedented.
Yakubu also said conflicting court judgements and orders is another major hindrance to the electoral process, saying: “This has led to much uncertainty in the electoral process with courts of coordinate jurisdiction giving conflicting orders even on the same subject matter or lower courts not abiding by the decisions of superior courts, including Supreme Court.”
Other challenges the INEC is facing included “inadequacy of key officials such as Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC),” adding that “it was not until recently that the balance of six national commissioners were appointed.”
The unsettled legal framework (new amendments to the Electoral Act), weak and inadequate civil infrastructure coupled with the difficult terrain in some areas and logistical problems.
The INEC chief also lamented “apathetic citizenry, weak political parties and inadequate institutional support for voter mobilisation and enlightenment resulting in low participation at elections by both the voter and political parties and over seven million uncollected PVCs.”
Despite these, Yakubu, however, has some cheering news about future elections, saying the commission has initiated some internal operational initiatives and reforms.
“Several major initiatives are being undertaken by the commission. They include capacity building of staff, promotion and posting of competent staff in a targeted manner, establishment of operational review committee on polling units and constituencies.”
He therefore concluded that the nation’s nascent democracy is a work in progress, “hence we must guard against those things that will lead to or contribute to regeneration. We should all join hands to ensure that we build on the foundations for a virile, sustainable and indeed, enduring Nigerian electoral process.”