The 2023 election timetable an¬nounced by Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday, has begun to generate serious controversies across all sectors, particularly in political and economic segments.
The economic implications of the pronouncement have been of great concern, considering the current position of the economy which is on the precipice. President Muhammadu too is said to be under pressure over the announcement as it came to him suddenly.
Political analysts are worried that the timetable could heighten the tempo of politicking, backroom dealing and horse-trading while actual governance may take the backstage.
They are also of the opinion that an order in which the presidential election comes first may confer an undue advantage on the incumbent party and upset the outcome of future elections.
Yakubu, on Thursday, said Nigeria was 855 days away from the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu, at the inauguration of the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review, urged the National Assembly to work fast on the exercise, ahead of the polls, saying the 2023 presidential election is scheduled to hold on February 18, 2023.
Timetable curious, says Teniola
A veteran journalist, Mr. Eric Teniola, said the announcement was curious, pointing out that it was the first time Nigerians have been given 855 days’ notice for a presidential election.
He added that the declaration came 26 days before Yakubu’s tenure as Chairman of INEC terminates.
Teniola, a retired director from the presidency, explained further that “One would have expected that the INEC Chairman announce the dates for the gubernatorial elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States slated for next year and 2022. I am a bit prying and nosy at the timing of the announcement of the date of the presidential election. I am sure critics of Professor Yakubu will think that the announcement is a campaign alert of his readiness to be given an opportunity to be reappointed and that he is flying a kite having been intoxicated by INEC’s so called success in Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections.”
According to him “It’s like the Bauchi born Professor is throwing bits of bait into the waters for the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari. No doubt he is qualified for reappointment, he is fifty-eight. He has served as the Executive Secretary at the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) (2007-2012) and also served as the Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration of the 2014 National Conference of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“If you push your luck too far, you may risk losing the good favour and the good fortune you have garnered thus far. That is the simple lesson about life.
“It is the constitutional responsibility of President Muhammadu Buhari, to consult the National Council of State before submitting a name to the Senate for confirmation as Chairman of INEC. The President may choose to nominate any other person entirely. It is up to President Buhari. I am sure the President will be under pressure on this issue now. Whoever the President chooses is expected to conduct the Anambra, Osun and Ekiti States gubernatorial elections and the 2023 presidential elec¬tion of February 18, 2023.”
PDP yet to take decision – Ologbondiyan
Although Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), said that the party was still studying the situation, Mr. Fatai Adams, chairman of the PDP in Ondo State, argued that he doesn’t believe the early release of the 2023 election schedule would undermine governance.
He said “I don’t believe the early announcement of the election schedule would cause distraction. It’s not everybody in public office that would be contesting election. Even in advanced countries, there are situations you know the date of the election four years be¬fore the election.
“It only gives room for enough preparation. INEC would not have any excuse of not having enough time to prepare for the election. All participating political parties would have enough time to prepare themselves for the election.
“It is a welcome development and if managed very well, it would enhance our democracy.”
Speaking on the Justice Uwais Panel’s recommendation that all the elections should hold same day, the PDP state chairman declared that he would not subscribe to the recommendation.
He said: “As far as I am concerned, I don’t support such recommendation. It does not allow the electorate to assess the integrity, capability and competence of other candidates. You will just realise that it’s a matter of this is my presidential candidate and they will vote along that line which is not supposed to be.
“So, let everybody contest based on his integrity, competence, capability and manifesto.”
On whether APC has a hidden agenda by allowing INEC release the election schedule so early and Mr. President nominating his aide as INEC commissioner, Adams said it ran afoul of the dictate of the constitution which says an INEC commissioner must be an apolitical personality.
He said: “The issue of Mr. President nominating one of his aides as INEC commissioner is unacceptable. If you look at the rules and regulations that guide the appointment of electoral commissioners, he must be an apolitical person. Someone who does not belong to any political party. (Sunday Independent)