Staggered elections very challenging, says INEC
•Dismisses interference, intimidation allegations
•Defends decisions on inconclusive polls
Of the sundry challenges besetting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the most difficult is the conduct of off-season elections, its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has declared.
According to him, the staggered polls afford political players the latitude to mobilise at length and descend on a particular location for a variety of considerations, thereby exposing the commission’s weaknesses.
Speaking at a recent workshop for reporters in Abuja, Yakubu noted that general elections were easier to manage.
“You organise election in one state and see so many governors going there to campaign for their party. Although it is their democratic right to do so, but who would do so in a general election where everybody is battling for his own in his own state. So, these stand-alone elections are always very difficult for us.
“Even media attention is focused on a particular state or a particular constituency. Whereas, in a general election, the situation is not the same.
“The problem sometimes with off-season election is that you hear more of actors who are not even candidates in the election,” he said.
The INEC boss further said: “That was what happened in Rivers State. How many of you heard from any of the candidates canvassing for votes? The patrons were the ones speaking. So, that is another issue. But as for the safety of our democracy, it is safe in the hands of this INEC.”
Yakubu, who dismissed allegations of interference and intimidation from high quarters to influence outcomes of elections, added: “For those who know me from my antecedents in all the places that I have worked, it is too late to be intimidated by anybody. I cannot. For what purpose, to achieve what at this stage?
“There is nothing that I am looking for that God has not given me. I completed my studies, P.HD from Oxford at the age of 29 and my father was a headmaster. So, what is anybody going to give me now?
“The only job I prayed to God to give me is a university lecturer. I am a professor and lecturer, anything extra I do is bonus.
“But to answer your question directly or indirectly, I have not been approached by anybody to do anything in anyway other than what is appropriate.
There is no influence on INEC and there will never be any influence in INEC.
“Tell me, in what country can an election management body conduct an election in which the opposition wins 70 per cent of the seats yet it is accused of bias?”
On inconclusive polls recorded so far under him, Yakubu maintained that the decisions taken at every given time were consistent with extant laws.
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