Political parties deserve compensation for election shift, says ex-INEC commissioner, Olurode

A former National Electoral Commissioner of INEC in 2015, Prof. Lai Olurode, has called for compensation of political parties for the losses brought upon them due to Saturday’s elections postponement

Olurode told the News Agency of Nigeria through phone call on Saturday in Lagos that the postponement would put the party in power at an advantage when it comes to disbursement.

NAN reports that the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to hold on February 16 and March 2, was postponed on Saturday morning by INEC to February 23.

Also, the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will now hold on March 9.

“I think this time around, unlike what happened in 2015, the elections management body should be thinking of compensating political parties that are contestants so that they will be in the same position to compete very well with parties that have the support of state and Federal governments.

“There is absolute need to reimburse the parties for the losses they have incurred as a result of this postponement.

“I tell you, it is much easier for people who are in power to use government resources to defray a course in the office, but what about parties who are not in power, how will they get to be compensated?

“Of course, they would be expected to again deploy their people to the fields as poll observers and agents in the electoral process. All of these they have to repeat in the next electoral process.

“The question is who is going to pay them”? Olurode queried.

He also described the postponement as “a national waste and a colossal embarrassment” to the country, urging the commission to do all that was within its power to minimise corruption in the electoral process.

The former electoral officer said: “The postponement is really an embarrassment to the nation because INEC as an umpire has told the entire world up till yesterday that it is ready to go ahead with the elections.

“Nigerians were ready, people travelled to where they would cast their votes, international observers are on ground, and sensitive electoral materials have been deployed, this unfortunate.

“If we knew that this was going to happen, why didn’t you tell the country about a week or two ago; this is really a waste of national resources.”

He advised the commission to ensure that the postponement of the elections by one week would by far be better, credible, transparent, free and fair than the previous elections it had conducted.

According to him, that is the only grounds that people can tolerate the postponement.

Also, the 2015 Presidential Candidate of KOWA Party, Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, suggested that all the elections should now hold the same day.

“Personally, the best thing is for us to do all the elections on the same day; it can be extended to two days, if needed. We can’t keep wasting money as if it didn’t matter.

“Also, we need full disclosure as to what the challenges were; was it transportation or what? What lessons have we learnt from the previous postponements?

“This postponement is not only a great disappointment; it is a big shame for our nation.

“We must probe it. Why was INEC telling us lies that they were ready,” Sonaiya said.

In his comments, Mr Shola Omolola, the Publicity Secretary, Inter-Party Advisory Council, Lagos chapter, expressed hope that the sensitive materials that had left the confine of the commission would be protected.