INEC can hold all elec­tions in one day

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

The Se­nate re­cently com­menced con­sid­er­a­tion of three bills seek­ing to amend cer­tain as­pects of the 2010 Elec­toral Act ahead of the 2015 elec­tions. Mem­bers were sharply di­vided over some of the pro­pos­als, in­clud­ing a pro­posal to grant the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC) pow­ers to use elec­tronic voting ma­chines in fu­ture polls.

The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion also seeks to re­move INEC Chair­man’s power to ap­point sec­re­tary of the Com­mis­sion and vest it in the pres­i­dent, fur­ther erod­ing the Com­mis­sion’s nom­i­nal in­de­pen­dence and mak­ing it more an­swer­able and there­fore sus­cep­ti­ble to the ma­nip­u­la­tions of the ap­point­ing author­ity.

Per­haps the most cru­cial of the bills is the one that pro­poses that INEC should con­duct all elec­tions in one day. Leading the de­bate on the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion, Se­na­tor Abu Ibrahim, its spon­sor, ar­gued that such pro­ce­dure would be in tune with global best prac­tices and cost ef­fec­tive.

Al­though INEC chair­man Pro­fes­sor At­tahiru Jega on Mon­day fore­closed, rather un­for­tu­nately, the con­duct of all elec­tions in a sin­gle day in the 2015 elec­tions, it would be use­ful for the coun­try to pre­pare to do that in sub­se­quent polls.

If the yearn­ings and hopes for cred­i­ble elec­tions are to be ad­dressed in a pos­i­tive way, hold­ing all elec­tions in one day is the way to go. The huge re­sources that the coun­try ex­pends on elec­tions are a trend that is dis­turb­ing and should end. With only a day slated for all elec­tions, this cost will be dras­ti­cally re­duced. In the last elec­tions in 2011, stag­gered over three weeks, INEC paid the ad-hoc staff it en­gaged for the ex­er­cise 50 bil­lion naira for one day, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures that Se­na­tor Ibrahim ref­er­enced in ar­gu­ing the bill’s rel­e­vance.

Be­sides cut­ting cost, hold­ing elec­tions in one day will pro­mote greater par­tic­i­pa­tion of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the process even if many of them rel­a­tively do not have enough re­sources as the rul­ing party does.

Cru­cially, such a process will elim­i­nate the so-called ‘band­wagon’ ef­fect, in which the out­come of pre­ced­ing elec­tion shapes voter at­ti­tude in sub­se­quent ones. Not sur­pris­ing, rul­ing party stal­warts op­posed the thrust of the pro­posed bill, hing­ing their ar­gu­ment on the ten­u­ous ar­gu­ment that INEC lacked the ca­pac­ity to em­bark on such ex­er­cise. Se­nate Pres­i­dent David Mark op­posed the pro­ce­dure, and Deputy Se­nate Leader Ab­dul Ningi in­sisted that the Na­tional As­sem­bly was most suited to stip­u­late the pro­ce­dure for elec­tions, and that INEC should not have the power to de­ter­mine their se­quence. These are puerile and ret­ro­gres­sive ar­gu­ments. It is amaz­ing they would be can­vassed in the Se­nate to shoot down what other­wise would ad­dress most of the suc­ces­sion crises that this coun­try has had to grap­ple with in its lead­er­ship changes over the years since in­de­pen­dence.

More­over, such ar­gu­ments are based on sen­ti­ments. If INEC can hold elec­tions on five dif­fer­ent days, what ca­pac­ity would it re­quire for con­duct­ing them in one day, since the num­ber of polling sta­tions would re­main the same? If the amend­ment passes, INEC would then have the power to de­ter­mine the se­quence of elec­tions. But hold­ing all the elec­tions in one day is the ideal that the coun­try should strive, and INEC should pre­pare, for.

From bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence, spread­ing elec­tions over a pe­riod of time has al­ways been bur­den­some on the na­tional re­sources, as INEC is re­quired to pay for the wel­fare of polling clerks, pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers, the po­lice, the SSS per­son­nel, road safety per­son­nel, the Civil De­fence Corps, the mil­i­tary, im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials, or­ga­ni­za­tions on spe­cial duty such as emer­gency agencies, and

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.