Fresh Controversy Over 2023 Election Schedule

buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

The 2023 election timetable announced by Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday, has begun to generate serious controversies across all sectors, particularly in political and economic segments.

The economic implications of the pronouncement have been of great concern, considering the current position of the economy which is on the precipice.

President Muhammadu too is said to be under pressure over the announcement as it came to him suddenly.

Political analysts are wor­ried that the timetable could heighten the tempo of poli­ticking, backroom dealing and horse-trading while actual governance may take the backstage.

They are also of the opinion that an order in which the presidential election comes first may confer an undue advantage on the incumbent party and upset the outcome of future elections.

Yakubu, on Thursday, said Nigeria was 855 days away from the 2023 general elections.

Yakubu, at the inauguration of the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review, urged the National Assembly to work fast on the exercise, ahead of the polls, saying the 2023 presidential election is scheduled to hold on February 18, 2023.

Timetable Curious, Says Teniola

A veteran journalist, Mr. Eric Teniola, said the announcement was curious, pointing out that it was the first time Nigerians have been given 855 days’ notice for a presidential election.

He added that the declaration came 26 days before Yaku­bu’s tenure as Chairman of INEC terminates.

Teniola, a retired director from the presidency, explained further that “One would have expected that the INEC Chairman announce the dates for the gubernatorial elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States slated for next year and 2022. I am a bit prying and nosy at the timing of the announcement of the date of the presi­dential election. I am sure crit­ics of Professor Yakubu will think that the announcement is a campaign alert of his readiness to be given an opportuni­ty to be reappointed and that he is flying a kite having been intoxicated by INEC’s so called success in Edo and Ondo gu­bernatorial elections.”

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According to him “It’s like the Bauchi born Professor is throwing bits of bait into the waters for the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari. No doubt he is qualified for reappointment, he is fifty-eight. He has served as the Executive Secretary at the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) (2007-2012) and also served as the Assis­tant Secretary of Finance and Administration of the 2014 Na­tional Conference of President Goodluck Jonathan.

“If you push your luck too far, you may risk losing the good favour and the good for­tune you have garnered thus far. That is the simple lesson about life.

“It is the constitutional responsibility of President Mu­hammadu Buhari, to consult the National Council of State before submitting a name to the Senate for confirmation as Chairman of INEC. The President may choose to nomi­nate any other person entirely. It is up to President Buhari. I am sure the President will be under pressure on this issue now. Whoever the President chooses is expected to conduct the Anambra, Osun and Ekiti States gubernatorial elections and the 2023 presidential elec­tion of February 18, 2023.”

PDP Yet To Take Decision – Olog­bondiyan

Although Mr. Kola Olog­bondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), told Sunday Independent that the party was still studying the situation, Mr. Fatai Adams, chairman of the PDP in Ondo State, argued that he doesn’t believe the ear­ly release of the 2023 election schedule would undermine governance.

He said “I don’t believe the early announcement of the election schedule would cause distraction. It’s not everybody in public office that would be contesting election. Even in advanced countries, there are situations you know the date of the election four years before the election.

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“It only gives room for enough preparation. INEC would not have any excuse of not having enough time to pre­pare for the election. All partic­ipating political parties would have enough time to prepare themselves for the election.

“It is a welcome develop­ment and if managed very well, it would enhance our democracy.”

Speaking on the Justice Uwais Panel’s recommen­dation that all the elections should hold same day, the PDP state chairman declared that he would not subscribe to the recommendation.

He said: “As far as I am con­cerned, I don’t support such recommendation. It does not allow the electorate to assess the integrity, capability and competence of other candi­dates. You will just realise that it’s a matter of this is my presi­dential candidate and they will vote along that line which is not supposed to be.

“So, let everybody contest based on his integrity, com­petence, capability and man­ifesto.”

On whether APC has a hid­den agenda by allowing INEC release the election schedule so early and Mr. President nominating his aide as INEC commissioner, Adams said it ran afoul of the dictate of the constitution which says an INEC commissioner must be an apolitical personality.

He said: “The issue of Mr. President nominating one of his aides as INEC commission­er is unacceptable. If you look at the rules and regulations that guide the appointment of electoral commissioners, he must be an apolitical person. Someone who does not belong to any political party.

“As far as the issue of an­nouncing timetable, I don’t see anything wrong in it. What matters most is for the INEC to behave as unbiased umpire, re­main neutral and prepare level playing field for everybody so that they are not dictated to by anybody. Once they do that, it is good for our democracy.”

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Let’s Wait And See – Experts

Wale Ogunade, a legal practitioner, also commend­ed INEC for rolling out its timetable, saying it is a good thing. “I don’t see anything bad in it. Rather than casti­gating it, I think we should applaud them. Informing us that the election will hold on February 18, 2023 means that all those who would be inter­ested should start their work.

“Even before the INEC roll out the time table several notable people have been pol­iticking, they are busy going round and some are saying the presidency should go to the South, some are saying it should remain in the North, some are saying it should go to the Middle Belt. Apart from that there is a lot going on and we can be sure that it is good for democracy because every­body will be busy in one way or the other in the electoral process.

“I don’t think the timetable coming out now falls in favour of any political party not APC, not PDP. It would rather let them know that they have a lot to do. Telling us that the timetable is early and is in the favour of the APC, rather than that, it is even against them because they know that their days are numbered.”

On the conduct of all elections in a day, Ogunade stressed that “If it is done one day it will cause confusion and stress, so I prefer the way it is staggered. It is better we stagger it so that there won’t be confusion or disturbance on the day.”

What are your thoughts?

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