The Senate on Tuesday called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately conclude all pending rerun elections in the country. The upper chamber of the National Assembly also call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately nominate suitably qualified persons to fill the vacant positions at INEC in line with the Constitution to enhance the capacity of INEC to conduct conclusive elections.
The lawmakers also direct its committee on INEC to hold a public hearing to review the performance of INEC in the last one year with a view to ascertain the factors that may have caused the perceived decline of the electoral system.
The decision follows a motion sponsored by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. The Deputy Senate President said effective, efficient and reliable electoral institutions are an elixir to any credible electoral system and a panacea to fledging and enduring democratic system all over the world.
Ekweremadu added that the electoral reforms vide amendments to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and the Electoral Act in 2010 placed Nigeria’s electoral system on sound pedestal and culminated in the globally acclaimed improvements in the 2011 and 2015 general election.
He noted with deep concern that at least 20 states of the federation have no resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) contrary to section 14(2) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. “INEC cannot function optimally without the full complement of members that will superintend the activities of other personnel” Ekweremadu said.
The Deputy Senate President said the failure of INEC to conduct rerun elections within the timeframe ordered by respective Election Petition Tribunal and Courts is in breach of electoral Act and Section 76 of the 1999 Constitution and endangers the nation’s democracy.
He said the worrisome trend of inconclusive elections and whimsical postponement of elections are wrong signals and symptoms that cannot just be dismissed with wave of hand. “The development at few electoral exercises carried out so far by our electoral umpire has left much to be desired being a research sample of the entire population” Ekweremadu said.
The Deputy Senate President also expresses worry about the fate of the 2019 general elections in the face of the present state of inconclusive elections and postponements. “Worried that this trend has left both chambers of the National Assembly and some State Houses of Assembly without the full complement of their membership while millions of Nigeria are left without representatives for a long period of time contrary to Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended” Ekweremadu added.
In his contribution Senate leader Ali Ndume said the lawmakers should not allow the illegality to continue. “As Senators, we cannot allow certain illegality to continue. There is need to overhaul the entire INEC” Ndume said.
He wonder were INEC got the power to postpone elections.
The Senate President Bukola Saraki said the issue of credible election in the country cannot be over emphasized. He urged the President to immediately nominate suitably qualified persons for the vacant positions. Saraki also urge the Senate committee on INEC to organize public hearing on the matter.