By Alh Hamza Koshe Akuyam, Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bauchi State
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Bauchi State chapter, has noted that a purported plan as announced by the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bauchi State Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi to conduct a re-run election has generated a lot of concern within and outside the state. The PDP, after a stakeholders meeting has therefore found it necessary to appraise the general public and to highlight our position un equivocally.
It could be recalled that a committee appointed by INEC Headquarters had thoroughly reviewed the 9th March Governorship elections in Bauchi State and upheld the sanctity of the votes cast by the people.
Further to that, the INEC Headquarters which has demonstrated time and again that it is an unbiased umpire, directed that supplementary elections were no longer necessary and the collation and declaration of the governorship election results in Tafawa Balewa Local government elections should be concluded on 19th March 2019. This decision was generally hailed by all the political parties involved except the APC.
Thus, all was set for the collation to resume under tight security at the Bauchi State INEC office at the appointed time in the morning of 19th March, 2019.
To our greatest surprise the REC for no any discernible reason kept the newly appointed Tafawa Balewa LGA Returning Officer (RO) and other accredited participants waiting for several hours till after 2 P.M. in the afternoon when he abruptly surfaced with a Court Injunction which he claimed had halted the collation exercise.
As this matter is subjudice, we do not intend to join issues with INEC Head Quarters Abuja, given that their decision not to hold supplementary elections in Bauchi State was methodically articulated in a widely circulated press release and is still binding. Nonetheless, it is very tragic that the REC has thrown another puzzle into the already charged electoral atmosphere in the State by announcing that he would conduct a supplementary election on 23rd March 2019 in certain Local Government Areas across the State.
The PDP wishes to state, for the records, that it is willing to face the electorate at any time provided the elections are organized in a transparent, free and fair manner.
It will interest the members of the public to know that barely 48 hours to the proposed supplementary elections, the Party has absolutely no idea of the identity, locations or total number of poling units at which the elections will be held on Saturday. This is in spite of the fact that the PDP had written two letters to the REC, on 13th and 20th March 2019 respectively, in which we requested for the above information as well as the total number of Permanents Voter Cards (PVCs) which had been issued and collected in each of the affected units. The failure of the INEC REC Bauchi State to either acknowledge or respond to our request is clearly designed to sabotage the PDP at the proposed re-run elections. This is unacceptable.
We also find it strange that the REC Bauchi State proposes to conduct the supplementary elections even while the governorship elections in Bauchi State have been collated from only 19 of the 20 Local Government Areas of the State.
It is a matter of common sense that supplementary elections are only held after the conclusion of general elections and so, we are amazed by the haste with which this re-run elections is being approached, which pre-supposes that perhaps someone already knows the unannounced results of the outstanding Tafawa Balewa Local Government elections. This sounds like arithmetical rigging.
Our position therefore is that no supplementary elections should take place in Bauchi State until the full governorship election results collation which ends with Tafawa Balewa local government are announced.
Doing otherwise will be synonymous with writing a reseat examination while the main examination has not been marked.
It boggles the mind that the same REC superintended over the final collation and announcement of the winner of the Bula/Lere State Constituency of the same Tafawa balewa Local Government and turned a blind eye to the results of the governorship which were contested in the same poling units, by the same voters and collated in the same wards and LGA Collations Centers.
The position of the law stipulates that a re-run or supplementary election can only be ripe upon conclusion of collation of all the results in all the Local Government in the state. This is as provided for in the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections specifically paragraph 33 (a), (e) and 34 (e).
By the combined effect of the aforementioned paragraph of the Guidelines, the Commission shall wait to determine the margin of lead between the two leading candidates for the governorship elections after collation of the overall results of the entire elections before deciding to embark on supplementary elections. Therefore in this present situation in Bauchi State whereby the results of a whole local government area has not been collated i.e Tafawa Balewa, the commission cannot determine the lead between the two candidates, hence there is no basis for the supplementary elections in other poling units cancelled pursuant to section 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act. until full collations of the governorship election has been concluded.
This is the basis for our demand for the immediate suspension of the supplementary elections which as scheduled at 23rd March 2019 in Poling Units which are still shrouded in a mystery to us, until after the collation of results from Tafawa Balewa LGA has been concluded and the figures so obtained have been merged with those obtained from the rest of the 19 LGAs to arrive at a true and accurate Bauchi State Governorship election collated results.