Nigerians Await Quick Resolution on Sequence of 2019 Election

Nigerians Await Quick Resolution on Sequence of 2019 Election

Nigerians are anxiously waiting for a quick resolution of the controversy trailing the reordering of the sequence of the 2019 general elections. The two chambers of the National Assembly last week adopted a report of its joint committee on Electoral Matters which amended section 25 of the Electoral Act and altered the sequence of the

Nigerians are anxiously waiting for a quick resolution of the controversy trailing the reordering of the sequence of the 2019 general elections.

The two chambers of the National Assembly last week adopted a report of its joint committee on Electoral Matters which amended section 25 of the Electoral Act and altered the sequence of the 2019 general election as proposed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In its time-table, INEC had put the Presidential and National Assembly Election first followed by States Houses of Assembly and Governorship.

The National Assembly on the contrary separated the presidential election from that of the National Assembly. The National Assembly’s preference is that election into its two chambers should come first, followed by the States Houses of Assembly and Governorship with the Presidential election taking the rear.

The amendment to the Electoral Act, like all other bills, is expected to be sent to the President for his assent. But, appending his signature to the Act would depend on how the Presidency perceives the motive behind the amendment. If it is perceived as capable of hurting the President’s interest, his assent may be withheld but if not, he may sign it.

If the President failed to sign and the Act is returned to the National Assembly, both chambers would require two-thirds majority to override the President’s veto in order to make the Act operational. How easy this could be would be determined by how the members of the National Assembly, corporately, interpret whether the INEC’s sequence would hurt their interests and aspirations to return to the National Assembly.

Different opinions have been canvassed on whether the National Assembly has the power to alter INEC’s election sequence or not because it has the constitutional power to conduct elections in Nigeria. Suggestions are being made to the Electoral body to seek judicial interpretation on this matter.

According the Mr. Festus Keyamo, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the National Assembly lacks the power to fix order of election for the INEC because the constitution gives Electoral Commission the powers to ‘organise and undertake’ election conduct in Nigeria.

Speaking on a television programme monitored in Lagos, the Legal Practitioner said if, he were to advise the President, he would ask him not to give his assent to the Act. In his view, some of the National Assembly members may want the outcome of their election to have an impact on the presidential election;that is why they want their election first.

On the contrary, the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group supports the re-ordering of sequence by the National Assembly, describing it as a positive development which will allow participatory democracy.

According to Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary Mr. Yinka Odumakin, ‘the election time-table as reordered by the National Assembly is similar sequence used in 1979 and it would help to reveal the strength of each political party unlike the bandwagon effect of holding the Presidential election first.

Some political parties have expressed support for the National Assembly’s reordering because they feel it will help to prevent a situation whereby any Party that wins the presidency would capitalise on that victory to arm-twist the electorate into voting that Party in the subsequent elections.

Other political commentators have blamed procedural error on the part on INEC for the controversy that has trailed its announcement of sequence of election. According to Dr. Yinusa Tanko of the National Conscience Party, the INEC did not hold its usual consultative meeting with the political parties before making its announcement.

Many Nigerians are waiting for the final resolution of this matter to enable all stakeholders put necessary machineries for a successful election in place. The INEC had, however, earlier announced that Presidential election would take place on February 16, 2019.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun
ADMINISTRATOR
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