By G9ija

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has disclosed that it will soon open engagement with the National Assembly on the rising cost of conducting bye-elections, which it said are becoming quite frequent.

The Commission disclosed that available records show that it is only in 10% of all bye-elections since 2015 that the party that won original lost the bye-election.

It also noted that apart from the enormous cost implications, bye-election distracts the Commission, adding that “this often diverts our attention away from reform, innovation, peer learning and planning for the consolidation of our electoral process”.

INEC National Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, in his remarks during a virtual meeting with leaders of political parties, insisted that “there is need for a national conversation around the frequency of bye-elections in Nigeria”.

According to him, “the Commission is going to open a discussion with stakeholders and the National Assembly for necessary reforms towards more cost-effective and democratic options”.

He continued that “in the month of May 2020 alone, five members of State Houses of Assembly passed on. Since December 2019, a period of six months, twelve members of the National and State Houses of Assembly have similarly passed on. This is in addition to the resignation of two Senators from Bayelsa who have since been sworn-in as Governor and Deputy Governor of the State.

“The cost of conducting these bye-elections to the Commission, the security agencies, political parties and candidates, election observers, the media, litigations (both pre-election and post-election) and disruption of activities as a result of the restriction of movement on Election Day is enormous”.

He stressed further that there is no election season in Nigeria any longer, adding that “the Commission is busy conducting elections all-year round between one General Election and another.

“The Commission will engage with the legislature and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections, especially in consideration of the Supreme Court position that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as the Commission’s records, which show that only in 10% of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.”