Dons and labor leader rebuke INEC for postponement of elections
The Nigerian Conference of Political Parties (CNPP) has said that the Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, should be held responsible, and not President Muhammadu Buhari, if there is a political stalemate in the country after the controversy over his inability to follow his own guidelines for the 2023 general election.
The CNPP, in a statement signed yesterday by its secretary general, chief Willy Ezugwu, explained that Buhari has done everything humanly possible to ensure free, fair and credible general elections, saying that the fact that the INEC does not follow its electoral guidelines It is a recipe for crisis.
Ezugwu spoke as he reacted to the Court of Appeal verdict, granting INEC approval to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for gubernatorial and state assembly elections and the eventual postponement of state elections previously scheduled for the March 11th. 2023.
The CNPP said: “If the INEC ends up manipulating the information in the BVAS machines or deletes evidence of what really happened during the now controversial presidential elections, it can lead to disaster; the country must not allow that to happen to Nigeria and Nigerians.
“INEC should have anticipated the fact that since it introduced technology in the conduct of elections, litigants would always request inspection of the materials used in the conduct of elections.
“For INEC to seek a court order to reconfigure BVAS machines without due inspection of their raw data and CTCs issued to parties who want the information is a recipe for an avoidable crisis.
“Buhari should be blamed if anything goes wrong as a result of INEC’s move, Yakubu should be solely responsible.
“It is strange that the INEC, which did not upload the electoral results of the polling stations to the INEC Results Visualization Portal (IReV), seeks to reconfigure the BVAS while litigation is initiated by political parties in dispute that felt cheated by virtue of the failure of the Commission to load the results of the elections in real time from the voting units”.
On the postponement of the elections, the CNPP wondered why the INEC rushed to carry out the presidential and national assembly elections knowing that it would not be able to upload the results from the polling stations.
He said: “We call on Nigerians and the international community to hold INEC accountable for any crises that may arise from their actions and/or inactions, as President Buhari did his part by signing the 2022 amended electoral law and deploy all the security agencies to make sure we held the elections in a peaceful environment.
“The INEC Chairman’s conference at CHATHAM House expressly assured Nigerians and the international community of the Commission’s readiness to ensure free, fair and credible elections, but INEC itself has continued to cast doubt on its proper preparations for the general elections in 2023.
“Unfortunately, INEC did not stop collecting results from the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, even when Nigerians complained that the results were not uploading to the INEC IREV portal in real time. The commission proceeded to manually collate and announce the results and it took an entire week to slowly load many mutilated results, raising great suspicion that the results were rigged. And to top it off, the INEC sought to reconfigure the BVAS amid allegations of fraud,” the CNPP stressed.
Meanwhile, thought leaders and opinion molders, including university professors and a labor leader, have rebuked INEC for postponing the March 11 gubernatorial and house of assembly elections to March 18, 2023.
Thought leaders including Prof. Osisioma Nwolise of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, Oyo State; a former director of the defunct Center for Democratic Studies, Professor John Ayoade and a former president of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Oyo state, Andrew Emelieze, said such a step is not healthy for the nation’s democracy.
They affirmed it in several chats with Newslodge in Ibadan, the capital of the state of Oyo. Introducing him, Professor Nwolise, who is retired from the University of Ibadan, said: “This is not a democracy. For 40 years, I’ve been saying the same thing. We know how democracies work. Let them do what they want to do. Until the Nigerians are tired and then they will take their country back.”
Ayoade, who is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Premier University, said: “It seems they ran into some technical issues and are trying to prepare to respond to some issues. They suspect that there is going to be a system hack. These things are essential.
“However, it is not healthy for the system. You have raised people’s expectations; they have their plan, to change it would be to mistrust the plans. It can cause a lot of trouble in the stock market. It is irresponsible to change the dates. It is a symptom of poor planning. If you plan well, simulate and think about the possible dangers, this would not have happened.”
Emelieze too, said: “The body is not well prepared for the election. Maybe there is an ulterior motive and I suspect they want to mislead the ruling party judging by how they lost in Abuja and Lagos state in the February 25 presidential election. There seems to be no contingency plan.”