The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the stakeholders’ forum by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre, Abuja, assured Nigerians that their voted will count in the 2023 general elections. The INEC chairman listing four assurances, disclosed that there are four broad areas that Nigerians would like to receive assurances of the progress the Commission is making and challenges (if any) being encountered. According to Yakubu, they are security, campaign finance, technology, the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and assurances that their votes will count on Election Day.
He noted that the Commission has said repeatedly that security is an area of concern. Yakubu said that the Commission has the responsibility to conduct elections, but securing the environment for the deployment of personnel and materials as well as the peaceful conduct of elections is a shared responsibility involving the security agencies, the political actors and their supporters, the media and all other critical stakeholders.
“The perennial insecurity in the country is a source for concern. This existing challenge is compounded by the unfortunate incidents of attacks on campaigns, rallies and processions across all political parties,” the INEC stated.
He stated that although the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Parties are clear, the Commission has found it necessary to remind political parties, candidates and their supporters on the provisions of the law and their responsibilities. He said that the Commission will on Thursday release a summary highlighting the legal provisions governing the conduct of political rallies, processions and campaigns. “This will be uploaded to our website and social media platforms,” Yakubu said.
Prof. Yakubu commended the Civil Society Situation Room for the invitation as a Special Guest and for the opportunity to speak on Preparations for the 2023 General Election. He noted that the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (CSSR) has remained in the forefront of the advocacy for credible elections in Nigeria, expressing appreciation for the umbrella body of civil society organisations in Nigeria for all the group has been doing. According to Yakubu, “The repeal and re-enactment of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) into the Electoral Act 2022 is so far the most progressive legislation in the history of elections in Nigeria. While this is a good development, I am confident that civil society will track issues arising from the implementation of the law and make suggestions for future review as the need arises.”
The INEC chairman noted that the election is 93 days away and preparations started immediately after the 2019 General Election. He said that over a period of 45 days (28th May – 12th July 2019), the Commission organised a series of consultative meetings with stakeholders to review the 2019 General Election and published a report entitled Review of the 2019 General Election: Report of the Commission’s Retreat and Stakeholder Engagements in which over 170 recommendations were made. He added that over the last three years, the Commission has implemented most of the recommendations requiring administration action. Those requiring amendments to the law have been substantially addressed in the Electoral Act 2022 while some of those requiring constitutional amendment are currently under consideration, Yakubu said.
Yakubu also stated that Nigerians would like to know how far is INEC prepared for the election. He pointed that on the 14 activities listed in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission on 26th February 2022, the commission has implemented nine of them on schedule. He added that INEC has made tremendous progress in the production and delivery of critical sensitive and non-sensitive election materials to state offices. Recruitment and training of ad hoc staff for the election are ongoing, he said.
Yakubu said that INEC reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on electoral logistics, particularly the arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to various locations during elections, saying that the Commission met with the service providers and with the road transport unions. He said that fromthe experience in previous elections, the Commission has expanded the scope of collaboration to include the marine union for the riverine areas. “Very soon, the revised MoU will be signed with the service providers to cover both land and maritime transportation,”” INEC chairman said.