7th March, 2018
BILL REORDERING ELECTION SEQUENCE IS BELATED
The Nigerian National Assembly (NASS) recently reordered the election sequence which has been in operation in the country since 1999. In the new bill, NASS wants the national exercise which has always started with the presidential election, to start with elections into the NASS.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) roundly rejects the proposed amendment of election sequence. It is belated, parochial, myopic, self-seeking, extravagant and unpatriotic. The bill is an attempt to usurp functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and intimidate the electoral body. Reordering is a threat to democracy. It is a bill from hell. Mr. President should withhold his signature.
By seeking to kick-start the elections with that of the NASS, Nigeria’s lawmakers have demonstrated their intention to call attention to themselves. They are therefore more interested in benefiting themselves instead of benefiting the country. At a time the country is reeling under a harsh economic situation, a proposal which extends the election from two-phases to three phases and adds an extra cost amounting to a whopping two billion naira is nothing short of a manifestation of a prodigal son mentality.
Nigerians should think about what this extra N2 billion can do for the country. The Federal Government recently confirmed that it pumped N2 billion into the second Niger Bridge. It has been observed that Nigerians spend three out of every ten years in traffic. Now, instead of wasting more money on changing the election sequence, why can’t we spend that N2 billion on building at least one pedestrian bridge in every Nigerian state capital? It will bring huge relief to road users and extend the life span of the average Nigerian. Unfortunately Nigerian lawmakers are only thinking of themselves.
INEC released the election timetable on 9th January. Coming long after INEC had released the election time table, the proposed change in election sequence is bound to throw up logistic complications for INEC. Logistics is central to elections. Planning must be done with microscopic accuracy. Every little detail matters. Again, INEC should have been consulted before proposing the bill but our lawmakers failed to do that. The proposal should have come twelve months earlier, long before INEC released its own timetable. Why did the NASS wait for so long? Is there a hidden agenda?
Who do we blame if more hitches surface during elections? Can we hang it on the same INEC which has rejected proposed change? Already, INEC has warned that a poorly planned election is an invitation to chaos. Nigeria will become the laughing stock of the whole world if that should happen. This bill must therefore be seen as the handiwork of confusionists and anarchists.
It must also be noted that the proposed reordering of election sequence violates the letter and spirit of the Electoral Act which gives INEC the sole power to organize elections and fix dates.
In conclusion, we call on President Buhari to reject the bill on the grounds that it is belated, illegal, wasteful, illogical and capable of worsening electoral tension. Reordering the election sequence is also a threat to democracy and an attempt to undermine the independence of INEC.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)