Tomorrow, March 23, 2019, supplementary elections in five states will be conducted in order to conclude the 2019 governorship elections which were declared inconclusive after the March 9, 2019 elections. The states include Benue, Plateau, Kano, Bauchi and Sokoto. Though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared elections in seven states inconclusive, a re-think by the electoral umpire and court injunctions have necessitated that elections are not conducted in two of the seven states.
In Adamawa State, one of the states where the governorship election was inconclusive, the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy and Development (MRDD), had faulted the governorship election and called for a suspension of the supplementary election because its logo did not feature on the ballot papers used in the March 9 elections. An attempt by INEC to counter the motion failed on Thursday as Justice Abdulaziz Waziri of the Adamawa State High Court in Yola, adjourned ruling on it.The Judge cited personal health condition as the reason for which ruling on the matter could not be done on Thursday. He adjourned till Tuesday next week for ruling. As a result, the supplementary election will not take place until the court case is decided.
In Bauchi State, INEC had earlier resolved to count the votes cast on March 9 in controversial Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, in order to avoid the supplementary election, but Justice Inyang Ekwo of Abuja High Court on Tuesday made an order suspending the collation of the March 9 governorship election. Governor Mohammed Abubakar, who is seeking re-election, had gone to court to seek an injunction stopping the collation. The supplementary election will now take place on Saturday.
The electoral body has slated April 13 for the supplementary election in Rivers State where violence had marred the governorship election on March 9. The collation of the results of the votes from 17 local government areas will be done between April 2 and April 5, 2019. Deliberate attempts by some stakeholders to use the court of law to issue an injunction to stop the collation and the conduct of supplementary elections failed earlier in the week.
As the people return to the polls on Saturday, it is essential for security agencies to refrain from activities that led to controversies in many parts of the country during the March 9 elections. The militarization of many parts of the country, which led to an allegation that the military was biased and in bed with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), should be avoided. The military has no significant role in an election. The police are supposed to provide security to prevent the breakdown of law and order at polling units. A situation in which some desperate politicians engaged the services of the military personnel to harass and intimidate the people from going to the polls is unacceptable.
The electoral umpire should be transparent in conducting the supplementary elections. Most of the questions raised about the governorship elections bordered on the lack of transparency in the collation of results. In many parts of the country, voters complained that the results declared at collation centres did not correspond with those generated at polling units. Tomorrow's supplementary elections are very sensitive, delicate and critical because the margin of victory could be slim. Any attempt to misrepresent the figures and deliver victory to wrong candidates could lead to protests that would further dent the image of INEC.
We call on politicians to accept the verdicts of the electorate. In every election, there must be a winner and a loser. Those who lose at the polls should not encourage their supports to engage in violent acts. Rather, they should make recourse to the provisions of the law in seeking redress.
In all, the ball is in the court of INEC to conduct a free, fair and credible supplementary election in the affected states on Saturday in order to calm frayed nerves in several parts of the country.