The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said on Tuesday that a presidential run-off would have led to a crisis in the country.
His first public comment was on the March 28 and April elections, predicating his assertion on what he called many lacunas in the amended Electoral Act. He suggested during an interview with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room in Abuja, an amendment to the electoral law since it provides for only seven days after the first election to hold a run-off.
He said the succeeding administration of Muhammadu Buhari should not wait till 2019 general elections before reviewing the Electoral Act. Jega disclosed that he was happy when the March 28 presidential poll produced a clear winner. He said there was no way that INEC could have successfully conducted a run-off election within seven days as provided for in both the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act.
The INEC boss said, “I heaved a heavy sigh of relief when the election did not result to a run-off. That would have occasioned a big constitutional crisis. “This is in view of the fact that the 1999 Constitution only made provision for seven days for such poll. You and I know that there was no way we would have been able to conduct a run-off within seven days”
The INEC boss revealed that there would be electoral reforms to strike a balance between decentralising and centralising the powers of the commission at the national headquarters.
He explained, “In future reforms to electoral legal framework this issue has to be looked at carefully. It’s a delicate balance: you have to balance whether you will give the chairman of INEC or the INEC at the headquarters a lot of powers which may be abused or whether you will want to localise the powers which may also be abused. So, it’s a tricky balance and the balance has to be struck.