Opinion: Revisiting INEC’s Proposed Sequence For The 2023 Elections – By Nnamdi Nwigwe

In the furore that has lately greeted the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, notably its uncertain fate with the Presidency and National Assembly, something sinister is about to sneak up on Nigerians like a thief at night. It is the sequence of the 2023 General elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has since early 2021 announced its intent that the next polls will commence on or about February 23, 2023 with the presidential and National Assembly elections, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly ballots. This would be in a majority of states not affected by off-season elections.

Many concerned citizens have wondered why INEC should choose to first try out its new hi-tech gadgets, with the risk of possible major glitches, on the more sensitive national polls. Of particular concern is the decision to start with the climactic presidential election.

Isn’t it eminently more sensible that INEC begins with the smaller state elections so that it can smoothen rough edges and deal with glitches that invariably crop up during accreditation, voting, counting, transmission and collation of results? Besides, “starting small” would enable INEC staff and ad hoc personnel the opportunity to gain more knowledge and confidence to tackle the national polls.

In 1979, we started the Presidential System so well with the state elections while leaving the presidential ballot as the ultimate big masquerade. It all came off fine.

Besides, state elections being conducted first usually enable the various contesting political parties and their candidates to more truly assess their strengths and popularity without the avoidable bandwagon effect of a presidential poll held ahead of the state assembly and governorship polls.

Those who believe that this country deserves the best should begin now to pull all legitimate strings to ensure that things are done in a manner that glitters with transparency. And I posit that putting our presidential elections always, at the last, is one of such nationalistic obligations.

Any chief electoral umpire who has the toxic brainwave to distort the election schedule by introducing the presidential poll first must prepare to regret the fatal wound he would inflict on the body politic of our nation.

Why other INEC big shots wish to continue with this programmed disaster and mischief beats all imagination. It seems that the enemies of true democracy are working overtime yet again. And it is even more intriguing that we the citizens are relaxed and watching with total indifference as the ship of state wobbles and drifts to the edge of the tsunami.

It is not yet late to call INEC to order NOW. Surely, the numerous professors who are now captains for conducting our elections can think outside the box and save us from impending disaster. They should please spare us the agony of doing the last things first with the discomfiture it portends for the entire nation.

Let the 2023 general elections begin with State Assembly/Governorship polls and end with the Presidential climax. A wise child does not start his meals by first eating his meat. It is a sign of bad upbringing. Enough said.

– Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe, a veteran journalist, writes from Owerri, Imo State.

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