Dons, Labour Leader Chide INEC Over Poll Postponement
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has said that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu should be held responsible and not President Muhammadu Buhari, if there is political logjam in the country following the controversy over its inability to follow its own guidelines for the 2023 general elections.
The CNPP, in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, yesterday, explained that Buhari has done everything humanly possible to ensure free, fair, and credible general elections, saying that the failure of INEC to follow its electoral guidelines is a recipe for crisis.
Ezugwu spoke while reacting to the verdict of the Court of Appeal, granting approval to INEC to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the governorship and state house of assembly elections and the eventual postponement of the state elections earlier scheduled for March 11, 2023.
The CNPP said, “If INEC ends up tampering with the information in the BVAS machines or erases evidence of what actually transpired during the now contentious presidential election, it may lead to a disaster; the country should not allow that to happen to Nigeria and Nigerians.
“INEC should have foreseen the fact that since it introduced technology in the conduct election, litigants would always apply for the inspection of materials used in the conduct of elections.
“For INEC to seek an order of the Court to reconfigure the BVAS machines without due inspection of their raw data and certified true copies (CTC) of them issued to parties wishing to obtain the information is a recipe for avoidable crisis.
“Buhari should be blamed if anything goes wrong as a result of the move by INEC, Yakubu should be solely held responsible.
“It is strange that INEC, which failed to upload election results from the polling units to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) would seek to reconfigure the BVAS while litigations are being initiated by disputing political parties that felt cheated by virtue of the failure of the Commission to upload results of the elections in real-time from the polling units.”
On the postponement of the elections, the CNPP wondered why INEC rushed to conduct the presidential and national assembly elections, knowing that it would be unable to upload the results from the polling units.
He said, “We call on Nigerians and the International Community to hold INEC to account for whatever crisis that may emanate from its actions and/or inactions as President Buhari did his part by signing the amended electoral act 2022 and deploying all the security agencies to ensure that we held the elections in peaceful environment.
“INEC Chairman’s CHATHAM House lecture expressly assured Nigerians and the international community of the Commission’s readiness to ensure a free, fair and credible elections but the same INEC has continued to create doubts about its adequate preparations for the 2023 general elections.
“Unfortunately, INEC failed to halt the collation of results of the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections even when Nigerians complained that the result were not being uploaded to the INEC IREV portal in real-time. The commission went ahead to manually collate and announce the results and took a whole week to slowly upload many mutilated results, creating wide suspicion that the outcomes were doctored. And to make matters worse, INEC sought to reconfigure the BVAS amid allegations of rigging,” the CNPP stressed.
Meanwhile, thought leaders and opinion moulders, including university dons and a labour leader have chided the INEC for postponing the March 11 governorship and house of assembly elections to March 18, 2023.
The thought leaders including Prof. Osisioma Nwolise of Political Science Department, University of Ibadan, Oyo State; a former Director of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies, Prof. John Ayoade and a former Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Oyo State, Andrew Emelieze, said such a step is not healthy for the nation’s democracy.
They stated these in various chats with The Guardian in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. In his submission, Prof. Nwolise, who retired from the University of Ibadan, said: “This is not a democracy. For 40 years, I have been saying the same thing. We know how democracies are run. Let them do whatever they want to do. Until Nigerians are tired and then, they will take back their country.”
Ayoade, who is an emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Premier University, said: “It looks like they ran into some technical hitches and they are trying to prepare how to answer some issues. They suspect there is going to be a hacking of the system. These things are essential.
“However, it is not healthy for the system. You have raised people’s expectations; they have their plan, changing it would distrust the plans. It may cause a lot of issues in the stock market. It’s irresponsible to change dates. It is a sign of poor planning. If you plan it well, simulate and think through the likely dangers, this would not have happened.”
Emelieze also, said: “The body is not well prepared for the election. Maybe there is an ulterior motive and I am suspecting they want to rig for the ruling party judging from how it lost in Abuja and Lagos State in the February 25 presidential election. It appears that there is no contingency plan.”