2023 Presidential, NASS Elections: A Charade of Incredible Proportions
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is saddled with the task of giving Nigerians credible elections as election seasons come around. The Nigerian government has also provided more than adequate funds for the running of such elections.
Elections are so important in national life as they play an important role in national development such that when the wrong leaders are elected, the the people suffer.
On that note, the just concluded Nigerian presidential and National Assembly elections, as witnessed by Nigerians and local and international observers, were nothing to write home about.
The outrage that greeted the elections following the unprecedented malpractices calls for so many questions on the credibility of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
From observations so far, it is alarming that INEC allegedly aided and abetted the manipulation of the election in favour of the ruling party, the APC, in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 by refusing and neglecting to transmit directly the result of the elections from polling units to the INEC server as required by law.
For the avoidance of doubt and purposes of clarity, Section 60(4) (b)of the Electoral Act 2022 specifically provides the following:
“A collation officer or returning officer at an election shall collate and announce the result of an election subject to his or her verification and confirmation that the-
(b) votes stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from Polling Units under Section (60) (4) of this Act.”
Consequent on the above Section 60 (4) of the Electoral Act 2022, any result announced by INEC is ultra vires, illegal, and of no consequence unless they are results already transmitted directly from the polling units. So, procedurally, INEC cannot continue to announce results that are yet to be transmitted as expressly stated in the relevant sections of the Electoral Act.
The integrity of the election was greatly compromised and vitiated by the admission of INEC officials that there was a technical glitch in the midst of the election, which affected the effective functioning of the BVAS machines.
Furthermore, the integrity of the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is at stake after his multiple assurances to Nigerians and the international community that the Electoral Act 2022 would be a game changer that will guarantee a free, fair and transparent electoral process especially as it relates to the direct transmission of election results from polling units at all elections.
It is therefore curious that the INEC chairman should insist on proceeding with the announcement of election results that were not transmitted directly from the polling units to the INEC server/website as required by the Electoral Act.
Viewed from all directions, the presidential and National Assembly elections fell short of the credibility threshold set out by international observers and election-monitoring bodies around the globe as a basis for evaluating elections.
For instance, the Situation Room, one of the credible election observation institutions, said among other things that it expected that the innovative reforms introduced by INEC, in furtherance of the new Electoral Act 2022, would lead to efficient and accountable election management, accurate and transparent results collation and effective violence mitigation.
The election failed to give hope to Nigerians except those who thrive in corruption and ineptitude.
It is indeed a shame that INEC has subjected Nigerians to one of the worst forms of elections that is nothing short of a mere charade and a show of shame from all indications.