The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday said that it went ahead with the Anambra State governorship elections despite the instability prevalent in South East Nigeria because aborting the election would have led to serious constitutional crisis that could threaten the existence of Nigeria.
This was part of the remarks of the National Supervising Commissioner for Anambra State, Mr Festus Okoye during the presentation of certificate of return to the winner of the governorship election, Prof Charles Soludo at Awka, Anambra State.
Okoye said: “There is no doubt that the Commission conducted the 6th and 9th November 2021 Governorship election in difficult circumstances. Indeed, the election was conducted in a challenging environment accentuated by fear, anxiety and uncertainty occasioned by political agitation in the southeast geopolitical zone. As we all know, agitations of this kind occurs often in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural political settings where identities are politically mobilized in the struggle for power and resources and sometimes in the desire for a just and equitable society;
The significant point to note, however, is that the Commission has remained firm and resolute in proceeding with the election based on its understanding of section 178 of the Constitution which circumscribed the conduct of elections within a firm and immovable constitutional compass. The consequences of aborting the election would have been a serious constitutional crisis and political uncertainty that could have further threatened Nigeria’s stability and survival”.
He therefore thanked the Anambra State people for holding the election, saying it is a sign of the peoples believe in democracy. “The fact that we are here today making this presentation after an election that has been widely acclaimed as meeting regional standards of free and fair election is a clear affirmation that Nigerians and the citizens of Anambra State in particular believe in democracy, not only as a means of addressing the numerous development challenges, but also a framework for the resolution of the multifarious dimensions of the National Question”, he said further.
Okoye said the ceremony is in compliance with section 75 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which mandates the Commission to issue a Certificate of Return to the Governor and Deputy Governor elect of Anambra State signifying the fact that they won the just concluded 2021 Anambra State governorship election and satisfied the constitutional and legal requirements in section 179 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended).
He said further: “As you know, the tenure of the incumbent Governor of Anambra State will expire on 17th March 2022. The implication is that the Governor and Deputy Governor elect will not assume office immediately. They must wait for the incumbent Governor and his Deputy to complete their four year tenure before they can be sworn in;
The Commission will audit the conduct of this election as it is the tradition after every major election in order to reflect on things that worked well and those that failed to work as desired; and use the lessons learned in the preparation for the next set of elections. It is in this regard and the benefits offered by the Electoral Cycle Approach adopted by the Commission that we now believe that the present trends of conducting elections imbued with integrity has become irreversible;
With specific reference to genuine concerns expressed by citizens on the performance of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the February 6, 2021 Anambra governorship election, the Commission wishes to state categorically that it stands to benefit from such criticisms and promises that these challenges will be addressed as was evident in the improved functionality of the BVAS in the supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area;
We are confident in our judgment that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System will remain a fundamental feature of our accreditation process as it will consign into the dustbin of history worrisome incidents of multiple voting and identity theft that in the past denied the country’s electoral process the desired public trust and confidence. On this note, the Commission will continue to improve on and perfect the technology for subsequent and future elections;
We commend the doggedness, resilience and courage of our permanent and ad-hoc staff that defied all the odds and grave dangers to personal life and safety to traverse the entire terrain of Anambra State to conduct this election;
We thank the security agencies that remained firm and professional in supporting the Commission throughout the election period and beyond;
We thank the media for the extensive coverage of the election;
More fundamentally, we thank the people of Anambra State for their firm belief in democracy. They understood the sovereign right imbedded in the vote and elevated the value and quality of the vote through vigilance and mandate protection;
We appreciate the sacrifices made by the National and Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Commission, seven of them, that assisted the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Anambra State in the conduct of the election;
We thank the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and the National Commissioners of the Commission for unwavering commitment to clean elections anchored on technology”.
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