Political Parties, Others Want All Elections Held In 1 Day

National-Assembly

As the National Assembly resumes plenary to debate amendment to the Electoral Act, political parties and other stakeholders have called for the conduct of all elections in one day on grounds that it would save cost for the country.

The Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) said conducting elections in one day was feasible and doable the way it is done in other developing.

The acting national president of IPAC, Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, who spoke with LEADERSHIP, lamented the enormous resources and time wasted in organising staggered elections.

He added that unified elections will address the unnecessary challenge of huge spending and the needless grounding of businesses during multiple elections.

As the National Assembly resumes plenary to debate amendment to the Electoral Act, political parties and other stakeholders have called for the conduct of all elections in one day on grounds that it would save cost for the country.

The Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) said conducting elections in one day was feasible and doable the way it is done in other developing.

The acting national president of IPAC, Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, who spoke with LEADERSHIP, lamented the enormous resources and time wasted in organising staggered elections.

He added that unified elections will address the unnecessary challenge of huge spending and the needless grounding of businesses during multiple elections.

Nwosu who is also the national chairman of African Democratic Congress (ADC) further added that it would eliminate the bandwagon effect of the party in power as well as tame the desperation by politicians to manipulate polls.

He said, “Holding elections in one day will be the best thing to happen to this country. We should have the election in one day, it’s very feasible and doable, and if other developing countries can do it why not Nigeria? INEC should be more disciplined and organized. It is feasible and it is the best thing for our democracy. It is unheard of to hold two or three elections in a year. We are closing shops, making businesses to stand still just for elections.

“Nigerians will go to the poll to vote for the president, governor and members of the National and State Assemblies. At times when we manipulate the election, the outcome shows desperation. Holding Nigeria’s election in one day will help Nigeria to grow.”

On the debate on card readers, the IPAC chieftain raised concerns over the number of cases on its use during election.

He said, “As a major stakeholder in the issue the way the National Assembly is discussing it shows a critical stakeholders debate. The National Assembly members want a situation where they will legislate based on their interest. We need to look at how successful it had been, how many court cases we have, how many times we abandoned card readers half way in elections.

“Do we have all the data? INEC has to supply the data. I am aware that there are a lot of court cases. In most cases the card readers are banned. If it is not working well, why are we legislating on it?”

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In same vein, the leadership of the National Consultative Front (NCFront) has called for a one-off election for presidential, governorship and National Assembly election to save cost.

The NCFront however stated that to eradicate political nomadism, any political office holder who defects to another party should lose his/her seat.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Abuja, the spokesperson of the group, Dr Tanko Yunusa, said a one-off election will make the leadership of the National Assembly not to be a rubber stamp.

He said, “We support the idea of a one-off election because it saves a lot of costs. And the only area which I am suggesting for staggered election is, for instance, if the presidential and governorship election is done in February in the year of 2020 that of the National Assembly should be done in 2022.

“This means that the National Assembly and Senate election can take place as a one-off to reduce the heavy cost of electioneering.

“So within the four-year tenure of the president, there’s an opportunity for a change of guard within the National Assembly within two years. That would give room for a competition just like what’s happening in the United States.

“Also, they would not be a rubber-stamp National Assembly just the way we have now knowing fully well that they have a one-year tenure more or less like a four-year tenure together with Mr President.

“So, we support that the presidential and governorship election should be done once while the election for the National Assembly and House of Representatives should be staggered within a space of two years.”

On the Electoral Act amendment, he said the NCFront has been advocating seriously the eradication of what he called political nomadism.

“When you contest an election under a political party and you want to change a party then such an office holder should lose his seat then contest another election under a new party.”

Also, the Young Progressives Party (YPP) has said the electronic transmission of election results will drastically reduce electoral fraud.

The national publicity secretary of the party, Mr Wale Martins said this experiment took place in Edo and Ondo States, which gave a level of credibility to the results in both states.

He said if this process is not legalised by the Act of the National Assembly, it would leave a gap that may be selfishly exploited by politicians for selfish reasons.

