The March 9th gubernatorial elections came with a lot of controversies, following the high case of violence in the Presidential election earlier conducted 23rd February 2019. With a lot of tight races during the gubernatorial election, it witnessed a bountiful harvest of inconclusive, across six states. This has been the case for many elections in Nigeria, since INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmoud entered the scene.
A little bit of history? Inconclusive elections firstly started with the Kogi governorship election of 2015, where Alhaji Audu of the APC had defeated Idris Wada of the PDP. However, INEC applied the margin of victory arithmetic and declared the election inconclusive. Inconclusive elections would not be a problem in Nigeria if it does not pose a threat to the people residing in the wards and polling units cancelled.
Inconclusive elections are usually invitations to violence, as the large number of thugs of political actors are often deployed to small spaces, to tilt the scale for a seldom popular candidate, who may be favored by the political actors. This was allegedly the case in Osun State, not minding that the Tribunal has overturned the victory in favor of the PDP who won was leading, prior to the declaration of the election as inconclusive.
Inconclusive elections are security threats to the immediate environment and while it is in the constitution, INEC must review its methods; to understand why there is a pattern of cancellation of votes in a particular candidate’s stronghold, in order to trigger an inconclusive election. In most cases where the elections are declared inconclusive, there is usually a new increase in desperation, and a reaffirmation of strengths across actors and when two elephants fight? The grasses suffer. The issue of Kano was one that would hunt the INEC, having that the body was not in any way supposed to proceed with voting, following rampant voter intimidation, brazen rigging, violence and thuggery recorded all over the hotspots for the re-run elections. In Rivers for instance, the INEC was fast enough to suspend collation seeing the amount of threat to human lives and property the election brought along. In Gama Ward of Nassarawa Local Government, the first election was violated by a lot of skirmishes and pocketful of violence, leading to the cancellation of the result. Allegedly, before the cancellation, the PDP candidate was leading in the ward. Now, a higher level of violence is allegedly meted out to the people and INEC is nowhere to be found. Are the rules selective?
If the nation must move forward, it must be able to priorities electoral safety and security. Security on the day of elections is the difference between perpetually having good people in power and having bad people in power. If security is not prioritized, bad people will always find a way to create enough violence, to scare the good people who in turn want to vote good people. The bedrock of societal and national development starts with the ability to exercise one’s franchise, without the fear of violation by desperate political actors.
The inconclusive elections from Kogi to Bayelsa, to Osun and now to Kano and Benue among others, have become hotspots for abuse and violence against the people. The Supreme court should be able to reverse itself, in Faleke vs INEC which reads; “…the 1st respondent (INEC) was correct when it declared the election of 21/11/15 inconclusive on the ground that the margin of win between the two fore-runners at the election was less than the total number of registered voters in 91 affected polling units where elections were cancelled.”
The country continually bleeds with respect to these inconclusive elections. In the typical desperate politician’s playbook, “Cause violence in places a powerful candidate is losing, so elections are cancelled and declared inconclusive. Use violence to win the re-run.” That is how an unpopular but desperate politician is foisted on the country and the people. INEC and the Supreme Court must act, and fast.