BREAKING: Group asks INEC to separate presidential, National Assembly election dates

A group, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative (OAI), has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the presidential and National Assembly elections on different days in the future to avoid a bandwagon effect.

The recommendation was contained in a report on the 2023 general election unveiled by the group on Tuesday in Abuja….CONTINUE READING

The report, titled; Comprehensive Report on the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria (National and State Assemblies in Focus), was presented by OAI Executive Director, Oke Epia.

INEC has for years held the presidential and National Assembly elections on the same day, while governorship and state assemblies are also conducted on the same day.

According to the report, the practice of lumping the elections together is creating a situation where National Assembly candidates benefit from a “top to bottom” voting pattern.

“The practice of holding elections for legislative and executive positions is most likely to result in choosing lawmakers along the lines of a bandwagon trend instead of adequate knowledge of the capacity, competence and character of those seeking to be legislators,” the report states.

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“This is a result of the predominant attention that the presidential candidates, their political parties, and the process itself generates from the media, local and international observers, as well as other stakeholders.

“This trickles down to the voters who are often influenced to switch loyalties in line with the presidential election, hence taking sides with the political party that wins the presidency at the federal level. Consequently, this culture often leads to the emergence of winners who largely did not win on their own personal strengths and merits.”

To address the problem, OAI recommended that INEC use its administrative leverage to change the current schedule.

The recent presidential and National Assembly polls were held on 25 February, while the governorship and state assemblies were conducted on 18 March.

“The electoral body should deploy its administrative leverage to address scheduling to hold elections on separate days for executive and legislative elections,” the group said.

OAI called for the creation of an electoral sequence in the Electoral Act by establishing separate dates for all the elections.

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“The National Assembly revisits the order and sequence of elections in a way that executive and legislative polls hold on separate dates. This can be done by amending the electoral law,” It said.

Mr Epia said the last attempt at imputing the election sequence in the Electoral Act failed because politics tainted the intention.

“There was an attempt to do that in the 8th Assembly; that was political gymnastics. If you want to go for a constitutional amendment, that works; if you go for an electoral amendment, that would be a quicker one. We may want to tell INEC; maybe you should take a look at your law. But the question is, do they have the punch? Do they have the will?” Mr Epia said.

Past attempts at electoral amendment on election sequence

In the 8th Assembly, the National Assembly passed the Electoral Amendment Bill that included an electoral sequence; however, the bill was rejected by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

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“The amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the principal act may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organise, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statute to the Constitution,” Mr Buhari had stated in a letter to the two chambers of the National Assembly in 2018.

Sections 76, 178, 132 and other sections in the 1999 constitution as amended gives INEC the power to fix dates for election.

Section 178 provides that “An election to the office of Governor of a State shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

Also, Section 132 provides that “An election to the office of President shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission….CONTINUE READING

Furthermore, Section 76(1) states that “Elections to each House of the National Assembly shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission.”