Wait what?: INEC says it cannot guarantee conclusive elections in 2019


He pointed out that any attempt to give such assurance at this time would approximate second-guessing the outcome of the election, noting that it had become inevitable for the commission to declare some elections inconclusive.

The INEC chairman was however quick to point out that if everyone, including the staff of the commission, the voters, politicians and other stakeholders, play by the rules, there would be no inconclusive election.

He disclosed this on Friday when he led some staff of the commission, including a national commissioner, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, on a visit to the corporate headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited in Magboro, Ogun State.

His words, “We can’t second-guess to say this is the outcome of an election before it happens, unless we are not conducting elections. We hope it won’t lead to that, but if it happens, the constitution has a way out of it.

“There is no way the commission will declare any election conclusive where the threshold is not met. We can only declare an election conclusive when we are satisfied with the law and electoral act because all elections are governed by constitutional provisions, provisions of the electoral act and our guidelines. This is the challenge that we face, but we must express it because we (INEC) will not compromise.

“The constitution of this country provides condition for making return in an election. If that threshold is not met, can INEC make a declaration? We can’t, under the law, and if you do so the court will nullify the election and then we incur costs to do the election again.

“As to what will happen in 2019, only God knows, but we will abide by the provisions of the constitution, the electoral law and our guidelines in making declarations. We can only hope for the best.”

Speaking extensively on the inconclusive elections conducted by the commission, Yakubu explained that majority of the 137 elections conducted by INEC in the past eight months were conclusive, dismissing insinuations that the commission had been organising inconclusive elections.

He observed that people had been used to conclusive elections on first ballot, adding that the political terrain has changed completely.

The INEC boss stated that most of the elections were a product of the 2015 general elections and that there were no less than 680 court cases emanating from the 2015 general elections.

According to him, “It is not strange. More than any commission in the history of this country, we have conducted more elections outside the context of general elections. People often forget that we had inconclusive elections in the past.

“The first inconclusive election in Nigeria was in 1979, and that was the election that brought Shagari into power. We have forgotten about the mathematics of what two-third of 19 was, whether it was 12 or not. Eventually, the matter wasn’t resolved by the commission. People like Richard Akinjide went to court, and eventually the court decided the winner in 1979.

“In recent times, we have had series of inconclusive elections. The governorship election in Bauchi State was inconclusive because of post-election violence and INEC concluded the election after two weeks. The same thing happened in Imo; the first election that brought in Rochas Okorocha was inconclusive, until two weeks after. In 2015, Taraba, Abia and Imo were inconclusive and there were other constituency elections where elections were inconclusive.

“The most difficult election for the commission to conduct are off-season elections, because the attention of everybody focuses on a particular constituency and the political actors and gladiators and their antics have time to mobilise nationwide to descend on a particular constituency, which made the conclusion of such elections very difficult.

“What I want Nigerians to understand is that our democracy is maturing. If it matures, it cannot be the way we used to do things before. The mindset would have to change. Days were long gone when politicians do everything they can to be declared winners, knowing that the case would end up in court.

“So, let’s hope for the best, but it is everybody’s responsibility to make this democracy work. Citizens can protect their mandate. If we play by the rules and we are patient, I’m sure we will minimise all these issues leading to inconclusiveness.”

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