Aborting Anambra election would have threatened Nigeria’s Stability, survival – INEC




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By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the consequences of aborting the Anambra election would have been a serious constitutional crisis and political uncertainty that could have further threatened Nigeria’s stability and survival.

The INEC’s Supervising National Commissioner for Anambra state, Barr. Festus Okoye stated this on Friday at Awka during the presentation of Certificates of Return (CoR) to the Governor and Deputy Governor elect of the state for the just concluded governorship election.

Okoye stated this against the backdrop of the difficult circumstances under which the election was conducted – including but not limited to fear, anxiety and uncertainty occasioned by political agitation in the southeast geopolitical zone.

He assured that the Commission will audit the conduct of this election in line with it’s tradition after every major election in order to reflect on things that worked well and those that failed to work as desired; and use the lessons learned in the preparation for the next set of elections.

The National Commissioner informed that the presentation of Certificates of Return to the Governor and Deputy Governor elect is in compliance with section 75 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which mandates the Commission to issue a Certificate of Return to the Governor and Deputy Governor elect of Anambra State signifying the fact that they won the just concluded 2021 Anambra State governorship election and satisfied the constitutional and legal requirements in section 179 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended).

He therefore reminded that the “tenure of the incumbent Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, will expire on 17th March 2022. The implication is that the Governor and Deputy Governor elect will not assume office immediately. They must wait for the incumbent Governor and his Deputy to complete their four year tenure before they can be sworn in”.

In his words, “As you know, the tenure of the incumbent Governor of Anambra State will expire on 17th March 2022. The implication is that the Governor and Deputy Governor elect will not assume office immediately. They must wait for the incumbent Governor and his Deputy to complete their four year tenure before they can be sworn in.

“There is no doubt that the Commission conducted the 6th and 9th November 2021 Governorship election in difficult circumstances. Indeed, the election was conducted in a challenging environment accentuated by fear, anxiety and uncertainty occasioned by political agitation in the southeast geopolitical zone. As we all know, agitations of this kind occurs often in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural political settings where identities are politically mobilized in the struggle for power and resources and sometimes in the desire for a just and equitable society.”

“The significant point to note, however, is that the Commission has remained firm and resolute in proceeding with the election based on its understanding of section 178 of the Constitution which circumscribed the conduct of elections within a firm and immovable constitutional compass. The consequences of aborting the election would have been a serious constitutional crisis and political uncertainty that could have further threatened Nigeria’s stability and survival.

Against this backdrop, the fact that we are here today making this presentation after an election that has been widely acclaimed as meeting regional standards of free and fair election is a clear affirmation that Nigerians and the citizens of Anambra State in particular believe in democracy, not only as a means of addressing the numerous development challenges, but also a framework for the resolution of the multifarious dimensions of the National Question.

“The Commission will audit the conduct of this election as it is the tradition after every major election in order to reflect on things that worked well and those that failed to work as desired; and use the lessons learned in the preparation for the next set of elections. It is in this regard and the benefits offered by the Electoral Cycle Approach adopted by the Commission that we now believe that the present trends of conducting elections imbued with integrity has become irreversible.

“With specific reference to genuine concerns expressed by citizens on the performance of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the February 6, 2021 Anambra governorship election, the Commission wishes to state categorically that it stands to benefit from such criticisms and promises that these challenges will be addressed as was evident in the improved functionality of the BVAS in the supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area.

“We are confident in our judgment that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System will remain a fundamental feature of our accreditation process as it will consign into the dustbin of history worrisome incidents of multiple voting and identity theft that in the past denied the country’s electoral process the desired public trust and confidence. On this note, the Commission will continue to improve on and perfect the technology for subsequent and future elections.

He therefore commended the doggedness, resilience and courage of INEC permanent and ad-hoc staff that defied all the odds and grave dangers to personal life and safety to traverse the entire terrain of Anambra State to conduct the election.

Barr Okoye thanked the security agencies that remained firm and professional in supporting INEC throughout the election period and beyond; and the media for the extensive coverage of the election.

More fundamentally, he thanked the people of Anambra State for their firm belief in democracy. Adding that, Ndi Anambra understood the sovereign right imbedded in the vote and elevated the value and quality of the vote through vigilance and mandate protection.

He also expressed appreciation for the sacrifices made by the National and Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Commission, (seven of them), that assisted the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Anambra State in the conduct of the election.

Barr. Okoye further thanked the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and the National Commissioners of the Commission for unwavering commitment to clean elections anchored on technology.