Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said that “constitutional and legal alterations and amendments alone cannot solve the challenges of the electoral process.
Prof. Yakubu said this in Lagos, yesterday, at a one-day meeting held by the electoral body with the media, to review the 2019 Election.
“While it is right and rational to alter the Constitution and amend the laws to take care of new, emerging and novel issues that may arise or have arisen and not contemplated or anticipated by lawmakers, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that every electoral challenge must be solved through constitutional or Electoral Act amendment,” he said.
He also disclsoed how it is impossible for the electoral body to implement many of the recommendations from the European Union (EU) and other national and foreign election observers because they would need the input of the National Assembly, through amendments, to the existing electoral legal framework.
The INEC boss, however, assured Nigerians that the Commission will implement the recommendations, especially the one on administrative actions, starting from the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections slated for November 16.
He said out of the 30 EU recommendations, INEC can only implement nine, by administrative actions.
“We are right now reviewing some of the reports of national and international accredited observers. Many of the recommendations cannot be implemented by INEC alone by administrative actions; the required collaboration of others and in many cases, amendments to the electoral legal framework”.
“This cannot be done by INEC itself, we have to go to the National Assembly. Let me give you some examples. The EU made 30 recommendations on how we can improve the electoral process in Nigeria. Out of this, only nine can be implemented by INEC by administrative action.
“Commonwealth made 24 recommendations but only eight can be implemented by INEC; by administrative actions. The joint NDI/IRI made 18 recommendations, out of which four can be implemented by INEC by way of administrative actions.
“We are committed to ensuring that some of the recommendations that we can implement by administrative action will be implemented in Bayelsa and Kogi elections.
“Indeed, I want to assure you that if there is any critical recommendation that requires immediate action, we will consider it when we conduct the first bye-election on August 3, in Pengana State Constituency of Plateau State caused by the death of the member for Pengana.”
Yakubu also commended the media for exhibiting high-level professionalism and objectivity in the coverage of the elections. He said many coverage of the elections were done pro bono by media houses. According to him, the media performed well, despite inadequacies, irregularities and challenges faced during the elections.
In her goodwill message, President, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Ms. Monica Frassoni, commended the media but highlighted the danger of fake news and its impact on democracy.
She disclosed that ECES has “many other initiatives in the pipeline, aimed at supporting INEC’s strong relationship with the media” but also admitted that “it is very important for the media to be aware of, at least, some of the technicalities of the process of elections.”
Thereafter, President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, urged participants to tell INEC what it did wrong, and added that that the media had no choice but to support INEC because the profession only thrives in a democracy.
Egbemode, represented by the NGE Vice Chairman (West), Mr Mustapha Isah, frowned at the do-or-die attitude and desperation of politicians.
She described it as “a disease” that cannot be tamed by law but attitudinal change.