INEC meets party leaders, decries frequent by-elections

The Independent National Electoral Election on Monday expressed concerns over the frequency of by-elections in Nigeria saying there was need for national conversation around the trend.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this during the first virtual consultative meeting with leaders of 18 political parties in Abuja.

The commission also said the submission of nomination forms of candidates for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for September 19 and October 10 would be done online.

Yakubu said, “As we await the declaration of vacancy from the Speaker of the (Zamfara) state Assembly, the number of by-elections has increased. The commission mourns the loss of all our national and state legislators and extends condolences to their families and constituents.

“At the same time, there is need for a national conversation around the frequency of by-elections in Nigeria. In the month of May 2020 alone, five members of state Houses of Assembly passed on. Since December 2019, a period of six months, 12 members of the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly have similarly passed on.

“This is in addition to the resignation of two senators from Bayelsa who have been sworn-in as governor and deputy governor of the state. The cost of conducting these by-elections to the commission –  the security agencies, political parties and candidates, election observers, the media, litigations (both pre-election and post-election) and disruption of activities as a result of the restriction of movement on election day – is enormous.

“There is no election season in Nigeria any longer. The commission is busy conducting elections all-year round between one general election and another. This often diverts our attention away from reforms, innovation, peer learning and planning for the consolidation of our electoral process.”

The commission warned political parties that intend to field candidates for the elections to adhere strictly to the new online procedure for filing of nominations.

Yakubu appealed to political parties that opted for direct or indirect primaries to “avail us with the register of members (and delegates) to be used for the election from ward to local government and state levels for the effective discharge of our monitoring responsibilities under the law.”

Speaking at the event, the Interim National Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council and National Chairman of the African Action Congress, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, said, “The parties are also excited that the commission has opted to take the bull by the horn to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process with its planned introduction of electronic voting machine in the 2021 polls on a pilot scheme.”

<<Punch>>