Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as an Election Management Body, EMB, in the country was established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to, among other things, organize elections into various political offices in the country.

The functions of INEC as contained in Section 15, Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 2 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) include the following:

Organize, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice-President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a State, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly of each state of the federation;

Register political parties in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and Act of the National Assembly; Monitor the organization and operation of the political parties, including their finances; conventions, congresses, and party primaries, amongst several other functions conferred on INEC by the constitution.

However, elections in the country since returning to civilian rule in 1999, cannot be described as nearly perfect, as the processes at various times have been marred by various vices like vote-buying, ballot-box stuffing and stashing, election induced violence, intimidations, and even killings, which many have tagged the hallmark of Nigeria’s electoral process.

Nevertheless, as part of efforts towards ensuring free, fair, and credible elections in the country, various successive leadership of the country’s EMB has tried in their own capacities to change the narrative, though time and lack of continuity cannot allow Nigerians to properly appraise and fathom the impact of their inputs.

When former President Olusegun Obasanjo came into government in 1999, the then Chairman of INEC, which is a body established by the Abdulsalam government, was Chief Ephraim Akpata. When Chief Akpata died in 2000, Obasanjo appointed Dr. Abel Guobadia, who retired in 2005. Guobadia was succeeded by Professor Maurice Iwu, who held on until 2010 when President Jonathan appointed Professor Atahiru Jega. When President Buhari came into government in 2015, he removed Jega, under whose election he won the presidency, and appointed Professor Mahmood Yakubu. Apart from the latter, none of this past INEC Chairman was given the opportunity of a second term in office and that is why all eyes are on Prof. Yakubu to see his deliverables at ensuring credible, as well as locally and internationally accepted electoral processes that will be a paradigm shift from the norm.

Nigeria’s electoral process, starting from the conduct of party primaries has been known to be a herculean task for the Commission to manage, though an intra-party affair, but lack of internal party democracy among most political parties in the country will always ensure INEC is dragged into mismanaged primaries which stem from non-adherence to the provisions of the country and party constitution and the Electoral Act.

The conduct of elections and all antecedents challenges that come with them which appears to be a recurring decimal forms the nucleus of hurdles the Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu must scale in order to move the country’s electoral process to near perfect if not perfect, as recently shown in the just concluded US Presidential election that there is no perfect democracy, arguable though.

The All Progressives Congress, APC, in its congratulatory message to the INEC boss on his reappointment stated that the country’s electoral processes are far from perfect, but marked improvements have been recorded in a series of recent elections conducted and that the task before Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and the election management body he leads is to strive further in being unbiased and apolitical.

According to the party; “Technological innovations recently introduced and deployed by INEC have greatly improved the credibility and efficiency of our election processes. We must continue to support and invest in these innovations.”

APC also urged INEC to continually embark on regular voter education and sensitization to improve voter turnout and check illegalities such as vote-buying and other emerging frauds in the country’s electioneering processes.

“In all elections, valid votes must count and the majority will of the electorate prevails. This is a creed INEC and indeed all partisans must subscribe to in the interest of our democracy,” the party added.

In the same vein, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, after the reappointment Prof Yakubu, counseled him to go to Ghana and United States and take a study from their electoral bodies on how to conduct the free, fair, transparent and credible general election.

The PDP stated that Prof. Yakubu should not recourse to excuses but to use them more than two years ahead of the 2023 general election to rejig Nigeria’s electoral commission and work out legislations and operational rules that will guarantee a free, credible, and all-inclusive electoral process.

The party in its statement charged the INEC boss to learn from the Ghana electoral commission, which is making more room for a more all-inclusive electoral process by kick-starting a special voting system to enable personnel of critical service providers to cast their ballots days ahead of the December 7, election date.

The PDP also advised the INEC Chairman to study how the United States credibly conducted a keenly contested 2020 Presidential election without recourse to government influence and use of a security to suppress the wishes of citizens as expressed at the polling units.

The opposition party also urged the INEC Chairman to engage political stakeholders for legislation, rules, and field procedures, to curb violence, ensure the security of electoral materials and guarantee the safety of voters.

“The INEC Chairman should initiate processes and procedures that will guarantee prompt arrival of ballot materials, rapid accreditation, and voting; the instant transmission of results from polling units as well as seamless collation of figures.

“Our party demands Prof. Yakubu to improve on legislation that restricts the involvement of security agencies in voting and collation processes, check underage and alien voters, vote-buying, alteration of results and manipulation of the voter register.

“The PDP urges Prof. Yakubu to pursue an amendment to the electoral act to make it mandatory for INEC to publish voter register online, thus terminating the doctoring of the register and accreditation process,” the party stated.

The Peoples Democratic Party maintained that with the new appointment, Prof Yakubu has been given an “ample time and opportunity to redeem the image of the commission and give the nation a credible election that will be devoid of the failures, disappointments, miscarriages, and litigations that characterized his first five years tenure.

“Our party urges the reappointed INEC Chairman to note that the 2023 general election will hugely impact on the fate of over 200 million Nigerians. As such, he must ensure that the nation does not go down in his hands,” PDP added.

With all these outlined hurdles to be scaled to ensure that the country’s electoral system reflects the will of the people in deepening Nigeria’s democracy, one hopes that as stated by Prof. Yakubu that: “I am back and work continue earnestly” he is ready for the greater tasks ahead, to complement on the success of his predecessor (Prof. Atahiru Jega) at the 2015 general elections, as well as write his name in gold, especially now that the scheming of the political actors in the country has further divided the country and the call for restructuring is echoing louder on daily basis from some parts of the country, as it is believed to be the only way out of Nigeria’s political quagmire.

 

QUOTE:

Nevertheless, as part of efforts towards ensuring free, fair, and credible elections in the country, various successive leadership of the country’s EMB has tried in their own capacities to change the narrative, though time and lack of continuity cannot allow Nigerians to properly appraise and fathom the impact of their inputs.

 


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