2019: Much ado about re-ordering of election sequence

The recent action of the National Assembly in re-ordering the sequence for the 2019 general elections has been in the front burner of national discourse in the past few weeks. This has been so considering that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had earlier scheduled the order or sequence of the 2019 elections to begin with the presidential election first. Understandably, therefore some interests who have been uncomfortable with the re-ordering of the elections with the presidential election now scheduled to hold, last, apparently jumped into the ring for what looks like the mother of all legal battles and political intrigue with the National Assembly.
To start with, some members of the two-chamber NASS addressed the press shortly after the re-ordering of the election sequence got the nod of the senate. From the way they spoke, it appeared that they were afraid that the action of NASS in re-ordering election would disadvantage the incumbent President and by extension, affect their own chances in the 2019 polls.
As if that is not enough, the-former INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega reportedly came with a jibe against NASS on grounds that, the re-ordering interfered with the independence of the electoral commission. This prompted INEC under Mahmud Yakubu to reportedly reject the re-ordering of the election sequence.
The president on his own part has vetoed the bill re-ordering the election sequence, while a Federal High Court Abuja has given an order restraining NASS from overriding the president veto. Indeed there has been much ado about this re-ordering of 2019 election sequence. Questions arise from this development. First, what does it matter whether the presidential election comes first or last as long as credible candidates contest in credible elections? Second, does the independence of INEC exist in absolute terms such that NASS cannot determine election sequence? Does it also mean that NASS did not look at the relevant sections of the constitution before delving into the re-ordering process?
It is our view that rather than dissipate energy and waste resources on mere order of election sequence, INEC should concentrate on how to conduct credible polls in 2019. After all, this is not the first time election has been re-ordered in Nigeria.
Election sequence was re-ordered ahead of the 2015 general elections and hall was not let loose. Ex-president Jonathan did not even go to court when Jega’s INEC fixed presidential election first.
Beside, it is our view also that the best INEC could do is to go to court if they feel NASS over-reached itself and not unilaterally rejecting the action of the federal legislature. Nigerians expect nothing less than a free, fair and transparent election in 2019 given the state of affairs in the country at the present. This remains the only way real change can be achieved.

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