The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, says given the challenges and malpractices that have marred elections both in the past and in recent times in the country, the commission cannot guarantee that the general elections in 2019 will be conclusive.
He said any attempt to give such assurance at this time would be second-guessing the outcome of the election, noting that it had become inevitable for the commission to declare some elections inconclusive.
The INEC boss, who spoke on Friday, stated that if everyone, including the staff of the commission, the voters, politicians and other stakeholders, play by the rules, there would be no inconclusive election.
He said, “We can’t second-guess to say this is the outcome of an election before it happens, unless we are not conducting elections. We hope it won’t lead to that, but if it happens, the constitution has a way out of it.
“There is no way the commission will declare any election conclusive where the threshold is not met. We can only declare an election conclusive when we are satisfied with the law and electoral act because all elections are governed by constitutional provisions, provisions of the electoral act and our guidelines. This is the challenge that we face, but we must express it because we (INEC) will not compromise.
“The constitution of this country provides condition for making return in an election. If that threshold is not met, can INEC make a declaration? We can’t, under the law, and if you do so the court will nullify the election and then we incur costs to do the election again.
“As to what will happen in 2019, only God knows, but we will abide by the provisions of the constitution, the electoral law and our guidelines in making declarations. We can only hope for the best.”
The INEC chairman, who spoke extensively while responding to questions on the inconclusive elections conducted by the commission, explained that majority of the 137 elections conducted by the commission in the past eight months were conclusive, dismissing insinuations that the commission had been organising inconclusive elections.
He explained that people had been used to conclusive elections on first ballot, pointing out that the political terrain has changed completely. He added that most of the elections were a product of the 2015 general elections and that there were no less than 680 court cases emanating from the 2015 general elections.