Jonathan urges National Assembly to end off-cycle polls

By Nudoiba Ojen

Former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, on Saturday urged the National Assembly to amend the 1999 Constitution to put an end to the off-season elections.

Jonathan, who said off season elections were odd at at variance with global best practices, said, “I’ll use this unique opportunity to plead with the National Assembly that we need to block these off-season elections and migrate polls in the concerned states to the general election.

The former president expressed worries on off-season elections on Saturday during a chat with journalists after he cast his ballot at Polling Unit 39, Ward 13, Otuoke, in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state in the election in Bayelsa State to elect a new governor.

Off-cycle elections, i.e electoral exercises taking place outside the timeframe of the general election, were held in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states on Saturday to elect governor’s for the three states.

Jonathan said, “A country can elect their people at different times like America. They may not elect at the same time, but every time they go on to do elections, they elect everybody that is meant to be elected.

“Look at the American system, everybody knows when the America elections will be conducted, that’s the standard practice of other countries.

“If we continue with this trend of off-season elections based on the interpretation of our laws, it will come to a time that the Presidential election will be off season probably that’s the time that a lot of you media people should be worried.

“When I say Nigerian Presidential election may be off season some day, some people will say how? Why? It almost happened in 2007 when I contested as a running mate to President Yar’Adua.

“You know that election, the seven justices that presided over the case, three of them, in their own judgment, said that the election be annulled, four of them sustained it and that was why we stayed, if one had crossed over, by now the presidential election will be off-season and it is not the best for a country.

“These seven states with off-season elections can be migrated back to fall in line with the other states. The National Assembly can do that, that is my message for the National Assembly and for Nigerians today,” the former president stated.

Jonathan, however, congratulated the three states – Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo – that had elections on Saturday.

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