Abuja — Nigeria's electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said that it is impossible to hold elections to fill all the vacant offices in the country in one day. Reason being that the security of lives and property of citizens have to be given priority.
Many Nigerians and several groups have in the past, advocated for a deviation from the staggered electoral process to a one Election Day process which according to them, will save time and expenses. But INEC insists that it is able to curtail crisis and reduce tension in the land with the staggered elections.
"Conducting elections to fill all the positions in one day in Nigeria is impossible," said the deputy director, Electoral Training, The Electoral Institute of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Agoha Ifeanyichukwu.
He added that a one Election Day process is not only impossible because of the legal framework but because it will actually cost more to achieve. "Staggered elections helps us save money and reduce tension. If all elections are conducted in one day, announcing the results will take time and that could cause serious tension that might lead to security breach."
Staggered elections, Ifeanyichukwu further disclosed, gives room for immediate improvement in the electoral processes. "Every country has its challenges. Nigeria's election is in different tiers. That is why it may not be easy to conduct the country's elections in one day."
Ifeanyichukwu said this while speaking at a training for journalists on election coverage, organised by the International Press Institute (IPI), in collaboration with the Abuja regional office of UNESCO.
Also speaking at the training, a professor of Journalism and Mass Communication from the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Kwame Karikari, who responded to questions as to why neighbouring countries have been able to manage their elections better than Nigeria, said that the 'name and shame' policies adopted by Ghana helped in deepening democracy in the West African country. "Ghana identified elections hotspots that is why its elections are relatively peaceful," he said.
Karikari, a former Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), said if Nigeria must achieve success in the 2019 general elections, hotspots must be identify by the security agencies and other stakeholders.
"In Ghana, religious bodies, for decades, have worked out plans to support each other when it comes to electoral matters. They tackle hate speeches by preaching peace so that political parties become exposed to the preaching of peace and whosoever inspires violence, Ghanaians name and shame such a person. That is what Nigeria should imbibe for peaceful elections.'