The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday declared the keenly and tightly contested gubernatorial election in Osun state as “inconclusive” much to the bemusement of the PDP supporters who had thought leading candidate, Senator Adeleke (the Dancing Senator), was the outright winner.
INEC has had a lot of backlash for their decision, even though their decision is justified by the Electoral Act.
What is an inconclusive election?
An inconclusive election is to be declared where the total number of registered voters which are cancelled or in units where the elections are postponed, are sufficient to cause a change in the outcome of the election. By Section 69 of the Electoral Act, the powers of the Returning Officer to declare a winner in election is subject to Section 179. By Section 179 a person can only be declared winner if he has the highest number of votes.
Ordinarily the application of the doctrine of “inconclusiveness of elections” makes common sense as it prevents a person who is otherwise less favoured from becoming the winner of the election by either preventing elections in the places where he is most likely to lose votes and taking advantage of such prevention of election by being a winner as a result of such slender margin. If a candidate was outrightly the favorite and still wins irrespective of the number of cancelled votes then Section 179 would apply to declare him winner. But in this case we have about 3000 votes cancelled or not counted and the winner, if declared, would be winning by about 500 votes. This means if the 3000 votes are against the winner he would have lost. Thus the elections would not be a fair reflection of the people’s desire or the people’s choice.
While the theory is good, the Nigerian experience of rerun on inconclusive elections has been bloody, and sad and one in which both parties risk all because that simple re-run determines EVERYTHING!
INEC’s statement on Osun governorship election
Here’s the statement from INEC, declaring the gubernatorial election in the State of Osun as inconclusive: