Competitiveness, political awareness responsible for inconclusive polls in 2019 – INEC

#TrackNigeria: The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Thursday in Kaduna said steep competition among leading political parties in the country was largely responsible for the inconclusive elections recorded in 2019.

Prof. Antonia Simbine, INEC’s National Commissioner for North Central Zone, stated this while presenting Certificate of Return to Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Thursday in Kaduna.

Simbine said that while the nation’s internal democracy was deepening after six successive elections, the system was being faced by many other emerging realities.

“One is the reality that our democracy is deepening incrementally having conducted the sixth successive election without an interregnum; there is improved integrity in the electoral system.

“The elections are becoming more and more competitive and the margin between winners and runners-up are decreasing to the extent that in many instances elections into the Executive and Legislatures are increasingly becoming inconclusive.

“This explains why the phenomenon of inconclusive elections appears to have increased. To be sure, it existed prior to the existence of the present Commission. We cannot expect less when a few big parties are contesting for power at every level.”

She, however, expressed concern over the lack of internal democracy among the leading political parties in the country and called for a reverse to allow for peace and harmony within the parties.

“The pathetic crisis of lack of internal democracy in the parties and the desperation of the candidates and their supporters driven by the fear of losing all tend to compound the problem

“Let me particularly mention the negative role of violence in our elections. Democratic elections are rule-based and those parties, candidates and supporters that resort to self-help by taking the path of violence undermine the virtues of democratic elections.

“Unfortunately, the 2019 elections marked a new trend in which some parties and candidates engaged in violent behavior, including manhandling election duty officials and intimidation of voters, collation and Returning Officers,“ the Commissioner said.

According to her, the Commission views this trend with grave concerns and will continue to work on greater voter enlightenment for mandate protection as well as with the security agencies to curtail the ugly trend.

“While doing this, the Commission advises disgruntled persons and parties to feel free to seek judicial remedy where they believe they have genuine case(s) to pursue.

“Indeed, seeking judicial remedy is not only a part and parcel of the electoral process in Nigeria; it is consistent with the culture of democracy as opposed to resorting to self-help.

“It is my pleasure at this point to congratulate the entire people of Kaduna State for their conduct during the elections.

“The credit goes to the people, first and foremost, then to the stakeholders including incumbent and opposition parties,“ she said.

Simbine commended the security agencies in the state for their performance, which she said was acknowledged by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in different fora.

“The ad-hoc staff as exemplified by members of the NYSC is also singled out for praise, as the CBN’s partnership with the Commission, through the Kaduna Branch Controller, Ahmad Mohammad Wali. I thank the Branch Controller in a special way on behalf of the Commission.

“At this point, let me congratulate Malam Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai, the sitting governor of Kaduna State who is also the governor-elect.

“ I believe that your re-election is a referendum in which the people of Kaduna State have passed a vote of confidence. I encourage you to deliver more material benefits to the diversity of people in Kaduna in order to meet their governance expectations.

“I also congratulate the elected state Assembly members, including those who are returning. I hope that you will provide the necessary oversight of the executive and put the state in a good stead to deliver the benefits of democracy.

“On this note, let me conclude that as our democracy improves including the reform of the rules of the game and the regulations and guidelines of the Commission, we will continue to serve you by ensuring that only those who truly win the hearts of the majority of the electorate are returned elected.,“ Simbine said.

The INEC National Commissioner presented the Certificate of Return to Gov. El-Rufai  of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who defeated  Alhaji Isah Ashiru of the  Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, in the March 9 governorship poll.

The Certificate was presented to El-Rufai’s running mate and Deputy Governor -elect, Hajiya Hadiza Balarabe, with top party leaders and supporters in attendance.

Meanwhile, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Kaduna State, Alhaji Kaugama Abdullahi presented similar Certificate of Return to the elected members of the State House of Assembly. (NAN)