Why Recent Elections Have Been Inconclusive – INEC Chair

Mahmood-YakubuChairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday explained why many elections conducted by the commission since he came on board are inconclusive.
He attributed the development to the fact that elections are getting better and votes are being made to count.
Mr. Yakubu added that the do-or-die mentality of politicians has compounded the issue because elections are now tightly fought, with slim margins of victory, unlike in the past when elections were won with landslide margins.
The INEC chair further explained that because of the tight results, cancellation of votes from polling units matter in determining who the winner would be, thereby making elections inconclusive on the first ballot.
Mahmood said INEC had discovered that all instances of inconclusive elections were in areas where political players unleashed violence and made the environment a danger zone for the commission’s staff and innocent voters.
He said in areas where elections were concluded on the first ballot, the Commission had no record of violence by political actors.
Mahmood spoke in Lagos yesterday at a parley with media executives.
He said: “There has been a revolution in our elections since 2015, particularly with the introduction of technology, but we haven’t come to grips with this reality. Elsewhere, it is normal to have this kind of (inconclusive) election. It is a requirement in democracy that votes must count, and people must ultimately determine who the winner is”.
Yakubu noted that Nigeria’s electoral law envisages that elections may be inconclusive, even in a presidential contest but added that the current provision of the law is impracticable if that happens.
“If a presidential election turns out inconclusive, it is envisaged under the Constitution. But it is near impossible to conduct a supplementary election between the two leading candidates within seven days as provided for by the law. As we speak, we have 120,000 polling units in Nigeria, spread nationwide. We have to print the ballot paper, deliver the ballots to all the states and all the polling units, and mobilise the staff to conduct the elections. It is impossible to do that within seven days. Thank God it has never happened. But the fact is that it is envisaged under the law, and that means it may actually happen”, he said.
Prof. Mahmood also expressed curiosity that INEC under his watch has been accused of dereliction of some sorts following the recent spate of inconclusive elections.
“In the discussions that I have listened to and what I have read so far, I have not heard anyone accuse the Commission of declaring elections inconclusive outside the provisions of the law – especially Sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act”.
The INEC chief added: “That is the context that we should put the inconclusive elections. In 2011, the governorship election in Imo State was inconclusive because of votes outstanding in four local governments. In 2015, we had inconclusive elections again in Imo, Abia and Taraba states. The results were declared after supplementary elections were conducted. In-between 2011 and 2015, we had an inconclusive election in 2013 in Anambra State. So, this trend is backed up both by legal provisions and our experience”.