Ex-CDS boss, Omoruyi, canvasses shift in handover date

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Alemma Ozioruwa Aliu

AS individuals and groups express doubt over the possibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducting credible elections, former Director-General, Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS), Professor Omo Omoruyi, has called for shift in the handover date to enable INEC conduct credible polls.?
Speaking yesterday in Benin, Edo State, Omoruyi said INEC was still at the pre-election stage of the tripod that makes credible election, which he identified as pre-election, election and post-election. He said for the fact that INEC is still battling with pre-election matters, there is need to give it time to do its work properly.
The former CDS boss’ advice came days after a group, Professionals for Change (PC), called for the nation’s return to the October 1 handover date, saying the move will not only resolve the controversy over the May 29 handover date but give INEC more time to properly plan for the conduct of credible polls.
Omoruyi said it would be more disastrous to rush the election because of the May 29th hand over date. “ If we must get it right, that date must not be sacrosanct.”
According to “the political scientist, the INEC boss, Prof. Attahiru Jega is not a miracle maker. I wish he is one. May be that may not be realistic. We must not be a victim to that date if we want to get credible elections. The May 29th may not be realistic because you have to go through the litigation process and there is this thing lawyers call fair hearing. If you recall, I was the first person that used the term credible election in 1993. I said the presidential election was free, fair and credible.
“Then, I gave another lecture in Vienna in 2001 and I said elections could be free and fair but may not be credible. A credible election is an election that the common man in the street will see clearly. Pre-election day activities are many and if you get pre-election day activities wrong, you will not have a credible election. This election has nothing to do with Jega, we are supposed to come up with a law that will say this is the election date.
“Yesterday, the President is just writing the National Assembly members telling them to inculcate the date of the election in the law, just a few months to the election. It is laughable and we have not even seen the law. And we do not even know if it is a law or constitutional amendment, because if it is constitutional amendment, you know the processes. It is only in this country that you just rush a constitutional amendment over night; it is never done anywhere. In a normal democracy, it takes some time. So, I will say that May 29 is not sacrosanct.” ?
According to Omoruyi, insisting on May 29 handover date could deny those that will challenge the election in courts fair hearing. “If the election is rushed because of May 29, you are violating another section of the constitution which talks about fair hearing. So, these are the problems and we must come to terms with realities.”


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