By Lateef Ibrahim
From the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) came yestetday an assurance that it would obey recent amendments to Electoral Act only if it is passed into law six months before the next general election.
The National Commissioner in the commission, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, who represented INEC chairman, Prof, Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance during a function at the Electoral Institute in Abuja.
Ibeanu however pointed out that said the amendment by the lawmakers was still a proposal which will need to scale through some hurdles before becoming a law.
Speaking against the background of the proposed amendment to the Act rejigging the order of 2019 general elections, which has scaled through first reading at the House Representative, the INEC National Commissioner said as a law-abiding organisation,the commission will obey the amendment once it is signed into law.
His words, “INEC works with the Electoral Act. If there is a legitimate amendment to the Act, INEC will have no option than to obey, but that must happen first.
“Like I said, the role of INEC is to conduct elections based on the law; if there is a legitimate amendment to the Electoral Act, INEC will obey,’’ he said.
Under the new arrangement being. proposed, the National Assembly election would hold first, followed by Governorship and House of Assembly, and then Presidential election to be conducted last.
The amendment scaled through the first reading on Tuesday after the House received the report of its Committee on Electoral Matters on the electoral process and need to amend the Electoral Act 2010.
The Election time-table released by INEC indicated that presidential and national assembly elections were billed for Feb. 19, 2019 and governorship and house of assembly, March 3, 2019.
Ibeanu said: “It is still a proposal by the House of Representatives. I think it is still going to enjoy concurrence of both chambers of the National Assembly for harmonisation as well as inputs from states.
On the timing of the amendment with regard to the elections, Ibeanu said that there was a six-month time frame for amendment of the Electoral Act.
According to him, “Practically, there is ECOWAS protocol discouraging amendment of Electoral Act before the election in less than six months to an election and we still have more than six months.’’
Meanwhile the National Chairman of United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie has said that his party is in support of plans to reorder the next general elections.
Okorie who spoke in interview after the event organised by the Electoral Institute said:”I want to commend the national Assembly for reordering the order of the elections. Otherwise, this is the argument made in the past. It appears Solomon has come to judgment where presidential election should come last.
“So that those people contesting for election will do so on their own merit and on their own steam and not ride on the back of a winning Presidential candidate which eventually will give you a lopsided National Assembly which would give birth to a National Assembly that will not checkmate the executive arm of government,”he said