With the country marching on to two decades of democratic practice, the general consensus is that the electoral commission, that is the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will have matured and be the impartial arbiter in Nigeria’s electoral process, but time and time again, this expectation has been dashed.
The litany of woes, though not wholly, of the INEC range from rigging, underage voting, ‘godfatherism’ and money politics, among many others. However, a new vice has been added to previously existing ones – jumping the gun – this time by the Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu-led commission.
The hope of many when Yakubu came on board is that besides upholding the law establishing and guiding the functions of the INEC, he will bring his personal integrity to bear, while always not kowtowing to some powers-that-be. But that belief is up in flames given how he has conducted himself concerning the primary election of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Zamfara State.
To say the least, what the INEC has done is jumping the gun even before the athletes had breasted the tape in the Zamfara APC race is shocking and a rape on the nation’s democratic journey.
It is something of a curiosity that even before the race was completed going by the INEC’s own timetable, the electoral commission had already taken a decision for a matter that was still in progress.
The INEC, though the electoral umpire, is not the final arbiter in electoral matters, so it should desist from the pedantic posturing that there will be no candidates for Zamafara State by the APC.
It should be stated that the party in Zamfara, aware of the looming deadline of October 8, concluded the primary election before the midnight of October 7 owing to the initial confusion cooked by the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
To this end, direct primary was held in the 14 local governments of the state and 147 wards with results duly collated and submitted to the party.
According to the results, Alhaji Muktar Idris won the governorship ticket while Yari was elected as the party’s senatorial candidate for Zamfara West, Sen. Tijjani Kaura for Zamfara North and Alhaji Ikira Bilbis for Zamfara Central.
So for the electoral commission to continue to insist that there was no primary election that produced candidates for next year’s general election remains a novelty which even civil society finds noxious and condemnable. One welcomes the intervention of the Coalition of Democratic Watchdog of Nigeria which has raised some posers for the INEC chairman to provide answers to.
According to the coalition, “1. Why was INEC headquarters, Abuja so much in a hurry to issue a statement even while the primaries was still ongoing?
“2. Could an election primaries that held in 140 wards but could not hold in 7 wards which later held on the 4th of October, 2018 be nullified and assumed to be marred with violence? What is the percentage of 7 to 140?
“3. Could election primaries witnessed, observed and signed by the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, 2 Assistant Inspectors General of Police, State Commissioner of Police, etc be assumed to be all violent prone or void?
“4. Is it possible that INEC is replicating a script written by some clandestine group in Abuja who are not in consonance with the outcome of the primaries?
“5. Could there be an external force muzzling INEC to do its bid against her constitutional role of neutrality and supposed independence?”
Furthermore, one also agrees with the Coalition of Democratic Watchdog of Nigeria that with the countdown to 2019 general elections, Nigerians are fast losing confidence in INEC daily and whether or not INEC still retains any iota of integrity to conduct credible election in 2019 is a billion dollar question.
It is also a given that the Zamfara APC quagmire is not wholly the making of the INEC but also the headstrong antics of the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.
Ordinarily, Oshiomhole should be referred to as a ‘comrade’, but his pranks concerning the APC primary in the state speaks to the contrary. He has demonstrated that he is Lord of the APC Manor rather than a servant-leader and for this reason, the party stands at the precipice of not fielding candidates in the 2019 elections if the court does not come to the aid of the party.
–Yaro writes from Abuja
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