THE 2019 general elections
is two years away from now,
but many politicians and
political parties have started
preparation in earnest.
Many politicians now spend
most of the weekends in
their constituencies, thus
using such period to attend
political, social and even
religious events as a way
of getting closer to the
people. On their part, some
of the parties such as the
All Progressives Congress,
APC had long embarked on
membership drive ahead of
2019.
Interestingly, the race
towards 2019 has since been
gathering momentum with
some political calculations,
intrigues and maneuvering
going on. While the
opposition party – the PDP
is trying to stand firm with
both legs, the ruling APC is
trying to tell Nigerians that it
is fully in charge and capable
of winning most slots in the
2019 general elections.
Unfortunately, some
desperate politicians, who
are bent on scuttling the
election process, have
begun importing arms and
ammunition with which
to rig and manipulate the
results of the poll in their
favour.
Recently, Nigeria Customs
Service seized 661 pump
action rifles allegedly
imported into the country
from China by an unknown
politician. They were packed
in 49 boxes and concealed
with steel doors and other
merchandize goods in a 40ft
container. The Comptroller
General of Customs, CGC,
Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) said
the weapons had been
cleared and had left the port,
but customs undercover
agents on receipt of “useful
information” went after the
truck. He said the weapons
were being transported in a
mark truck to an unknown destination.
In view of this, many
stakeholders in the electoral
process have argued that
instead of rushing to release
the dates for the 2019 elections,
the Independent National
Electoral Commission, INEC
should rather embarked on
continuous voters’ registration,
education and sensitization as
to make the electoral process
more credible.
On March 9, 2017, the
commission announced dates
for the 2019 general elections.
In a statement posted on
its website, the commission
said it was making the
announcements well ahead “in
order to ensure certainty in our
dates for elections and to allow
for proper planning by the
commission, political parties,
security agencies, candidates
and all stakeholders.
“To that extent, the 2019
Presidential and National
Assembly elections will hold
on Saturday, 16th February
2019, while the Governorship/
State Assembly/Federal
Capital Territory Area Council
Elections will hold on Saturday
2nd March 2019”, the statement
read.
One of such stakeholders and
a Civil Society Organisation,
CSO is the Partners for Electoral
Reforms, PER. The body
called on INEC to commence
early voters’ education and
registration to ensure credible
elections in 2019. Chairman of
PER, Ezenwa Nwagwu made
the call during a roundtable
meeting with the theme:
“INEC and Voters Education:
Preparation for 2019 General
Elections” in Abuja.
According to Nwagwu, the
2019 general elections are
some months away and the
success of an election depends
on how much members of the
public understood democratic
principles and processes.
“A lot of Nigerians are
ignorant of the electoral
processes and act which
hinders them from exercising
their franchise. INEC should
carry out intense awareness to the grassroots and also
simplify the electoral act for
easy understanding,”he said.
While some have argued that
it was a bit early for the release
of election dates by the electoral
umpire. This school of thoughts
held the opinion that the action
of INEC was tantamount
to putting the cart before
the horse. However, others
insisted that the early release
of the dates will enable the
commission to be focused and
work towards a set objective.
But come to think of it, is
releasing the dates for the
election more important? Of
course, it is not. Obviously,
what is of critical importance
to stakeholders is for the
commission to tell the
electorates and indeed the
international community on
how far it has gone on its
voters’ registration, education
and sensitization. How far
has it been able to carry other
critical stakeholders such
as political parties, security
agencies, media, CSOs and
election observers along in fine
tuning the electoral process.
Without misgivings, these are
the fundamental aspects going
into any major elections.
Although, 24 months away to
the 2019 general elections was a
bit early, but not too early. While
INEC explained that the dates
will allow for proper planning,
the dates will only trigger
the political consciousness of
our politicians, who always
think and scheme for the next
election.
Now that the 2019 election
dates has been made official,
governance will soon be
abandoned at both the federal,
state and local government
in the act of collecting
gratification as well as aiding
and abating the buying and
selling of voters cards. For
instance, Section 23 (1) (a) (b)
and (c) of the Electoral Act
of 2010 outlaws the buying
and selling of voters cards.
Lo and behold, it is a fact that
INEC staff collude with some
party officials to perpetrate
these electoral malpractice.
No doubt, the INEC boss
has a huge task ahead of
him. Giving that all the rerun
elections and even main
elections he have so far
conducted, over 85 percent
of them were perceived to
be flawed and substantially
manipulated, thus resulting
in the elections been ruled as
inconclusive.
Again, it is the general
believe of stakeholdets that
INEC should scale up its
partnership with telecom
giants like MTN, GLO, Airtel
and Etisalat as well as CSOs
to enhance the country’s
electoral system.
Certainly, Prof Mamood
Yakubu as well as his national
and state commissioners will
not be accessed by the early
release of election dates, but
the level of credibility they
are able to bring on board.
level in the days and months to
come.
The current INEC under Prof.
Mamood Yakubu has a lot of
ground to cover going into the
poll. In the first place, it must
realise that the eyes of the
international community are
on the commission. Therefore,
it behooves on the electoral
umpire to start early to mobilise
human and material resources
for the much-awaited poll.
Secondly, it is not only
critical, but also crucial that
the commission should have
commenced voters’ registration
shortly after the 2015 general
elections. This is to avoid
disfranchising many eligible
voters who have attained the
voting rights of 18 years.
Moreover, the commission
has a lot of internal cleaning to
do as regards it staff that are in
the habit of compromising the
electoral process, especially in the act of collecting
gratification as well as aiding
and abating the buying and
selling of voters cards. For
instance, Section 23 (1) (a) (b)
and (c) of the Electoral Act
of 2010 outlaws the buying
and selling of voters cards.
Lo and behold, it is a fact that
INEC staff collude with some
party officials to perpetrate
these electoral malpractice.
No doubt, the INEC boss
has a huge task ahead of
him. Giving that all the rerun
elections and even main
elections he have so far
conducted, over 85 percent
of them were perceived to
be flawed and substantially
manipulated, thus resulting
in the elections been ruled as
inconclusive.
Again, it is the general
believe of stakeholdets that
INEC should scale up its
partnership with telecom
giants like MTN, GLO, Airtel
and Etisalat as well as CSOs
to enhance the country’s
electoral system.
Certainly, Prof Mamood
Yakubu as well as his national
and state commissioners will
not be accessed by the early
release of election dates, but
the level of credibility they
are able to bring on board.

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