The Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria has charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to tinker with the 2023 election timetable for governorship elections to come before Presidential election.
Recall that INEC had scheduled the Presidential election for February 25, 2023, while governorship and state assembly elections will hold on March 11, 2023.
However, addressing a world press conference in Abuja on Saturday, the Chairman of Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria, Comrade Adams Otakwu, said to avert potential constitutional and political crises that may arise from inconclusive presidential elections, there was need to alter the arrangement.
He explained that the 1999 general elections which ushered in the current democratic dispensation and the Fourth Republic, commenced with the State gubernatorial polls.
Comrade Otakwu said, “Political exigencies and enlightened self-interests, then led to the alteration of the status quo in the course of amending the Electoral Act”.
“Ever since, the Presidential and National Assembly polls have predated the gubernatorial elections, with no tangible benefits to the polity or governance. This arrangement is akin to building from the roof rather than a sound foundation since the federating States constitute the foundation of the nation.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the series of electoral reforms particularly over the past decade or so have progressively sanitized the electoral processes, with the innovation of technology to guarantee the credibility of the contests at all levels.
“There is however the pressing need to up the ante by tinkering with the election roster in favour of the guber polls and in so doing, consolidating democracy at the grassroots. The truism that politics is local, necessitates the readjustment of the current elections schedule to accurately reflect the true picture of the political tendencies.
“The 2023 Presidential election is for all intents and purposes, the most keenly contested, not only in this fourth republic but in the entire history of our great nation. As afore-stated, the ongoing evolution of free, fair and credible electoral processes and the deployment of information and communication technology (ICT) have plugged perennial loopholes that have been exploited by the political elites to rig all manner of elections from the immediate post-independence era till date.
“In the absence of the age-old rigmarole of ballot box snatching, ballot box stuffing, over inflation of voters’ registers and falsification of voting figures by violent means, it is most definitely not going to be business as usual, but business unusual.
“It is self-evident that the historical landslides and even moon slide hitherto ascribed many political gladiators arising from the flagrant violations of the electoral processes have, by and large, been stymied by the far-reaching and passionately patriotic amendments of the nation’s electoral code.
“In light of the impending close Presidential race, there is the pressing need to avert potential constitutional or political crises that may arise from inconclusive elections at that stage, and the consequent adverse impacts such a possibility will have on the conduct of subsequent polls.
“The surest way to nip this undesirable outcome in the bud is to set the electoral pace by the gubernatorial contests come February 2023, as opposed to the current schedule issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC which tees off with the Presidential polls.
“INEC is empowered by law to make relevant regulations in pursuance of its mandates and this proposed schedule is well within the ambits of its functions and powers encapsulated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“The adjustments shall in no way hinder INEC’s momentum, since it is a simple case of substituting one election with another, as opposed to the vexed substitution of candidates arising from pre-election litigations.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to do the needful by effecting this relevant adjustment immediately. We equally enjoin all true democrats to stand up and be counted in support of this people-oriented call to review the sequence of the 2023 elections”.