By Sadiq Umar – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has blamed politicians for the many inconclusive elections recorded across the country, noting that those seeking elective offices often use every means necessary including bribery, violence or intimidation to ensure victory in an election.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu made this known on Thursday 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”.
The INEC Chairman explained that an inconclusive election occurs when after polls; no candidate meets the condition precedent for the declaration of a winner of the election.
Represented by the INEC Director, Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzy Professor Yakubu stated that though the Commission didn’t want the stigma of being referred to as an Inconclusive National Electoral Commission, streessed that INEC would be subverting the law if it keeps on declaring or is in haste to declare elections concluded.
“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.”
” 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 explained
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 distrupt where they are weak, especially in those constituency 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, any be 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 Director of the ISDMG, Dr. Chima Amadi said the logistical issues facing INEC could be resolved administratively in a peaceful atmosphere , while violence and brigandage by politicians can only create an unsafe environment that won’t guarantee the conclusion of elections noting that those who did not secure the vote of the people should not represent them.
“When you have politicians unleashing violence, killing people, abducting people, stealing materials; acts that are anathema to the conduct of successful elections ,these are not things that we should encourage neither should those who engage these practices be rewarded in the desperation to declare these flawed results”.
He urged INEC to make sure that lapses in terms of deployment of materials should be reduced to the barest minimum.
“Our focus should be on the activities of politicians, on their actions; in chosing those who represent us , it must be by our will as determined through the ballot box and not by the size of the guns of rival politicians, for example what happened in Rivers State should not be encouraged anywhere,” Amadi noted.