Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has said the commission is sticking with the timetable it has fashioned out for the 2019 general elections despite recent amendments to the Electoral Act by the National Assembly.
Timetable for the election earlier released by INEC indicated that the presidential and elections into the National Assembly will take place before the governorship and state houses of assembly polls.
But in the recent amendment of the Electoral Act, the National Assembly stipulated that election into the national assembly should precede the governorship and state houses of assembly and the presidential poll respectively.
The amendment to the Electoral Act which stipulates order of elections have been generating controversies. While many said it is targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari, others have argued that it was a violation of the powers granted INEC in the constitution to draw out timetable for polls to be held in the country. Subsequently, some Nigerians have asked INEC to challenge the amendment at in court.
The National Assembly has forwarded the bill to the President for assent.
But while speaking at a consultative meeting in Abuja on Monday, Mahmood asserted that INEC would continue to make preparation for the election in line with its own schedule.
Mahmood further expressed that the commission has prepared its 2019 election budget and would be sent to the assembly for approval.
“Right now, the draft of the budget is on my table based on the current schedule of activities. Thereafter, we will submit it to the approving authorities”, the INEC boss said.
Commenting on whether the commission would challenge the action of the assembly members in court, Mahmood said that the commission is yet to receive any official confirmation on the change of date of an election.
He said, “There are many ‘ifs’ but here, we deal with certainty. As far as the electoral commission is concerned, there is no legal lacuna at the moment. What we have done is on the basis of existing law and nothing has changed.
“If the bill is assented to, we will look at the provisions and inform Nigerians on the next step. But as far as the commission is concerned at the moment, we are operating under the existing law and we have issued a timetable for the activities accordingly.”
He added that if the commission is notified of any changes in election date, the commission would examine the changes and act in accordance with the changes effected.