Is INEC’s early release of 2019 elections timetable appropriate?

For me, what the Independent National Electoral Commission has done is commendable. This is because INEC has given all political parties at least two years to prepare for the 2019 general elections.

Again, it is not only about preparations. Secondly, INEC has also, by the release of the Presidential and National Assembly elections time-table, spurned itself to action to prepare and do a good job in 2019.

Thirdly, INEC has always been financed by the government and they know they have to prepare within the resources available to them. They have to make do with the resources promptly allocated to them.

One of the problems of our past elections in Nigeria is the unavailability of funds to prosecute the elections or that INEC did not get the funds on time. I think this will not resurface in 2019.

Therefore, this is an improvement on the conduct of elections in Nigeria by INEC. I cannot understand why some people are criticising INEC. What is the meaning of excuses that such timetable will heat up the polity? When is the polity not heat up?

I believe that the publication of the timetable will lead us to free and fair elections in 2019. It is also not true that the INEC timetable will distract. Political office holders are already distracted and it is not the INEC timetable that will distract them. What the INEC has done is to ensure that 2019 does not have the negative colorations that past elections have had in this country. •Alhaji Balarabe Musa (Former governor, old Kaduna State)

It is very appropriate that the Independent National Electoral Commission released the timetable for the 2019 general elections two years before the time. If you recall, in the 2016 governorship election in Edo State, there was a clash of timetable with the West African Examination Council’s Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. This generated furore among parents, students, INEC and WAEC before it was resolved and the election was postponed.

Now that the timetable is released two years early, it will help all organs of government planning annual or quarterly events; to adjust their programme to suit the election. It is beneficial for all of us. In the US, dates for elections are known ahead of time. Everybody knows the time for the next election; it is good for planning for business people and politicians. It is a welcome development for Nigeria. It is long overdue. This will also help security agencies to plan ahead for their logistics and manpower. They will be better prepared. Those planning for wedding, burial or other ceremonies will also be aware ahead of time. So, kudos to INEC. •Jagun Adesua, (An Ekiti State APC governorship hopeful)

The release of the 2019 elections timetable by INEC is justified. That is the practice in many countries of the world. You know that in many democracies around the world, every four years, on a specific date/day, elections will take place.  I give you examples with Ghana and the United States of America.  Ghana is becoming established in this area. That of the United States is known all over the world that the Presidential Election is held on the first Tuesday of November every four years. What INEC has done is commendable because it will help political parties prepare better, it will also help INEC sort out most of its funding issues ahead of time. On the whole, the Nigerian electoral system is the better for it. •Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam (National Chairman, Labour Party)

I think INEC should start by way of addressing issues that are within the commission first. What we expect is a review of all the elections we have had before they bring out a timetable. You will agree that there are still pending election issues within the purview of INEC.

The only election that was not contested was that of the President. I think the INEC should not dabble into timetable issues now. The INEC should have rather gone about a post-election survey so that citizens and experts can advise them and suggest ways to make the election process work better.

Now, you will agree that even the composition of INEC is presently weak. The state commissioners and officers are yet to be appointed and posted. Instead of playing to the gallery, INEC should sit down and consider restructuring. I am a proponent of restructuring Nigeria.

We cannot run an INEC where there are allegations of corruption; these are people that we rely on to give us free and fair elections. Some of them have been found to be collecting bribes and undermining the integrity of citizens. I believe in the restructuring of INEC. Nigeria needs restructuring and we should have that in INEC too.

Elections are always there and what we should be seeing now is a post-election review. The last set of elections is not even up to two years old and we have to evaluate where we got it wrong so that we will not repeat the same mistakes. We should be thinking of a post-review now. •Usman Abdul (President, Campaign for Democracy)

I think the Commission is getting very proactive. If you remember, one of the togas that INEC bears is the toga of unpreparedness and for the first time, you are seeing an INEC that seems to have shaken off that toga by first concluding its strategic planning for the 2019 elections as early as 2017. Part of the challenges of our elections is that, people don’t know when they will hold. We always create emergencies and these emergencies create tension that has now been removed. The political parties can now begin to walk around internal party democracy issues knowing clearly what the timetable for elections is. The judiciary can then help to sort out all the internal party litigation brought before it; so that you don’t have a repeat of the situation in Ondo State. Now, everybody is aware so you don’t go around saying “I didn’t know when the elections will hold” and cases continue to linger in court. Between now and 2018, we expect that internal party issues will be resolved; that is one big basic thing. For me, stakeholders are better for it because planning is easier. Even for civil society organisations and donor agencies, planning is earlier and better when you are certain. But the big issue around that time table is that INEC is not the only player that now determines dates for elections. Edo comes to mind; the security agencies played a very challenging role in fixing the dates for the election. In 2015, we saw the then National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) also obstructing the original dates for the 2015 elections. What it means is that having brought out this timetable, INEC will begin to engage robustly different stakeholders around these dates to remove the bottlenecks and constraints that may arise. It is good. Politicians may worry about it because it may task their fire brigade approach to things, and it means that they will have to now engage with the electorate even though informally. That, in itself, is a good thing for our democracy. • Ezenwa Nwagwu, (Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reforms)

It is a good decision. For most politicians, this will prepare grounds for us to begin to engage in wide consultations regarding political decisions. Those of us in the PDP have also been put on notice that this is the much time we have to put our acts together to begin our bid to come back. INEC too stands to benefit from this decision because it will begin adequate preparations in terms of training of its staff and other logistics. It is a win- win situation for all stakeholders if we don’t have a repeat of “security reports” which will force INEC to change its timetable.  •Abdullahi Jalo (A former PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary)

  • Compiled by: Compiled by: John Alechenu, Kamarudeen Ogundele and Olaleye Aluko

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Source: Punch

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