12th June, 2013
The recent warning by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, against political campaigns by politicians and political parties ahead of the 2015 general elections should be taken seriously by all.
The commission in a statement issued last Sunday by its spokesman, Lanre Idowu, condemned the unbridled manner politicians and political parties in the country had commenced political campaigns and warned that it is capable of heating up the polity and distracting current office holders from delivering dividends of democracy to the people.
He expressed the disapproval of the commission over the development, adding that the commission would not hesitate to apply the relevant laws to check the unwholesome trend. The electoral body also noted the indiscriminate manner political parties and politicians were displaying their campaign posters and airing electioneering broadcasts in defiance of the statutory provisions guiding electioneering campaigns.
While we want to commend INEC for this timely warning, we also want to alert the electoral umpire that posters of politicians seeking various political offices in 2015 have flooded the rural areas and some urban areas in the country.
Like INEC, we maintain that electioneering campaigns for the 2015 general elections are still too early and can disrupt the fragile peace of the country. It also has the tendency of creating animosity between various groups in the country at the expense of the country’s develpment.
Politicians and political parties should note that campaigning outside the provisions of the law is a violation of the law. Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), expressly states that: “For the purpose of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.”
Our position is that political parties and politicians should strive to play strictly by the rules, as part of our collective effort to ensure the success of the 2015 elections. The current trend is unhealthy and portends danger for the political process. It is also capable of truncating a free and fair general elections in 2015.
Our advice to politicians and political parties with eyes on the 2015 general elections is to wait for the bell to ring for electioneering campaign to begin. Political office holders should concentrate on delivering the dividends of democracy to the electorate who elected them. What the masses want now is the provision of potable water, stable power supply, good roads, affordable accomodation, efficient healthcare and employment.
We also want to implore INEC to apply the necessary sanction as contained in the Electoral Act to deal with the violation of the Act. Any politician or political party found violating the law should be sanctioned. INEC should ban the pasting of political posters and withdraw the certificate of erring political parties.