The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau, says he believes that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can perform better in the March 18 governorship and state assembly elections than it did in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
The electoral body has faced criticisms from different quarters following the conduct of the presidential elections which experienced some hitches including failure to upload polling unit results electronically in real time as promised by the commission before the polls.
However, Maikyau, on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, said INEC has learnt some lessons from the last election and are poised to do better on Saturday.
He stated that the NBA was an accredited observer of the elections and has NBA has 128 branches and deployed over 1000 members who observed the elections. He stated that the general elections had.
“There was delay in deployment of material and personnel to their respective polling units. Some local government did not even see any of the polling materials until the following day which is the 26th and that caused a lot of agitation and suspicion in the mind of the people… the delay in the supply of the materials heightened the suspicion of whether the elections will hold or not”
On the impact of the BVAS during the course of the elections; the NBA Helmsman stated some of the electoral infractions that occurred during the elections was because people do not understand the changes that has come on board. That the dissatisfaction that has come as a result of the elections was because of INEC failure to instantaneously upload the results to their own data bank, which was promised by INEC.
Asked on the compliancy level of INEC with regards the usage of the IReV portals and the BVAS as INEC had claimed.
He asked that he should be excused from giving legal opinions with regards to the matter as there are matters already pending in court. However, he said that the issue of authenticity and validity of a process must be taken in the context of what an institution needs to do in carrying the public along. He reinstated that whatever INEC had to do in compliance with the law must not only be done in compliance of the law but the public must also be carried along so as to gain their trust.
He further stated that: “I still believe that INEC can do more or better than what it did in the last elections”. He emphasized that he as an observer in the elections he has seen that INEC is deliberately taking steps to avoid the lapses that happened in the general elections.
On the positives of the
He stated that there were a lot of positives from the last elections that arrogance of political parties to determine who will win the elections. Many Governors, he said, lost their elections and states to opposition parties. This were things that are were not heard of. He further urged Nigerians to come out and vote based on the progress recorded. According to him:
“I am one person who believes that we make progress steadily, it maybe slow, but once we make any progress, we should be able to acknowledge it; appreciate it; and build on it. And I think that we have made a lot of progress from the elections held on the 25th of February 2023 and that should actually energize Nigerians to come out and vote in the elections coming up on Saturday. This is a big task that only us Nigerians, individually and collectively, can perform.”
Drawing from his preceding statement, he was asked if he saw the possibility of eight electoral parties having a seat in the National Assembly. Mr. Maikyau stated that he never saw it “…that was quite revolutionary” he had said.
“I cannot close my eyes to the positives we get from the elections on the basis of my emotions. It is not about me, it is not about a few people; it is about all of us in this country. The interest of this country is bigger than the interest of a few political party or any individual.”
He added that what Nigerians need at the end of the day is justice and that every individual who won the election should give that to Nigerians. He urged that those who are unhappy to come out and exercise their franchise.
For the political class, Mr. Maikyau said that the days of impunity is long gone and it is time to recognize that Nigerians makes independent choices as to who they choose. He further stated that political parties must be people driven.
On the Naira redesign, he stated that the judgment of the Supreme Court resonated with the letter the Nigerian Bar Association had written to the Governor of the Central Bank. He further stated that the NBA played its role in guiding the public and this it will do come 18th of March for the Governorship elections.
On Money Politics, he established that the Naira redesign and money scarcity showed that politicians now have to reconsider other yardstick like what they have done with for the people and so on before reconsidering elections. Money politics is corruption, he had said, but it is clear that you can not use money to determine the outcome of an elections in Nigeria. He affirmed the fact that “hire and fire” politics is now emerging.
“Peter Obi came with the momentum that has never being seen in elections before” he said. All participants in the elections must be commended. So many people rode on the momentum brought by these electoral participants.
The interviewer has asked of his biggest fear for the elections. Mr. Maikyau said he would not call it fear but an admonition that people should come out and participate in this business of elections. That people should take the positives of the elections and vote on the election day. He further added that his advice for INEC ahead of the elections should be that; INEC should deploy materials on time; that INEC should do anything to maintain the confidence of the public and also, INEC should take steps to prosecute those who tried disrupting the process.