… Cautions CSOs Rejecting Reordered Polls
By Ayo Kehinde
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has thrown its weight behind the National Assembly on reordering of 2019 general elections and beyond, insisting that the presidential election must come last to save Nigerian democracy and the country from nosediving into a one party state at any point in our national life.
In its reaction to the controversy surrounding the reordering of elections by the Assembly ahead of 2019 polls, the CNPP in a statement issued by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, noted that proposal by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will lead to the party, which wins the Presidential election sweeping the polls at all level in view of the history of elections in the country.
CNPP also counselled all civil society organisations (CSOs) “towing the path of INEC to retrace their steps as they are unwittingly aiding a rigging formula that will turn the country into a one party state.
“If INEC wants to conduct free, fair and credible elections in the country devoid of rigging, the Commission should listen to the voice of the representatives of the Nigerian people, who are working hard to reduce bandwagon effects in voting.
“Members of the National Assembly are not only experienced politicians but major stakeholders in the outcome of the elections.
“You don’t put in place an electoral process in place with one man in mind because if another person comes in, the process will be inherited by the person. The the process should be to do the right thing and follow the path that can deepen democracy rather than a party that will ultimately destroy all democratic tenets we have all labour to build.
“For us, the reordered elections is the best thing the current National Assembly has done for Nigeria and democracy in the country. And anyone against it is a hater of Nigerian democracy.
“The issue is not about President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid. It is about Nigeria after President Buhari”, the Conference observed.
The CNPP then tasked the electoral umpire on free, fair and very credible 2019 elections that will surpass the legacy left behind by the last leadership of the Commission.
They equally urged politicians to work together to save democracy and unite the county rather than working for selfish purposes, with destruction as its end.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had in February 2018 concurrently reordered the 2019 general elections timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The order of elections was first reordered by the House of Representatives on January 24, 2018, by amending Section 25 of the Principal Act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1), stating that the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.
Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with marginal note: “Time for primaries of political parties. “The primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State Houses of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship, and (iv) President.
“The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier that 120 days and not later than 90 days before date of elections to the offices.”