Sunday, February 17, 2019

Election Postponement: INEC'S Avoidable Disaster!


By the People's Bishop Kenneth Obi

Following the initial assurance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that elections would go on as planned, in a new twist, the electoral body has suddenly made a U-turn, citing logistics and operational plans as reasons for the election postponement, which will now hold on the 23rd of February, 2019.

Of course, the news did not meet Nigerians well because they had prepared their minds towards the presidential election. However, INEC has a notorious record of postponing elections based on what it did in the 2011 National Assembly elections and 2015 elections. Whereas, Jega the former Chairperson of INEC gave a full week notification prior to the postponement. Unlike the current leader who despite his assurance decided to act contrary to the chagrin of the electorate.

On a personal note, I fault INEC for postponing the elections regardless of the excuses it gave. The electoral umpire by law is only mandated to conduct a free and fair election without any other responsibility that will distract it from its primary assignment. Meaning that INEC had four good years to prepare for the elections in order to make sure that issues of logistics and operational plans do not arise.

After all, INEC does nothing else after every election. If then it cannot conduct another election as at when due, what does INEC now do with its time? Four years is too much to prepare for the next elections. Does that mean the government is funding INEC’s idleness with taxpayers’ money unknowingly or what? If this is the case, by every standard, It is very wrong. In fact, It is a shame that must be quickly rectified.

Meanwhile, there is nothing wrong for INEC to postpone elections if it has genuine reasons. At least in 2015 before the elections were postponed, the then INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega gave reasons related to the improvement of security in the Northeast (then heavily besieged by Boko Haram) so that the people in that region could exercise their franchise and it was not an impromptu notification.

Unlike the INEC under the leadership of Mahmood Yakubu that would postpone elections at the wee hours without considering the electorate who have travelled from far and wide to cast their votes. In a saner clime, if this had happened, the chairman would have resigned naturally without any external pressure, especially when if he knew that he had dashed the hope of 80 million people who were ready to vote.

Unfortunately, Mahmood Yakubu will not resign. He will still go ahead unapologetically to supervise the elections. INEC at this moment is a disaster. Its credibility is seriously on trial most especially when it initially gave the electorate a false assurance that the elections would go on as planned not knowing that it had the intention to do something contrary.

I will advise the INEC chairman to resign and hand over to someone else without partisan record because currently, some voters and the opposition party have been led astray to think that, the ruling party planned the postponement in order to increase its chances of winning the elections. Even if this is false since INEC is an independent body, completely liable to its own actions, Mahmood’s continuous stay as INEC chairman will authenticate the rumour that he is working for APC.

INEC must undergo a reform once the elections are over in order to avoid a repetition of this in the next elections. It just does not make any sense that an electoral body will not be ready on the day of election when it has four years of preparation.

Between, the reform must capture a new process that will make it easy for the electorate to register with ease and vote anywhere they find themselves provided they have their permanent voters’ card. And not the presently rigid arrangement that demands one goes to his polling booth of registration or risk being disenfranchised.

Concerned Christians Alert Group (CCAG), Nigeria Rise Initiative (NRI) in conjunction with Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice Anti Corruption Crusaders is the Best Way to Go Fighting Injustices in a Violence and Immoral Society.

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 *The People's Bishop, Kenneth Obi, Chairman, CRJ, IMO STATE*