“The stance of the Young Progressives Party on the legalisation of the card reader and electronic transmission of election results from the polling units is unambiguous as it will drastically reduce, if not completely eliminate, electoral fraud, especially the manipulation of election results before the final collation,” he added.

On its part, Labour Party (LP) has called for granting of autonomy to local government councils and the abolition of state independent electoral commission thereby authorising INEC to conduct local council polls.

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The party added that any electoral amendment that fails to include these issues is designed to serve the interest of the political elite and not the entirety of Nigerians.

The national secretary of Labour Party, Barr Julius Abure, who made the position of the party known, called on the legislators “to wear the garment of patriotism and to take hold of the momentous opportunity of the ongoing amendment to reflect the yearnings and aspirations of the people.”

Some other recommendations by the Labour Party’s scribe to be considered during the amendment include an amendment that would legitimise the use of technology in the electoral system, ease the participation of visually impaired persons and other persons living with disabilities in the electoral process and enhance youth participation amongst others.

He said, “We call on all members of the National Assembly to wear the garment of patriotism and to for once take hold of the momentous opportunity of the ongoing amendment to reflect the yearnings and aspirations of the people.

“However, any amendment which does not make provision for the underlisted is an amendment only for the political elite in Nigeria.

“The Constitution and the Electoral Act must be amended to give full autonomy to local government councils. State independent Electoral Commissions should be abolished and INEC should give the responsibility to conduct local government elections in the country. This will remove local councils from the claws, cleavages and prevent state governors from appointing their stooges as officials of local government areas. The state joint account must be abolished. This is without prejudice to what Mr President has done in the recent past to ensure that funds are released directly from the federation account to all LGAs in Nigeria

“An amendment that will legitimise the use of technology in the electoral system to wit; voters are electronically accredited which will confirm, authenticate and verify a voter; polling unit election results are published and electronically transmitted to INEC Website and other platforms and made accessible to members of the public; give INEC the power to adopt electronic voting and electronic collation and transmission of election results. This will reduce the huge cost of logistics, saves time and energy currently spent on election materials.

“Reflect amendments that will ease the participation of the visually impaired persons and other persons living with disabilities in the electoral process. Insert novel and incisive provisions that will remove all disabilities and enhance the participation of youths in the electoral process.

“Make deliberate provisions to enhance the participation of women in the electoral process. Insert provisions that will aid the prosecution of electoral offenders and discourage vote buying. INEC should be relieved of the burden of preventing, investigating and prosecuting electoral Electoral offences.”

Also, the immediate-past secretary-general of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr Anthony Sani said the country would cut the cost of elections if they are held on the same day.

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He also said that the ongoing constitution amendment must ensure the legality of the use of card readers in all elections insisting that all elections should be conducted by INEC, including the local government council elections.

Sani said such arrangement reduces the strength of democracy at the grassroots since it was on record the ruling party always wins in elections organised and conducted by the states.

“My take on which areas require amendment include legalisation of card readers away from being mere guidelines by INEC; electoral mandate is to the political party and not to individual; all elections should be conducted the same day. INEC should conduct local government elections and office of the Attorney General should be separated from that of minister of Justice,” Sani said.

According to him, the legalisation of card readers would go a long way in reducing incidence of multiple voting, ghosts voting and confer credibility and integrity on the electoral processes and the system.

“Because of the confusion defections by politicians cause in our multiparty system and prevent the politicians and political parties from being ideological, it is important for the electoral act to be clear about who owns the electoral mandate. Is it the political parties or the individual candidates? If it is made clear that the electoral mandate is to political parties and not to individual candidates, it would prevent unbridled defections by politicians and, thus help build sturdy political parties based on ideological disposition and issues.

“Also, in order to reduce cost and prevent bandwagon effects, all elections should be conducted on the same day. If Kenya can do it, there is no reason why Nigeria cannot conduct all the elections on the same day.

“Following the dearth of democracy at local government level by governors who misuse state electoral commissions to kill the multiparty democracy at that level where no opposition party ever wins a councilor seat, let the electoral commissions be abolished in favour of INEC which should be allowed to conduct local government elections,” Sani said.

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