“I believe INEC can still conduct credible election, if given a free hand, by being truly independent with no interference from government and other pressure groups.”
If you look at the name, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), what it means is that they are expected to be independent in their activities and not be dictated to. But unfortunately, the reverse is the case. It is obvious that the powers that be dictate to the present day INEC. They tell them when and where to cancel elections or declare them inconclusive, even if the election is adjudged to be free and fair by the observers. Today, many of the INEC officials are partisan politicians and have their own candidates. So, in such a situation, what do we expect? What happened in Ekiti State governorship election and the recent Osun State elections show that INEC is likely being compromised, so something serious needs to be done to check that. If they must deliver in the 2019 elections, they should look back and correct their mistakes. Otherwise, everything will be messed up. Moreover, the Election Tribunal should be fully on ground to ensure that any mistake by the INEC during the election is corrected. That will check further malpractices.
OLAYIWOLA ABIOLA MOSHOOD
With the look of things and what happened in Osun State recently, we could see that INEC is biased by not announcing the PDP candidate as the winner. But I believe that the whole world is watching. The Nigerian democracy is being threatened by the activities of INEC and the ruling party. So, we have totally lost faith in INEC. It is on this note I stand that INEC cannot conduct any free and fair elections. Take a good look at the election in Ekiti state, was it fairly conducted? It is too obvious the PDP won the election in Osun State because the seven polling units where rerun were likely to have been won by PDP and that was why they snatched ballot boxes there. This INEC that I know cannot be independent and it is not capable of conducting a free and fair election in 2019.
Economist/ Public Administrator
From the look of things, it is obvious that INEC will not conduct a free and fair election in 2019. Their body language has defined that they are under control. So, the best thing to do is to bring foreign observers to work with them. Most importantly, the foreign observers should be allowed to decide the pattern and method of conducting every election in 2019. That will go a long way in checkmating unfair practices.
I believe INEC is getting better in its conduct. Producing the right candidate is a different thing entirely. From what I have observed in the electoral body procedures, it has better relationship with the security agencies, exhibits more professionalism e.t.c. Also, we should not forget that this is the only electoral body on ground and will be saddled with the role of conducting election in 2019, so I believe INEC will be able to conduct the election. Whether it is going to be free and fair is subjective, as it depends on the prevailing situation, but from my own view, I think INEC is getting better in its practices as an unbiased umpire.
With its handling of recent elections, will INEC be able to conduct free and fair polls in 2019?
I believe INEC can still conduct credible election, if given a free hand, by being truly independent with no interference from government and other pressure groups. The recent menace of vote buying & selling should be avoided. As Nigerians who truly love our country, we should get our PVCs & make sure our votes count. Also, we should jettison the idea of collecting of money before voting, but vote candidates of our choice.
INEC, from all indications, is not ready and will not be able to conduct free and fair elections in 2019. I expect them to have worked on bringing in innovations by going to other countries to observe, pay for research, in order to have faithful and dedicated staff. Also, they need to look at the failures of the last administration and work on improving on them. I believe they have been compromised because from the recent elections, they have not delivered on good electoral process such as: late delivery of voting materials, use of in active card readers and no surveillance officers to report on each of the polling zones. They need to have a list to know the general population of the voters. This will help checkmate them and put all quarters in check. INEC has made the registration of new voters, the re-assigning of voters cards to be very difficult and frustrating. How come that INEC, with all the money budgeted for the 2019 elections could not have enough registration centres and staff, having in mind that many people go to work and return late? This is very sad and shows they have failed. If registration of voters can be so difficult, made inefficient and ineffective, how then will they conduct credible elections come 2019? Why can’t online be an easy option for this process? For a good delivery, Nigeria should introduce a new way of voting. Interswitch has a technology that can make voting very easy and simple, using the online approach. We can also have a system that allows people to vote from anywhere they are, without looking through the register that can be altered.
Journalist/ Social Commentator
The truth of the matter remains that since the end of Professor Attahiru Jega’s tenure as the substantive Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on July 30, 2015, the independence of the electoral umpire has come under severe suspicion. Before the coming of this current INEC boss, President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece, Amina Bala Zakari, became the Acting Chairman of INEC. Under her watch, inconclusive elections became the order of the day. This created a dent on INEC’s image and raised doubts on its capacity to conduct the 2019 general elections. Tied with the rampant inconclusive elections witnessed since 2015, together with issues of ineffective election card readers, logistics for INEC ad hoc staff and late arrival of voting materials, among other lapses, with the fact that the current chairman Mahmood Yakubu, hails from the North, just like President Buhari, I doubt the impartiality of INEC in the conduct of the 2019 elections. It has never been the case before. For me to trust the credibility of the 2019 election, President Buhari must purge this current INEC of a Northerner as a Chairman. Also, Buhari’s niece, Amina Zakari must be shown the exit door, as being the INEC Commissioner, Supervising Electoral Operations, and also in charge of Information Communication Technology Department. With these, there is enough empirical evidence that the 2019 elections will be skewed to favour President Buhari and his party.
Whether the INEC will conduct a free and fair election in 2019 depends on the electorate and politicians. The body was really set up as an independent body to conduct elections in Nigeria. But they have been denied their duty of being independent. We could see pressures on them beginning from the time aspirants start buying their forms to the time they go for the polls. For me, I am optimistic that they can conduct a free and fair election if given free hands and the necessary support they need.