INEC chair: An extra day of election costs INEC N8m
• Inconclusive Election Evidence Of True Democracy
• Calls For Establishment Of Election Offences Tribunal
Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has disclosed that the commission is committed to elections being concluded at the earliest time possible because each extra day of election costs the electoral body N8m.
Yakubu, who made the disclosure during a courtesy call on The Guardian at the Rutam House, Isolo Lagos, Friday, said his mission in INEC is not to carry out experimentation, but consolidate on the gains of the 2015 election. According to him, continuity is the best way to grow institutional competence.
On the vexed issue of inconclusive elections that have trailed his emergence as INEC chairman, he said inconclusive elections are evidence that Nigeria’s elections have improved, adding that the existence of powerful political parties make it impossible to predict how the outcome would be.Buttressing his assertion, the INEC boss disclosed that the inconclusive governorship election in Kogi could be traced to the emergence of two strong political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All progressive Congress (APC).
He gave other instances: Bayelsa State, there were two very powerful candidates, a former governor versus and incumbent. Rivers State, two former governors that were not major contestants were supporting two different candidates.He observed that the beauty of democracy is when the will of the voters are respected, stressing that the evolution of two strong parties contrary to the attempt by the military regime to decree them into existence has made Nigeria democracy to mature.
Citing the example of Ghana, the INEC chairman said inconclusive election has come to stay, pointing out that Ghana has put up a law that provides for one month period to conduct a rerun election, unlike Nigeria that gives two weeks; adding that threat to violence, break out of actual violence, natural disaster lead to cancellation of elections.
When that happens, he added, the margin of winning and number of cancelled votes are some of the major reasons to declare the poll inconclusive, since according to him, “I want to ensure that all votes and polling units count” and in accordance with the constitution and the Electoral Act.
The former University teacher disclosed that politicians now work to elicit inconclusive elections, either by instigating violence in the strongholds of their rivals or in their own, hoping to win during a rerun election.He denied that the commission prevaricated during the controversial Kogi governorship out of confusion, saying that in the absence of clear provisions in the constitution and Electoral Act, he met with other commissioners and directors to take a position.
“After our meeting, I said we should all go home and sleep on our resolution so that the following day we either address a press conference or release a statement. But coincidentally, journalists confronted the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) at a public function and what he said was exactly the position we had adopted and people misconstrued our position as coming from the AGF,” he narrated.
Maintaining that he never talked with AGF on Kogi election, Yakubu said that there is nothing about inconclusive elections that has done violence to the country’s laws, adding that the commission would not operate a panic button for fear of inconclusive elections.