Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha was conspicuously absent as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, issued certificates of return to senators-elect at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on Thursday.
Reporters roved, people searched, but in vain they all searched for the outgoing governor. With Okorocha’s loud absence, it soon dawned on everyone that INEC had, indeed, made good its promise not to reward any politician or party that harassed its staff, or made his officers to announce election results under duress.
While announcing the results of the senatorial elections in Owerri, the returning officer had, before television cameras, told the world that he was announcing the results under duress. He had, thereafter, declared Okorocha as winner of Imo West Senatorial District in the February 23, 2019 election.
Presenting the certificates to the senators-elect, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, charged them to hit the ground running by working on the review of the Electoral Act ahead of the 2023 general elections. The earlier they started the review of the legal framework on the instrument, he said, the better and more effective the implementation.
“There is a lot of work but very little time available,” Prof. Yakubu continued. “As a process governed by law, the success of election in Nigeria depends to a large extent on the electoral legal framework and most importantly, in ensuring adherence to the law.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to work with the National Assembly to review and strengthen our Electoral Law.
“But I want to appeal to the Senators-elect to please start work early and conclude work on the electoral framework in good time well ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“The tendency to delay electoral reform, particularly the review of the electoral framework, until it is too close to the elections, leaves the commission with little time to develop processes including regulations and guidelines, make required consultation with stakeholders, embark on effective voter education including sensitisation, train staff and organise deployment for the elections.
“I am glad that among the senators-elect are senators that we have worked very closely with and some of them have taken initiative or even sponsoring private member bills to advance the cause of electoral reform,” he said.
Among those issued the certificate of return are: Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, Enugu West (PDP); Mohammed Sabo, Jigawa South West (APC); Philip
Aduda, FCT(PDP) and Sen. Dino Malaiye Kogi West (PDP).
Others are: Baba Kaita, Kastina North (APC); Omo-Agege, Ovie Delta Central (APC); Ibrahim Gandam, Yobe North (APC); Abdul’Aziz Yari Zamfara North (APC); Kaura Yahaya, Zamfara West(APC) and Ifeanyi Uba, Anambra South (YPP).