• Friday, March 01, 2024
businessday logo


Adamawa double guber elections squeeze INEC finances

From all indications, Adamawa State might have to conduct two gubernatorial elections in just four months, one is the bye election in October 2014 and another in February 2015 after the winner must have completed ex-governor Murtala Nyako’s original tenure, which ends in May, BD SUNDAY investigations have shown.

With at least N250 million to be expended on Adamawa State bye-election scheduled for October 11 alone and another expenditure on the full gubernatorial elections in May based on the provisions of the constitution, analysts say at the weekend that democracy as practiced in Nigeria is becoming too expensive and a drain pipe on the dwindling economy.

This is so as it is obvious that whoever wins that election, irrespective of when he takes oath of office will only be governor till May 29, 2015 (seven months) being the unexpired term of the impeached Nyako.

Though the 1999 constitution has been altered severally to the extent that one cannot always be sure if what one is holding reflects the most recent alteration, some part, particularly, the Principal Act, still remains operational.

To that extent, Section 191 (2) of the CFRN, says “…..the speaker of the House of Assembly of the state shall hold the office of governor of the state for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new governor of the state who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the last holder of the office.”

Given politicians’ penchant to challenge anything, stakeholders say that they hope the eventual winner of this election will not head to court for interpretation of this unequivocal provision, a development that will further aggravate the cost implications at the expense of tax payers.

But the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) said at the weekend that it is mindful of the cost implications of the two elections within the spate of four months in same state, saying that it has been committed to cost efficiency.

Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to the commission’s Chairman, Attahiru Jega, who admitted that the estimated N250 million is conservative as it could be more, however, said that cost of election is based on the number of voters, adding that Nigeria ranks among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, cost of election per voter.

For instance, Idowu said that it was in the spirit of cutting cost that the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) at ward level was limited to three days.

But stakeholders said at the weekend that the action of the members of the Adamawa State legislature was wasteful, saying that they should have applied restraints considering the few months for the governor to have ended his tenure.

“To think of it, as expensive as our elections have become, INEC might have to conduct two gubernatorial elections in just four months for only Adamawa State; one in October 2014 and maybe another in February 2015. This democracy is fast becoming too expensive. Sadly, we do not have an alternative to it or so I think,” says Friday Ameh, an energy expert.

Bolade Agbola, executive director, Cashcraft Asset Management, said: “In a democracy odd things do happen because the framers of the constitution cannot envisage every conceivable situation or that of quality of leadership at the party, state and federal level.

“In a normal clime based on the cost and return analysis, the legislators would have tolerated the governor no matter the gravity of his offence for the remaining period to election which was less than nine months at the time of the infamous impeachment.

“If the overall cost to the state and the Federal Government, who funds INEC, was taken into consideration, voice of reason at both levels would have prevailed on the legislators to tarry awhile and settle the score at the forthcoming national elections. That democracy would have been served better if the people they represent were given opportunity to vote the governor out at the February election if the constitution was that grossly violated.”

Speaking further, Agbola said: “The whole scenario is an indication of the weakness of leadership at all levels in this dispensation as the ulterior motive of the impeachment clearly outweighed the logic of the exercise. We are still learning the rope and lessons will be learned sooner or later. I foresee the last has not been heard on the cost and benefits of the exercise. We all will bear the cost and future leaders will learn either from the wisdom or folly of the entire exercise.”

Jega was recently quoted as saying that INEC would require about N92.904billion to conduct the 2015 general election in 2015.

John Omachonu