- With only 2 National Commissioners, INEC can’t hold meetings for lack of quorum
Except immediate and urgent steps are taken, the upcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states could be stalled, following the inability of Independent Electoral Commission, INEC hierarchy to form quorum necessary for vital decisions on the conduct of the proposed polls to be taken.
Kogi election has been scheduled for November 21
while the Bayelsa poll will hold on December 5, amid festering tension between the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC contenders and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP stakeholders.
The two states were among six others that did not participate in the April 11 governorship polls, which took place across the country due to staggered polls conducted in the respective states earlier.
Investigations by Nigerian Pilot revealed that, as yet, no far reaching decision has been made by the nation’s electoral body, INEC, barely two months to the Kogi gubernatorial elections.
Further enquiries also showed that, the present dilemma and tension is heightened by the absence of the required number of National Commissioners presently with the Commission, following the resignation of senior officials between June and August this year.
At the moment, only two National Commissioners out of the needed 12 are still serving in the Commission; as on June 30 this year, about six of them representing the various geo-political zones of the country mandatorily retired along with the then INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega.
It was learnt that their resignation was followed by another four of their colleagues, who equally bowed out on July 12 and August 11, bringing the number of those that have left the Commission to 10. One of them, Mrs. Aminu Zakari, who is currently acting as INEC boss however remained after President Muhammadu Buhari endorsed her mandate.
Interestingly, Hajia Zakari’s stay beyond July 12 has generated a barrage of reactions from interest groups, politicians and professionals who questioned her eligibility to continue in office as INEC boss after her retirement.
Nigerian Pilot also recalled that since her appointment into the country’s revered office more than two months ago, activities at the commission have been at the lowest ebb, especially in the states where elections are expected to take place few weeks ahead.
Many are of the view that due to shortage in high ranking workforce of the Commission, carrying out adequate regulations that should guarantee free, fair and credible elections in Kogi and Bayelsa is seriously in doubt, even as forming a quorum to enable them take vital decisions on the sensitive polls is even of critical concern to the electoral umpire.
Part Eight, No. Four and Five of the Act establishing INEC states; “The quorum for meetings of the Commission shall be eight.
“Questions put before the Commission at a meeting shall be decided by consensus and, where this is not possible, by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting.”
Among the functions of INEC as enshrined in the Act establishing the nation’s electoral body include, “monitoring political campaigns and providing rules and regulations which shall govern the political parties.”
As political activities heighten in both Kogi and Bayelsa with various political parties already organizing their primary elections, it remains to be seen when the presidency will wake up and do the needful.