“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
By Daniel Kanu
This is not the first time Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has raised the alarm over security threat in the land and the danger it poses to the forthcoming general elections.
Again, following the disturbing and growing wave of election-related insecurity across the country, INEC on January 9, expressed fears that the trend could lead to the cancellation or postponement of the polls, if not checked.
It is no longer news that offices and personnel of INEC have been objects of attacks by hoodlums in different parts of the country lately. In some instances, staff of the commission have been killed and its facilities set ablaze.
In particular, INEC warned that the ugly development could hinder declaration of election results and precipitate constitutional crisis. The Commission called for concerted efforts to stem the tide of violence.
The Chairman, Board of the Electoral Institute (TEI), INEC’s training arm, Prof Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, made the candid observation at the validation of election security training resources held in Abuja.
According to Zuru, “we all appreciate the fact that election security is vital to democratic consolidation through provision of enabling environment for the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections and thus strengthening the electoral process.
“Consequently, in preparations for the 2023 general elections, the Commission is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that intensive and extensive security are provided for election personnel, materials and processes.
“This is particularly significant to the Commission given the current insecurity challenges in various parts of the country and the fact that the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members constitute the core of the polling unit election officials.
“Moreover, if the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation and/or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of elections results and precipitate constitutional crisis.’
With less than 42 days to the 2023 general election, the forthright statement of Zuru, expectedly has generated so much social media buzz, as well as anxiety, apprehension, trepidation and misinterpretation in different quarters, with some stakeholders and individuals suggesting of a hidden agenda to scuttle the 2023 elections.
Zuru’s nationalistic observation, may, however, not be the official position of INEC, but his personal viewpoint, hence the reason for clarification of facts by INEC.
The public reactions no doubt, jolted the presidency and INEC as they issued separate statements that nothing like contemplating postponement or cancellation is in the picture as election will hold as scheduled.
The Federal Government through the Information Minister, Lai Mohamed, said that there is no such plan to cancel the 2023 elections.
Even President Buhari on Wednesday, while receiving the executive members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the State House, Abuja, assured Nigerians that the forthcoming elections would hold as scheduled.
Chairman of INEC, Prof Yakubu, putting the records right also reaffirmed and promised Nigerians that the election dates remain sacrosanct as the exercise would hold as scheduled.
He stressed that INEC was not contemplating postponing or cancelling the polls.
Yakubu reaffirmed as sacrosanct, the days allotted for the elections, while presenting the national register of voters to political parties on Thursday in Abuja.
He insisted that the repeated assurances by the security agencies for the adequate protection of its personnel, materials and processes also reinforced the commission’s determination to proceed with the polls.
Yakubu stated categorically that any report to the contrary was not the official position of the Commission.
INEC boss said: “The clarification became imperative following a statement credited to the Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute (BEI), Abdullahi Zuru, who had warned that the polls faced threat of cancellation if the level of insecurity across the country continued”.
Yakubu recalled that on February 26, last year, the commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election, saying that since then, the commission had been relentlessly implementing the 14 step-by-step activities listed in the timetable.
He noted that some of the major activities included the conduct of primaries by political parties, nomination of candidates, the publication of list of candidates and commencement of campaign by political parties.
According to him, with the presentation of the register of voters to political parties at the meeting, the commission has now successfully implemented 11 out of the 14 activities on schedule, adding that the implementation of other activities has proceeded in earnest.
But some keen observers have cautioned that as cheering and reassuring as the promises of INEC and the presidency may be, there is the urgent need to take seriously the patriotic observation of Nigerians resident abroad.
Under the aegis of Diaspora for Good Governance (DGG) the group called on INEC to subject the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVCs), Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Result Viewing Portals (IReV), and INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVE) to integrity test before next month’s poll.
DGG warned that the call became expedient as a result of the failure of the systems to address issues of multiple underage and fake registrations.
Chima Christian, member DGG noted that “the inability of BVAS to capture attempted and successful accreditation of voters so as to assess its success rate must be tackled.”
DGG has also accused INEC of attempting to suppress the votes of some geo-political zones through its system and PVC distribution. This is serious allegation that INEC must properly address and come out clean.
Prof Mahmood Yakubu was born in Bauchi in May 1962. He attended Teachers’ College, Toro, Bauchi State.
He undertook his undergraduate studies at the University of Sokoto (now Usman Dan Fodiyo University). He graduated with a first-class honours in History in 1985, winning the Waziri of Sokoto Prize for the Best Graduating Student and setting an enduring record as the first student from Northern Nigeria to graduate with a first-class in history.