Gov Elections: INEC Can Do Better- NBA President
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau, says he believes that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can perform better in the March 18 governorship and state assembly elections than it did in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
The electoral body has faced criticisms from different quarters following the conduct of the presidential elections which experienced some hitches including failure to upload polling unit results electronically in real time as promised by the commission before the polls.
However, Maikyau, on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, said INEC has learnt some lessons from the last election and are poised to do better on Saturday.
“I will talk about my expectations. I still believe that INEC can do more or better than what it did in the last election held on the 25 and I can say so because I am also an observer. I went around the Federal Capital Territory and before then, Thursday before the election on 25 of February 2023, we did not see the sort of deployment of electoral materials like we have seen this time around preceding the March 18 for the governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
“So, what that tells me is that whatever lapses that we saw on the election held on the 25, INEC is deliberately doing what it needs to do to deal with those issues. That is why in the prelude to this our conversation we saw how election materials are being distributed to several places across the country which we didn’t see before the 25 of February.
“So, I believe that INEC has learnt some lessons from the last elections and that they are taking steps to correct some of those things,” Maikyau said.
He stated that the NBA was an accredited observer of the elections and that the NBA has 128 branches and deployed over 1000 members who observed the elections.
“There was a delay in deployment of material and personnel to their respective polling units. Some local government did not even see any of the polling materials until the following day which is the 26th and that caused a lot of agitation and suspicion in the mind of the people… the delay in the supply of the materials heightened the suspicion of whether the elections will hold or not”
On the impact of the BVAS during the course of the elections; the NBA Helmsman stated some of the electoral infractions that occurred during the elections was because people do not understand the changes that have come on board. That the dissatisfaction that has come as a result of the elections was because of INEC failure to instantaneously upload the results to their own data bank, which was promised by INEC.
On the compliance level of INEC with regards the usage of the IReV portals and the BVAS as INEC had claimed
He asked that he should be excused from giving legal opinions with regards to the matter as there are matters already pending in court. However, he said that the issue of authenticity and validity of a process must be taken in the context of what an institution needs to do in carrying the public along. He reinstated that whatever INEC had to do in compliance with the law must not only be done in compliance of the law but the public must also be carried along so as to gain their trust.
He further stated that: “I still believe that INEC can do more or better than what it did in the last elections”. He emphasized that as an observer in the elections he has seen that INEC is deliberately taking steps to avoid the lapses that happened in the general elections.
On the positives of the Elections
He stated that there were a lot of positives from the last elections and that the arrogance of political parties to determine who will win the elections. Many Governors, he said, lost their elections and states to opposition parties. These were things that were not heard of. He further urged Nigerians to come out and vote based on the progress recorded. According to him:
“I am one person who believes that we make progress steadily, it may be slow, but once we make any progress, we should be able to acknowledge it; appreciate it; and build on it. And I think that we have made a lot of progress from the elections held on the 25th of February 2023 and that should actually energize Nigerians to come out and vote in the elections coming up on Saturday. This is a big task that only us Nigerians, individually and collectively, can perform.”
Drawing from his preceding statement, he was asked if he saw the possibility of eight electoral parties having a seat in the National Assembly. Mr. Maikyau stated that he never saw it “…that was quite revolutionary” he had said.
“I cannot close my eyes to the positives we get from the elections on the basis of my emotions. It is not about me, it is not about a few people; it is about all of us in this country. The interest of this country is bigger than the interest of a few political parties or any individual.”
He added that what Nigerians need at the end of the day is justice and that every individual who won the election should give that to Nigerians. He urged those who are unhappy to come out and exercise their franchise.
On the issue of the political class
Mr. Maikyau said that the days of impunity are long gone and it is time to recognize that Nigerians make independent choices as to who they choose. He further stated that political parties must be people driven.
On the Naira redesign
He stated that the judgment of the Supreme Court resonated with the letter the Nigerian Bar Association had written to the Governor of the Central Bank. He further stated that the NBA played its role in guiding the public and that it will do come 18th of March for the Governorship elections.
On Money Politics
He established that the Naira redesign and money scarcity showed that politicians now have to reconsider other yardsticks like what they have done for the people and so on before reconsidering elections. Money politics is corruption, he had said, but it is clear that you can not use money to determine the outcome of an election in Nigeria. He affirmed the fact that “hire and fire” politics is now emerging.
“Peter Obi came with the momentum that has never been seen in elections before” he said. All participants in the elections must be commended. So many people rode on the momentum brought by these electoral participants.
On his biggest fear for the elections.
Mr. Maikyau said he would not call it fear but an admonition that people should come out and participate in this business of elections. That people should take the positives of the elections and vote on election day. He further added that his advice for INEC ahead of the elections should be that; INEC should deploy materials on time; that INEC should do anything to maintain the confidence of the public and also, INEC should take steps to prosecute those who tried disrupting the process.